Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to Prevent Identity Theft When Surfing in an Internet Cafe

Identity theft is one of the major e-crimes. There many stories wherein hackers took over e-mail accounts and other accounts in Facebook, Friendster, and Twitter. When these intruders take over, they usually bar the real owner of the account from accessing their accounts. Many people had been tricked in giving money to the people that purports as the real owner of accounts that they took over.

The risk of identity theft is high in internet café because many people go inside such establishments. Some computer users are negligent and forget to sign out from their accounts. Thankfully, the latest browsers of Firefox and Internet Explorers have tools to ensure that you are protected.

Be Vigilant

This is the foremost and the best tip to prevent identity theft. You should be aware of the people around you when you are online. Make sure that no one is looking when you are typing your username and password to access your accounts. Also be aware of the other computer users that are always looking at you when you are online. It is likely that this people is eyeing you and planning to do something about your account.

Always Log-out

The “Log out” or “Sign out” buttons were placed on your account for a reason, that is to terminate your access to your account after you are done visiting it. Never leave the internet café with your accounts not logged out. Many people forget to do this simple thing and run the risk of their accounts being stolen from them. It is easy to steal an account that was left logged on by its owner.

There are websites that do not automatically log-out if the browser was closed. Friendster is an example of websites that are like this. Logging out of your account is one of the simplest ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

Create Strong and Multiple Passwords

A strong password is a password that has a combination of letters and numbers. However, internet users have a hard time remembering such combinations so they resort to passwords that are composed of phrases. So, if you intend to create a password composed of phrase, then make sure that that password is not easily guessed.

Multiple passwords is also important so to ensure that if one of your accounts was hacked, then other accounts will not be affected. Thus, you should have a different password for your personal accounts like Facebook, Friendster, or Twitter, then a different password for e-mail, and so on.

Don’t Auto-save

Popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox have the capability to save your username and passwords automatically. This capability depends on the settings placed by the internet café administrator. There are internet cafes that have browsers that ask permission before saving your username and passwords, but others auto-save without asking for permission. If you are surfing in an internet café, never let the browser to auto-save either your username or password. An auto-saved username will have a higher risk of its password being guessed by hackers.

Clear All Private Data

Thankfully, Internet Explorer and Firefox (and even Google Chrome) already have a tool that allows the user to clear all the private data collected while the browser is on. Customers of internet café are advised to use this tool before going out of the café. This tool allows you to clear you browsing history, auto-saved username and passwords, and cookies.

For Firefox, you should click Tools >> Clear Private Data. A window, like the one shown below, will pop up. You should place a check on all fields and then click Clear Private Data Now button.

For Internet Explorer, you should click Tools >> Delete Browsing History. A window, like the one shown below, will pop out. You should click on the Delete All button so as to delete all of your browsing history and private data.

If the browser is of old version and does not have these tools, then I suggest that you press Ctrl+h to access the Browser History and delete all its contents.

One of my friends claimed that another person accessed his Friendster account even if already logged out from Friendster. He claimed that the hacker gained access through the Browsing History stored in Internet Explorer. I am not sure if what he claimed was the truth, but deleting your private data after surfing does not do any harm to you. Availing of the said tool is highly suggested to prevent identity theft.

Protecting your internet accounts should always be on the top of your mind when surfing in an internet café. Stories of hacking are true and many have became victim, including their family and friends who were tricked to giving some money. Follow all of my simple tips and everything will be just fine. Happy surfing!


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