July 29, 2014 1 Comment-
People are always advised to sign-out of any online accounts when they’re finished with them, but why? After all, it’s more convenient to leave yourself signed in and get instant access to your online presence.
The advice “always sign out” comes from a time when most people shared personal computers. Families would have one PC per home, while libraries would provide computer services to millions of users. This meant that many people would use the same computers, and therefore leaving yourself signed-in meant that the person after you could access your accounts.
With an ever-increasing number of people owning their own computer, both family systems and library services are in decline. In fact, sharing computers is typical only in internet cafes, used when abroad or when the home printer has broken.
However, while the advice may seem a bit outdated, it’s still vitally important to sign out of your accounts on these multi-user systems. If not, you could be leaving your accounts open to anyone. And because internet cafes are not monitored, you might never find out who used the computer after you and ordered from your Amazon account.
Email is key
The most important account to sign-out from is your email account. This is because pretty much all other online accounts use your email address as your username, and allow you to send a new password to it.
If someone has access to your email account, they’ll be able to access your Amazon account, your eBay account, your PayPal account and your Facebook account simply by resetting your password. If you can suddenly not sign in to any of these services, there’s a good chance that someone has reset your password by gaining access to your email account.
Should I sign out at home?
There’s some debate regarding whether you should sign-out from your accounts on your home computer – especially if no one else uses it.
Many computer security experts suggest that if you have a user-level lock on your Windows or Mac account, then you’ve got enough security to stop people from accessing your accounts if your computer is stolen.
Some, however, believe that leaving yourself signed in makes it easy for VNC malware (malware that allows criminals to remotely control your computer) to access your information.
It’s up to you to decide what’s more important – definite safety, or ease-of-use? Honestly, I leave myself signed in on my laptop. It’s never out of my sight, it has decent virus protection and I wouldn’t like the inconvenience of signing in every time.