Secure IT Foundation

Using other computers – Work, Travel and Public

Posted on: October 5, 2009

If you have secured your computer using the Secure Computer Standard, read the Home Computer Policy and reviewed your own risks with the Risk Profile Questionnaire then your home computer will be in a more secure state than most people. That is great until you need to use another computer… in work, on holiday, at the library or Internet Cafe etc. The best advice is not to use it and go home to your secured computer! Not very practical though, so what steps can you take when you use an insecure public or work computer.

Work:

  • Work computers are for work. If you read personal emails, visit Facebook, complain about the company on Hyves or blog about your sex life, then expect your company to read everything you are doing. They own the computers, the network and most probably have a security team to make sure you don’t steal corporate information or ruin the company’s reputation.
  • Create a dedicated web based email address for personal emails while in work, tell everyone to send all the jokes, porn and video links to your home email address only, and remind them that your work web based email address is readable by the security team  / manager in work so keep it clean.
  • Only click on funny / adult / non work related links at home as again the security team will monitor the Internet access for a large company. No point being sacked for a amusingly dressed dog video!
  • Never use your work email address for personal emails unless there is no other option.
  • Always create strong passwords even for your work accounts, and never reuse the same passwords in work as at home. Why let you work’s security team nose around your personal emails just because you had the same password! Treat any security questions for forgotten passwords as another password and make the answer unique to you, not the name of your football team or favourite movie star.

Travel:

  • If you cannot take your own secured laptop, then you will need to use other computers. This is a risk every time you logon with a password as it may be deliberately / accidentally captured by the person who manages the computer. Same goes for any personal or financial information you access or send while using the computer.
  • Avoid accessing bank account sites while abroad unless there is no other option, as you run the risk that criminals may run that computer in the cafe purely to steal travellers’ financial information.
  • Create a travel web based email address like ‘romeoginger234on holiday’ if your normal email is ‘romeoginger234’. Tell everyone you will be sending your emails from this address while away, and to be careful what info they do send, as you will be using insecure computers to access the email. Change your password whenever you change country or destination so you know no one can use it at the last place you went. Avoid accessing your main email account unless you there is no other option.
  • When you get home, change your passwords for all accounts you used on your travels, email everyone to use your main address again, forward any emails you want to keep to your main email address from the travel account and delete the travel email account.
  • If there is a risk of kidnapping, agree a phrase you will use with close relatives and friends to say you are ok and when something has gone wrong or you need urgent help. Most kidnapping involves a ransom so there is usually a chance to verify the kidnapped person is alive on the phone, and to use the phrase.

Public:

  • If you cannot take your own secured laptop, then you will need to use public computers. This is a risk every time you logon with a password as it may be deliberately / accidentally captured by the person who manages the computer. Same goes for any personal or financial information you access or send while using the computer.
  • Avoid accessing bank account sites unless there is no other option, as you run the risk that criminals may run that computer purely to steal travellers’ financial information.
  • Create a web based email address for public use like ‘romeoginger234onthemove’ if your normal email is ‘romeoginger234’. Use this public account to send emails but always use your main account when registering for new sites or services. Change your password whenever you get home so you know no one can use the password from the last place you went. Avoid accessing your main email account unless you there is no other option and again change the password when back on a secure computer.

SB

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