One of our regular readers emailed us to ask this very simple question When Should I Choose to Remember Password on websites and on my PC?. Looking at the question I remembered a big mistake I had made in the past, so let me tell you about that before I give you the solution.
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This is a real situation I have faced in life, and my work colleagues can vouch for it.
The Unwanted Situation of Remembering Passwords in Public Locations
I once had to stay home, and had the convenience of internet access. The problem arose when my internet provider suddenly went offline, and I had urgent work to do.
I went across to a local internet cafe and logged onto Yahoo Messenger to follow up with my colleagues, and let them know that my home internet connection was down.
Unfortunately for me the electricity at that internet cafe went off. Now I moved to another cafe to continue discussing with my colleagues.
After about 15 minutes of chatting with my colleagues my Yahoo chat session started acting very weird. It kept on logging off, and when I did login eventually it kept logging me out.
This kept on happening for 20-30 minutes till one of my colleagues called me and said, Why the heck are you sending weird messages to us?.
I was practically bamboozled. I tried logging into to Yahoo over and over again but every time I was logged out. That is when I actually looked at the message. It said, You have been signed out because you signed in on a different computer or device.
I was puzzled as I usually use very strong passwords, and there was no chance that someone could easily access it.
What was my mistake?
Little did I realize that while I logged onto Yahoo Messenger in both the internet cafes, I had selected both Sign in automatically and Remember my ID & password. I always did that on my home PC for convenience and followed that trend all over.
Later on I came to know that the electricity in the other internet cafe came up, and someone else who started using the same PC got access to my account, since I had chosen the Remember my password option.
I quickly went ahead and changed my password to resolve the issue and then apologized to all my colleagues, explaining about the problem that had occurred.
When Should You Use Remember My Password?
The feature of remembering passwords offered by websites and applications including web browsers is extremely useful. However, never use that option in a public place or you might end up in much worse situation than me.
In addition to that, buy a portable flash drive and dump a portable browser, and a whole host of other useful portable software that will allow you to continue working privately without having to store anything on the public computer you are accessing.
What else? How do you securely and privately access internet in public places? Do share your thoughts and horror stories in the comments.
Image Credit: Unknown Flickr User