Two Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Shared Computers

Many times we find ourselves using shared workstations. These may be computers at a friend’s house, systems at a library, or checking our email at an Internet café.

When you’ve finished going to your respective sites, there are a couple steps you can take to ensure that your identity is reasonably safe. Be mindful that no computer, particularly those that are not under your control, is 100% safe at protecting your identity. But, you can take these easy steps to make things a bit safer.

  1. Log off secure websites
    After logging into your email, your bank website, even your Facebook account, make sure to logoff from the site. This ensures that the open, secure connection between the computer you’re using and the service you’re using is broken. Anyone going to that site after you will then be prompted to login again, instead of seeing your content.
  2. Cover your tracks
    Depending on the security in place on the system you’re using, you may not be able to clear your Internet cache, wipe out your cookies, or purge your history. But, if you have the ability, it’s a good step to take. In Internet Explorer, go to Tools then to Internet Options. If Tools is missing, tap the ALT key on your keyboard for those hidden menus to appear.

    With Internet Options open, under Browsing history, click the Delete button.

    From here, select the items you wish to clear and then click Delete. A word of caution if you’re using a friend’s computer versus a public computer: Some of these items will wipe out their saved passwords and cookies which make it easier for them to login to various sites. However, if you’re using a computer at a library or Internet café, generally it’s fine to clear out everything.

    Keep in mind that if a different web browser is used, there will be different steps to complete. But, most browsers allow for you to clean up after your surfing session.

The best way to ensure your safety is that if you’re using a shared computer, don’t access websites which may be sensitive, such as your online banking site. Save that until you’re on a trusted computer on a trusted network.

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