Using shared computers

Many of us access the Internet from different locations — a friend's house to check email, an Internet café to check a stock quote, or the library to research a term paper. Sharing a computer is a great convenience, but you must take extra precautions to safeguard your personal information.

Here are some tips to help protect your Yahoo! account when you use a shared or public computer.

Do not check the "Remember my ID on this computer" box

Many sites, including Yahoo!, offer this option. When a computer "remembers" you, it usually sets a persistent cookie on the computer that allows the web site to identify you so you don't have to sign in. If you check this option, you'll remain signed in after you close your browser. This is a convenient option if you are the only user of a computer, but if you share a computer, do not check this option. Learn more.

Never leave a computer unattended while signed-in

If someone uses the computer in your absence, they can easily access your account information.

Always sign out completely

If you use a public or shared computer, it's especially important to sign out completely. Always click the "Sign Out" link when you are finished accessing your Yahoo! account.

Clear the browser's cache

The browser keeps a cache, containing a copy of web pages you visited. The cache may be stored on the computer's local drive. Clearing the cache is simple, and will prevent subsequent computer users from viewing the sites you visited while online. See your browser's help for details on how to clear the cache.

Keep an eye out for "shoulder surfers"

Use caution — sneaky thieves may try to watch your fingers as you type your password.

Avoid confidential transactions

Don't use a public or shared computer to log in to a bank account or other online service that accesses confidential information. You should access these web sites only on a trusted computer.

Be wary of spyware

Any computer that you do not personally control is hard to trust. It could have spyware, such as keystroke loggers, or other malicious software installed. Think about the precautions you would take on your own computer and consider if other computers have the same safeguards. If a computer is infected with spyware, even clearing the browser cache or closing the browser and opening it again will not protect you because spyware programs record everything you type.

Check with the computer's owner or administrator before using it to find out what security precautions have been taken. Find out if anti-virus and anti-spyware software are installed, how often the computers are scanned for vulnerabilities, and whether security updates are current.

Never save passwords

Many web browsers and other programs will automatically offer to save passwords for you — do not use this feature on a shared computer!

Change your password often

If you use shared computers frequently, make a habit of changing your password often in case you use a computer that's been compromised by spyware or malware. Be sure that you change your password only on a trusted (preferably non-shared) computer. Learn more about creating strong passwords.