The next time you travel, treat public computers in hotels like public toilets. In other words: Only use them if you’re desperate!
That’s the message from identity theft expert, Robert Sicilliano. He says any time you use a shared computer – like the ones you’ll find in hotel business centers - you’re putting your online security at risk. That’s because you have no control over who uses the computers, or what gets loaded on them. So, you’ll have no idea if the machines are loaded with spyware, tracking every word you type – or malware, infecting every file you send with a virus!
For example: Sicilliano says many people use the business centers in hotels to check email while they’re away from home. But he says there’s nothing to stop criminals from plugging a device into those computers, which can snap screen-shots of your username and password. Plus, if you suddenly walk away from a public computer - to deal with a phone call, for example - your account may stay logged in. That means the next person who comes along has access to every email you’ve written, along with your online bank statements, and other sensitive information.
That’s why Sicilliano says skip the computers in hotel business centers. When you’re traveling, he recommends only using a personal mobile device to access the Internet, and if you have important photos or files to share with others, carry them on a separate flash-drive that you can plug into other machines.