Gainful employment, finally. The bad news is you will be traveling 300 days of the year. On top of that you will be the lowest head on the totem pole for the next three years and won’t be eligible to carry around a company laptop/ipad for just as long. But hey, you get an early 2000’s sedan and a pay check, (so don’t complain). You don’t have your own laptop yet but don’t want to turn into a social nomad. How do you access personal information from public places?
Just as likely scenario B: You have been at the library for five hours researching the promethean vision of Robert A. Hein. Despite your 4.0 honor roll status, you have a moment of weakness and check your fantasy football scores; the PLAYER OF THE YEAR is sitting in the free agent pool and NOW is the time to act. Toss in five dollars from your bank to cover a trade/drop/pickup and hazza, you have the league’s leading scorer—and a key logger has your school/tuition bank account number.
Using any private information on a public computer is playing a game with your identity. Your computer at home, hopefully protected with an encrypted router and security software, is the only place you should check sensitive material. There is NO guarantee a public location can be secure from external threats. That means the coffee shop that has free computer stations, library computers, and hotel computer banks are OFF LIMITS when checking sites with particularly sensitive identity information (bank accounts or various money delivery services). I would go so far as to say – there’s NO reason you should be checking anything that requires an email address that is linked to any of your normally checked accounts when casually surfing somewhere public. Paranoia is underrated when it comes to the safety of your identity. So what can you do? You’re on the road and want to stay connected…
What Are My Computer Data Privacy Options?
Time to upgrade.
If your office is going to skimp you on a work computer, the least they might have to offer is some kind of benefit/stipend for a mobile phone—a bonus you receive to cover a % of the phone bill/month (10-15% adds up). If you don’t have a smart phone, now might seem like the perfect chance to upgrade. Smart phones are becoming more powerful by the month and cheaper by the day. If all you are looking to do is check email and browse the internet at a mid level of security (maybe check account balances through mobile apps and such) the standard smart phones will be able to meet your needs. One thing to consider is making the point to your supervisor that your position would benefit from a mobile workbook. Showing initiative and demonstrating preparation are not just things you put on a resume. But hey, all you can do is ask, right?
If you do risk it, as many of you will do, remember to delete everything. If you open a zip, find it and delete everything that your clicks left. Delete internet caches, browser history, temporary folders, and empty the recycling bin. Make a list of all the passwords and usernames on someplace you will often check (like your checkbook transaction page) and update them when you have an opportunity on your secure, home machine.
Create an account completely for use on local computers.
You won’t get to check your fantasy scores, but you can check player stats. It sounds obnoxious, but you can search a friend’s social media pages if you had to procure information like an address or a number. Use this account to receive forwards of filtered information via email, ahead of time, if you know they might be necessary. It’s not a bad idea to have an email that you know will be used in heavily spammed fields. If you know you are going to get junk mail by the metric ton, use your public records/information account take the burden off your business/professional email address. This still allows you to get spammed by travel sites with potential deal breakers, and have a place to sort out the trash without accidently erasing baby niece Joanna’s pictures.
Calling all students.
Your campus network security is not responsible for your bad decisions on their public computers. Bill Brown, a Network Technician at the University Center in Rochester (UCR) in Southeastern Minnesota, explains how “there is no 100% guarantee a student is protected from an outside invader” while using their lab computers. As their administrative level computers house affective security measures to comply with the states privacy laws (student info and such), Mr. Brown explained that their second set of computers, lab computers and such, have an advanced enough security to recognize and quarantine most threats from communicating outside and with the network. He explained that the only way to be sure you don’t have something threatening viewing your information is to boot a live-cd disk with an entire OS to use. “That, would be incorruptible.” I think it’s overkill, but one can never go too far and a blank disk is all of ten cents.
The point is, leave cyber browsing to hockey scores and reference material. School libraries weren’t meant for social networking in the interwebs or fantasy football pickups; even if network security does have security in place to try and stop an invader from stealing your perfect 6-0 team and soon to be empty bank account. Home, on your computer that utilizes a proper virus security system, is the only place you should be viewing private information. How serious you want to take it is up to you, but trust me, you will be VERY serious about identity theft when it happens to you. Oh, and now might be a good time to ask your boss what kind of incentives the company has for phone stipends to upgrade your old flip phone (remember when those were cool?) or to plead your case for a company iPad (which are very cool, now).
Lastly, if this is old news and you’ve had your identity stolen… mission critical is damage control. Head to bestbuy.com and check out their options for anti-virus clean up at Best Buy Anti-Virus Links. It wouldn’t hurt to check out http://avg.com for a download/option for their suite package to get started. Chances are, you’re going to have to re-image (delete and re-install) your computer. You may have shops in town that specialize in doing just that, but calling your computers manufacturer is always a good start (you may have a warranty available).
Categories: Computer and Network Privacy Tips