Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Public Computer Safety Tips

Public Computer Safety Tips With spying software, a criminal can grab your passwords and usernames. Ultimately, you could lose your money or have your identity stolen. That should tell you enough to be wary of public PC terminals.

Here are five things to consider when you sit down in front of a strange computer:

1.Check for spy programs.

Download X-Cleaner spyware remover from Put it on a floppy disk. If the public computer you use has a floppy drive, insert the disk and run X-Cleaner from the floppy to check the hard drive. You do not have to install X-Cleaner.

2.Erase your tracks.

When you use an Internet browser, it keeps records of where you went. When you finish surfing with Microsoft Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options. On the General tab, click Delete Files and Delete Cookies. Then click Clear History.

If you're using Netscape Navigator, it's a little more complicated. Follow these steps.

•Check the settings before going online. Click Edit and Preferences. Click the arrow next to Navigator and select History. On the right, find Browsing History. Change "Remember visited pages" to 0.

•Click on the arrow next to Privacy and Security. Select Disable Cookies and Disable Cookies in Mail and Newsgroups.

•When you finish surfing, click Edit and Preferences. Click the arrow next to Navigator. Click Clear History and Clear Location Bar. Go to Privacy and Security on the left side and click the arrow. Select Cookies. Click Manage Stored Cookies. On the Stored Cookies tab, click Remove All Cookies.

•Now go to Advanced, in the left-hand panel. Click the Arrow and click Cache. Click Clear Memory Cache and Clear Disk Cache.

3.Protect your passwords.

Browsers also track passwords. Before going on the Web, if you're using Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options. On the Content tab, click AutoComplete. Uncheck the four boxes.

When you finish surfing, again click Tools > Internet Options. Go to the Content tab and click AutoComplete. Click Clear Forms and Clear Passwords.

If you're using Netscape, click Edit and Preferences. Click the arrow next to Privacy and Security. Click Passwords. Clear the box next to Remember Passwords. When you finish browsing, click Passwords again, under Privacy and Security. Click Manage Stored Passwords. Select the Passwords Saved tab and click Remove All.

Netscape has a feature similar to AutoComplete. It saves data entered into forms. To disable that, under Privacy and Security, click Forms. Uncheck "Save form data from Web pages when completing forms." When you finish browsing, return to the Forms page. Click Manage Stored Form Data. Click Remove All Saved Data.

Cleaning out the browser will ensure that no one can track your surfing or grab your passwords with saved data. But a keystroke-logging program will still catch your passwords.

Some — but not all — key-logging programs can be defeated if you copy and paste in the letters or numbers of your password. For instance, say the page you have open in the browser has lots of type on it. And say your password is jim (let's hope it's not that simple!). Find a "j," an "i" and an "m" on the page. Copy and paste them into the password box.

Probably the best password protection is a temporary password. Use it while you're on the road, then discard it.

4.Don't rely on encryption.

There are a number of encryption packages on the market. They can be used to encrypt e-mail. However, they encrypt the mail when the Send button is clicked. That's too late if a key-logging program is on the computer. It will make a record of the password and message as it is being written.

5.Use some common sense.

Public computers may be secure. But you really have no way of being sure. You can secure your home or business computer, but you can't be certain of what has been done with a public machine.

Approach these machines with care. Don't do any banking or stock trading on them if you can avoid it. Avoid credit-card transactions. Use a temporary password if you must check your e-mail. And ask your system administrator how to "expire page views."

If you're just surfing, that should not be a problem. But avoid sensitive business if you can. There might be a Juju Jiang watching.

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