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An Open Secret

It’s a balmy 25 degrees (that's Celsius, not Fahrenheit!) by the pool, but back in Kyiv it’s minus 2°. You hook your tablet up to the hotel Wi-Fi and send a quick pic to your freezing friends!

Type the text hereToday it’s easy to keep in touch, buy things, check your bank account or do your tax returns anywhere in the world. Even without a secure established connection – through your company network, home router or SIM card, for instance – a public network is never far away.

You might find:

•Wi-Fi or public/shared networks in parks, restaurants, hotels, friends’ houses, suppliers’ offices, etc.
•free or fee-paying shared computers or mobile devices in hotel business facilities, taxis, internet cafes, airport terminals and other facilities open to the public.

But we often forget that ‘public’ essentially means unsecured, whether unintentionally or not. This makes your personal or confidential information prone to theft. Here’s how:

•When you use a shared computer, all the information you enter, including passwords and bank details, may be saved. Some free or bargain-basement software programs can do this, or the computer may be infected with a Trojan horse, for example.
•When you connect to a public network, even from your own computer or device, the access provider can set up false login pages for email, banks, payment sites and more in order to retrieve passwords.
•Malware may piggyback on legitimate software downloads or updates.

Following these few simple rules will help you stay safe when using a shared computer or network.

•Never leave your computer, phone or tablet unlocked and unattended. This is more important than ever before.
•Never log in to banking or work apps, or your email, from a shared computer in a hotel, internet cafe, airport, etc. Never buy anything online or create/save documents that contain sensitive information, be it private or work-related.
•Never enter your bank details on a website that doesn’t start with “https://” and display the lock symbol. That goes for any network or device.
•Never download ‘required’ software to connect to a public network.
•If you have to create a password to access the network, use one that is different from all your other ones.
•Don’t let anyone else use your computer, tablet or smartphone.
•Don’t install updates when using a public connection.

In addition to avoiding these technical risks, you must be on your guard at all times – your safety depends on it! You could set up a privacy filter to stop others seeing your screen. And you should also monitor what you say in public, for instance when on the phone, having lunch with colleagues, taking the lift, walking down a corridor or using public transport.

In short, follow these simple rules to reduce the risk of your information falling into the wrong hands.

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