Starbucks Safety: Security Tips for Public Computing

Millions of workers, cooped up at home for nearly a year, are taking every opportunity to escape the house. Take a couple precautions with you…

Maybe your local library has reopened, or maybe you favor a coffee shop as a place to spend an hour or two working. It’s important to note that hackers haven’t stopped snooping —heed these tips from the pros to reduce your risk.

Mind your hygiene. Your computer hygiene, that is. During the pandemic-related lockdowns, many users slacked off on updating their software, creating strong passwords, and using top-shelf anti-malware tools. Now’s the time to get back in these good habits.

Know your network. A favorite tactic of cyber-attackers is to create bogus wifi hotspots with comforting names like “coffeeshop_hotspot” or “FreeMallWifi.” They then wait for unsuspecting users to log in and launch man-in-the-middle attacks with the goal of intercepting sensitive data. Before signing into a hotspot, confirm its name with an employee.

Think carefully about what you send. Even if you’re logged in correctly and your PC is up to date, any wireless transmission of information entails risk. This should be a factor in what tasks you perform in public places. Checking email and staying in touch with co-workers or clients is probably fine—but you may want to wait before emailing critical product information, and you should never bank online in public areas.

Be aware of your surroundings. Not all spying is of the cyber variety. Thieves are quite adept at “shoulder surfing”—peering over your shoulder to make note of your passwords or other sensitive data. Try to arrange yourself so that your screen isn’t visible to others.

© National Security Institute, Inc.


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