Security away from home
Question : I'm
concerned about a trip I'll be on this coming school holiday. I won't carry
a laptop and was planning to pay my bills online, either at friends' homes
or from cybercafes. But I'm worried that one of those computers will hide a
keystroke-logging program. Any advice?
Answer : That's an excellent point -- how do you know a strange
computer will be safe? Usually, you can't.
Keystroke-logging programs, which record every tap of the keyboard to
capture such data as your passwords, hide themselves quite well. And
installing and running a spyware scanner on every new cybercafe computer
isn't too practical.
Using a friend's computer is no guarantee of safety, either, unless you
know this person's computing hygiene exceptionally well. (That said, if your
friend runs Mac OS X or Linux, the odds of trouble are far lower than if
Windows is used.)
The smarter option is to set up automatic bill payments in advance. You
can usually let your credit card issuers and utilities deduct each month's
total from a designated bank account, and most banks allow you to schedule
online bill payments in advance.
Either way, you get the added benefit of not having to worry about your
bills while you're on vacation.