Staying logged onto an account is like leaving the doors and windows to your house unlocked all the time, and can set you up for becoming a victim of identity theft. With unlocked doors, anyone can get in and cause disaster.
I’m an identity theft and security analyst (both online and offline). I’m going to explain why it’s so important to always log out, so that you don’t put yourself at risk for identity theft.
On public computers, always log out. Never remain logged into one of your accounts, because the user after you can get on it, or, someone loitering nearby may look over your shoulder and gain information: enough to steal your identity.
Using a public Wi-Fi? Always log out. A public Wi-Fi is intrinsically untrusted. Staying logged on means a possible session cookie theft – something you wouldn’t be aware of. You may not even be able to log out, either.
If you’re able to log out, but the session cookie theft has already occurred, at least the logout will prevent continued access by the thief.
- · If your logout is blocked, visit a trusted network, log in and then log out.
- · Even better is to alter your password on a trusted site.
- · To prevent any of this hassle, though, simply do not access an important site from an untrusted network.
Using an application that uses HTTP basic authentication? Close all browser tabs and log out. This is because a browser caches your password when you log into a webapp using basic authentication. The webapp will not log out just because you do, even if you do so repeatedly.
The webapp does not know how to end the session. Closing out the browser tabs, however, clears out the cached password.
Identity theft is a growing concern, so when can you stay logged in?
- When you use applications for frequent use all day. This would include your e-mail account, Facebook-anything that would pose a nuisance if you had to repeatedly keep logging in and out, over and over, in the course of a day. But stay logged in only on your own computer or a trusted network. If the computer is at work, lock it or lock your office any time you leave, even for briefly.
- When you use a non-sensitive, trivial service. These would be temporary accounts that you’d discard.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. Help avoid it by always logging out!
You may be able to get a refund within 30 days of purchase, but beyond that, many sites say you must deal directly with the product’s manufacturer (you’ll need to pay for return shipping). Another problem is when the website is not an authorized dealer for the product you bought.
- Make sure the site is an authorized dealer. Contact the manufacturer if necessary. Read the terms and conditions.
- Be suspicious of sites that you know or believe will send you tons of spam after your purchase.
Infected computer, or your payments are disrupted.
- Never give out credit card information unless the Internet connection is secured.
- Don’t peruse the Web unless the computer (or smartphone) is protected.
- Make sure the retailer’s URL begins with a “https” (the “s” is necessary) preceded by a padlock icon.
Employ these security measures so that your online shopping ventures can be fun and safe, rather than become a nightmare!