Security Corner

Feb 21 2010   11:48PM GMT

Security on Public PCs – NOT!

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Sorry. There’s nothing you can do to make a public computer safe. I’ve had family members ask me if it’s OK, while their computer at home is down (due to spyware, adware and viruses, mind you) if they can go to the library and pay their credit card bills, check their bank accounts, etc.?

OMG! Are you crazy? I don’t really say that to them, but you get the idea. The answer is NO! NO! NO!

There is no such thing as a secure publicly accessible computer. And if you don’t want to listen to me, let me defer to security expert Steve Gibson of the Security Now! podcast; if you don’t believe him, you’re just beyond help!

…it would be nice to be able to say that there’s a way to reliably defeat keyloggers on public computers. And I’ve got to say that there isn’t. I can’t think of probably anything more frightening than using a public computer, that is, like a computer in a library or in an Internet cafe that is being used by lots of people, I can’t think of anything more frightening than to use such a machine for critical, sensitive work…I don’t think there’s any way you could argue that anything you could do…could make it safe. There could be a keystroke logger in the keyboard.

… So I would like to completely disabuse anyone from the idea that using a public computer can be safe.

Thanks for the help, Steve. I agree!

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