It's impossible these days to say 'Internet' and 'security' in the same breath, especially with the umpteen number of adware, spyware and key-logging software doing the rounds online. Cyber villains can easily obtain confidential information such as usernames, passwords, bank account numbers and credit card details with the help of malicious software.

The scenario at a public PC is just as bad, especially in cyber cafes. You may not have the luxury of a super-fast connection at home and find the prospect of surfing at a cyber cafes with DSL speeds seem enticing. Similar to the age old adage of never trust strangers, the unfamiliar PC's may not be as harmless as they seem. Here are some basic rules when surfing in cyber cafes:

Rule 1
Your browser keeps a record of all sites you visit, so when you're done using a public computer, make sure you delete all the temporary files and clear the Internet history. This can be done by clicking on the 'Tools' menu on your browser window and selecting the 'Internet Options' menu. Next, click on 'Delete Cookies', 'Delete Files' and 'Clear History'.

Rule 2
Don't create any folders/files on the hard drive except for temporary use, to deleted when the computer is rebooted. Just in case you absolutely have to create and save files, make sure you purge them completely from the system using the [shift] + [delete] command.


Rule 3

Browsers also track your IE passwords, so before going online, click 'Tools | Internet Options'. On the 'Content' tab, click 'Auto Complete' and uncheck all four boxes. Don't forget to sign out of sites, for instance, your Hotmail or onlinebank accounts. Using a temporary password is also a good idea.

Rule 4
Many programs (especially instant messengers) give you an option of using the automatic login feature. This essentially saves your username and password so you don't have to keep logging in. Make sure you disable this option that the next user will not be able to log in under your name. Manually clear your mail ID from the messenger—you can do this through the 'Tools | Options' menu, where you click the 'Personal' tab and delete the text form the 'My Display Name' text box.

Rule 5
In case you have to leave the public computer for any amount of time, log out of all programs and close all windows that may include sensitive information.

Rule 6
Avoid typing your credit card number or any other financial or otherwise sensitive information into a public computer. With simple spying software, anyone can grab your passwords and usernames. Unattended stations are the easiest location for identity theft.