The Most Important Computer Security Tips When You Use Public Computer

The Internet security industry is rapidly growing, and the number of applications and software available today to protect your computer can be overwhelming. You can find it hard to choose the perfect antivirus software for your needs, but you will still not be able to get rid of the biggest security threat there is – yourself. It is true that nowadays security software detects high percentage of malware files and alarms you when you go in the insecure parts of the Internet, but users still make strange decisions that can result with huge loss of data. The antivirus software installed on the computer you’re using will do many things for you, but you also need to know about some best practices and tips for public PC security.

Reasons for adopting security measures

When you’re a part of the Internet you’re not only thinking about your safety, but the safety of other users just like yourself. By allowing hackers to breach your security wall, you’re supporting their cause of data phishing unknowingly, making it harder for antivirus companies to develop their products and indirectly putting other users in danger. Your data is only a small part of the global network of information and when hackers see that they have succeeded in one case, they will use the same things to attack another computer. The thing gets even more complicated when you use a public computer because you need to think about some details before leaving that place. That’s why you should take into consideration these computer security tips.

Top 10 Public Computer Security Tips

  1. Don’t save Login Information – It’s always easier to make your browser remember your username and password for the next time you need to login, but this also puts some of the most crucial information that you possess open to data phishing attacks. Apply this rule when you visit webpages in your browser, and even for login to your computer’s operating system. Good way to do this is to make use of your browser’s safest option, such as when using Google Chrome you should open up an Incognito Window. When you’re using this Chrome feature, none of your passwords or browsing history will be saved to your computer and it will last only for that particular session.

    And if you want to not worry about memorizing the passwords, you can go with making use of secure online password managers. That way, you can not only save all of your passwords in one place, at the same time, you could make your passwords as much difficult as you want (since you’re going to have the option to save them in your password manager, tension not as you don’t need to memorize them)

  2. Check the system is updated – Recently Microsoft sent a public release to all XP users informing them that this operating system is no longer supported by the company. Updates are way that you OS provider is taking care of you and your safety. This is a way to update all the necessary features of your OS in order to avoid security breaches. For example, all XP users can’t update their system no more and are without support from Windows, that’s why even white-hat hackers can breach their security using legal methods of computing. The same thing can happen if the OS of the computer you’re using is not updated.
  3. Encrypt sensitive files and folders – The best way to do this is to use some of the many USB drives that have encryption options built in them. Most of individual users will find 256-bit encryption suitable for their needs. Encrypting files means that even if the hacker somehow breaches the security of the computer you’re using and gets some files from the computer, he will not be able to read them. SSL is a type of encryption used for sites where personal data is transferred. The SSL encrypts the data so third parties can’t use it.
  4. Manage your backups – Data backup to an external source is a must. The device you’re using can be attacked at any moment and you can end up losing invaluable information. You can use an external hard drive or a cloud based service. Cloud based services like Google Drive are free up till 10GB of memory usage. There are also some other cloud backup services that you could use and the pricing is nothing compared to the things you get.
  5. Verify your backups – Lots of people backup their files and forget to check them from time to time. You have maybe developed a well structured regime of file backup, but you still need to check if the files you save are headed to the desired location on your backup profile.
  6. Erase your tracks – While searching through the net, your Internet browser will remember all of the locations that you have visited and install cookies on your device from sites that have them. Cookies keep an eye on your online activity all the time. That’s why it’s smart to erase all browsing history from time to time and delete all cookies stored on the device you’re using.
  7. Don’t use sensitive information – We already mentioned file encryption and secure browsing best methods, but it is probably better to prevent than to heal. That’s why you should always consider is some information really worth sharing while you are using a public computer.

    It’s maybe better to get home and conduct that banking transaction from your personal computer. This was truly a simple example, but there are tons of sites out there that use various types of data phishing techniques from simple applications to complex software offers. That’s why you should always avoid using sensitive information on a public location. When connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot or some other type of network you should always apply some, if not all, tips for PC public security that you may recognize here.

  8. Log out all programs and windows – This is crucial when using a shared computer. Make sure that you have logged out from all programs that you have used during the session and successfully closed all browser windows. Make sure that you have logged out from all online banking, email and other accounts that you use that hide important information.
  9. Turn off the computer before leaving – Make sure that the browsing session you just have is closed and that the computer went in Shut Down mode before leaving the place.
  10. Enable S.M.A.R.T – The moment you sit on the computer make sure that S.M.A.R.T is enabled on that device. Self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology informs you if the hard drive is about to fail. This gives you enough time to backup all of your data. Just open the computer BIOS and press Del or F2/F10 in order to activate this option.

We believe that these tips improved your awareness about all the dangers connected with the usage of public PCs. It would be interesting, helpful for further articles and informative towards our user community if you would like to share some of your bad or good experiences regarding security on public places.

Top-right image by: Wikipedia (

Ali Qamar Ali is an Internet security research enthusiast who enjoys "deep" research to dig out modern discoveries in the security industry. To be frank and honest, Ali started working online as a freelancer and still shares the knowledge for a living. He is passionate about sharing the knowledge with people, and always try to give only the best.
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