OICT Safety Tips When Using a Public or Shared Computer

Using a shared or public computer in libraries, internet cafes and airports can be convenient and is sometimes necessary but there is always the risk of exposing yourself to a number of security threats. It is critically important, therefore, that you take extra precautions to safeguard your sensitive information.

Follow these safety tips when using a public or shared computer to keep your private and work information safe.

  Avoid entering sensitive information onto a public computer

Do not use a public or shared computer to login to a work email account, bank account, or other online services that contain sensitive information. The public computer can be infected with a key logger malware that tracks every keystroke you enter through your keyboard, including usernames and passwords. Only use a private or trusted computer when accessing websites that contain sensitive information.

  Don’t stay logged into websites

Many websites and browsers today now have the “Remember me” or “Keep me signed in” option that allows websites and browsers to identify you so you don’t have to sign in again. Do not check this option and turn off your browser’s “save passwords” feature (Chrome, Edge) before logging in to your account.

Additionally, it is very important to sign out of all programs and close all windows when you have finished accessing your accounts so that no one can log in as you after you have used the computer.

  Always clear the browser history or use private browsing

When you are finished with your session, be sure to completely delete cached images/files, cookies, browsing history and other similar data. This will prevent people who use the computer after you from seeing the sites that you have visited and accessing any saved information.

An alternative to clearing cache, history, cookies is to use the private or incognito browsing mode (Chrome, Edge) that prevents the browser from remembering your activity.

  Don’t leave the computer unattended while you’re signed in

If you need to leave the computer, sign out of all your accounts and close all windows that contain sensitive information as someone might use the computer in your absence and easily access your accounts.

  Watch out for "shoulder surfers"

When using a public or shared computer, watch out for thieves who deliberately look over your shoulders or stand close to you to watch your keystrokes as you are entering your username or password. Make sure no one is sitting or standing within view of your keyboard when you enter your login credentials or other sensitive information.