Thursday, December 01, 2005

Are cyber cafes safe?

Cyber cafe were once a very rarefied place that existed in only select parts of the city and visited by those in the know of the latest technology. But with the ubiquitous usage of Internet in all aspects of our life from work to play, cyber cafes have mushroomed in every nook and corner and at all public places imaginable. While this have made life easier and more efficient, there are security issues too that can compromise your online identity. As Niraj Kaushik, country head of Trend Micro says, “The public terminals at the airport, libraries, cyber cafes are not safe at all if one has to make online transactions that involves typing in sensitive information like the bank account’s username, passwords and other confidential data. Unless you are quite sure that the cyber café’s administrator has put in place all the security firewalls and softwares that can identify and block spywares, do not ever give out your credit card number details or anything that might be stolen by others at your cost. Sometimes your email account can be hacked and used to harm your reputation.

Criminals may also hijack your screen name and use it for illegal purpose.” For Rajeev Barman, a cyber security expert, keyloggers that record every word you type is a great risk. “These run in the background unobtrusively and keep a log of your typing activity, including the passwords to your email and banking accounts. Even the highly trained security expert might be hard pressed to tell whether a particular PC has such kind of stealth programmes installed for they are hidden from the users,” says Rajeev.

So the best security tip is to desist from using any public Internet access terminal. If it becomes exceedingly important to use it for some urgent transaction, one should follow certain security tips.

Be cautious

Look around: Make sure nobody is trying to look at your screen or keyboard. Also, don’t walk away from the computer while you’re logged in.

Beware of keyloggers: Many public computers are locked down by the administrator to disallow installation of any additional softwares by the users. But there’s a chance a hacker could install a Trojan keylogger to capture keystrokes, and an industrious crook could use a hardware device—such as the KeyGhost Hardware Key-Logger—that connects between the keyboard and PC. Check the hardware carefully and if you find any suspicious piece of device, find another PC.

Don’t reveal sensitive information: We recommend that you avoid typing any sensitive data at public kiosks. Many sites set cookies for an online session so if you close the browser and reopen it, you don’t have to log on again. If you close the browser and walk away, the next user could pick up where you left off.

Erase your tracks: Be sure to delete your electronic trail of temporary files, cookies, and surfing history. If you’re using Internet Explorer, click on Tools / Internet Options. On the General tab, click on Delete Cookies, Delete Files, and Clear History.

Still in Internet Options, click the Content tab, then click the AutoComplete button. In the resulting dialog box, click the Clear Forms button and the Clear Passwords button.

If you downloaded any documents, delete them too. If you edited any documents, clear the “recently used documents” list.

Courtesy: DT


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