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Internet Privacy & Security Informative - Friendly Reminder

Review by Flexanimous Fellow on 2010-12-14
I've posted an informative article along these lines before, but there's definitely a need to reiterate.

I'm currently typing this from a computer at my local car dealership (thankfully they provide terminals with internet access to keep clients from going insane due to the wait for vehicle service).

The access that I had to other peoples' information on this computer when first logging on was flabbergasting. Previous users of this terminal have forgotten to log themselves out of websites, or, better yet, do a nice thorough cleaning of the browser history and cookies after browsing the Internet.

Stock portfolios, email accounts, social networking accounts, and sadly enough, even bank accounts, were all at my fingertips and ready to be viewed by me, a complete stranger to these people. Unsettling? Extremely.

After wiping all traces of usernames, passwords, etc. from this computer (it took a few minutes to complete, indicative that it hasn't been done for quite some time), I tried to configure the browsers in this room to wipe all traces of previous history upon log-off, but I do not have administrator privileges to the terminals.

This is something I have noticed before in public libraries, and unfortunately now at the car dealership. This is a major loophole in Internet security among publicly used computer terminals, and is something that should not be taken lightly.

If you know somebody who is not particularly knowledgeable of erasing browser history, please give them the proper training they need to keep their information safe, secure, and out of the wrong hands!
Comments:15 Replies - Latest reply on 2010-12-23
Posted by Slimjim on 2010-12-14:
Great post
Posted by saj80 on 2010-12-14:
Very good information; thanks!
Posted by MRM on 2010-12-14:
Very unfortunate indeed.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-12-14:
Did you bring this to the attention of someone at the dealership who does have administrative privileges?
Posted by MRM on 2010-12-14:
On a public computer, people should not be shopping online or doing their banking online. There is a program that will reveal passwords on websites that you visited.
Posted by Flexanimous Fellow on 2010-12-14:
ript, I sure did. They seemed genuinely concerned, so I trust they will look into it. Even a printed set of instructions taped above the terminals would be better than nothing.

I come here quite often for vehicle work, so we'll see if anything changes on my subsequent visits.
Posted by MRM on 2010-12-14:
Yes, FLex, please keep us up to date if they have corrected the problem. Not being nosey, but when is your next visit to the dealership?
Posted by werelucky on 2010-12-14:
Great post.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-12-14:
Excellent post.
Posted by Flexanimous Fellow on 2010-12-14:
I commute 130 miles round trip each day to work, so my next visit shouldn't be too far off into the future...probably mid-January. I'll keep you posted.
Posted by trmn8r on 2010-12-14:
People shouldn't be using a public computer to do their banking. That's insane.

The home pages of the banking institutions I use do not have user names or passwords stored, even though I have that enabled. So I don't understand why it was such a problem on that computer.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-12-14:
Thanks, Flex, for keeping people on their toes. People do need reminders from time to time to safeguard their info.
Posted by Nohandle on 2010-12-14:
It's amazing the number of folks who use an office computer for all their needs. They relied on others for updates, security and that sort of thing. They honestly don't have a clue. I've told others to make certain critical updates I had learned of were done and was told theirs was automatic. I gave up and they wondered why they continually had problems. Excellent reminder Flex. Don't use a public computer for any reason unless you know what you are doing.
Posted by Alain on 2010-12-14:
Very good review!
Posted by GenuineNerd on 2010-12-23:
Even if you bring your own laptop to a public facility to use the Wi-Fi, you should refrain from doing online transactions that involve SSN, credit card, or bank account information, since others can "eavesdrop" on your business.

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