Keep Private Data Secure in Internet Cafés

September 26, 2008

Internet cafés are helpful for people who often work on the road. They also provide a change of scenery or working environment for your tired eyes.

However, in today’s Web 2.0 environment, it becomes difficult to guard your privacy as billions of data are shared among computers over the Internet.

Thus, it has become a must to have at least a working knowledge of Internet security, especially if your access point is a public place like an Internet café.

Below are some tips to make your Internet café experience productive and safe.

1. Only updated antivirus software actually does something. You might already be doing this, which is good. However, there are other settings and functions that aren’t turned on by default. The most common features deactivated by default include Spam Filters, Email Security Options, and Internet Threat Alerts. It is important to know exactly what your antivirus can do, and how you can customize its functions so that you can maximize the protection it offers.

2. Firewall: ON. Most reputable Internet cafés are expected to have their own firewalls up. However, this does not protect your laptop from the other computers using the same router. Windows and Macs provide easy steps for you to follow when setting up your firewall. After setting it up, you will always have the option to tweak your firewall settings to suit your needs.

3. Say No to “Remember me on this computer.” Even if you are using your own laptop and not a public computer, it is unsafe to have your system remember all your usernames and passwords, especially for email accounts and online banking accounts. Besides being susceptible to external attacks over the Internet, there is a possibility that your laptop may be stolen, along with the important information stored in it.

4. Lock it. When using your laptop over public Internet access, it is never a good idea to leave your laptop on when you need to stand, even if you’re just getting something from the next table. Change the settings of your screensaver so that it would prompt for a password before it clears away. Another option could be locking your computer every time you need to leave it for a few seconds. However, going to the restroom is another story. It is strongly recommended that you bring your laptop with you. For public desktop computers, make sure you log out completely before leaving the terminal.

5. Recommended
Internet cafés. Before your trip, it is a good idea to research on the Internet cafés within the area. Friends and colleagues could give you an idea which ones have good and reliable service and which ones to avoid. You can also list down each recommended café’s operating hours and whether or not they are open during the weekends. This way, you minimize interruptions in your work schedule.