From the New York Times, a nice little piece about privacy (or lack thereof) on the road:
Using a public computer can also mean courting trouble, because data viewed while surfing the Web, printing a document or opening an e-mail attachment is generally stored on the computer — meaning it could be accessible to the next person who sits down. (To remove traces of your work, delete any documents you have viewed, clear the browser cache and the history file and empty the trash before you walk away.)
“You also run the risk that somebody has loaded a program on there that can capture your log-ins and passwords,” Mr. Louderback said, recalling an incident a few years ago when a Queens resident was caught installing this type of “key logger” software on computers at several Kinko’s locations in New York.
As the article points out, it’s a scary, scary world out there. Public computers can be searched for passwords or equipped with malicious keyloggers. Wiireless hot spots can be raided with packet sniffers. There are software solutions for getting around these, but the easiest solution is also the safest:
Absolutely never check your bank account on a public computer. And be careful about checking it on a wireless hotspot.
One thing the article lacked was a real discussion of how prevalent this kind of identity theft is. What are the statistics on this kind of thing, Dan? How much identity theft (or for that matter, data theft) comes out of these kinds of interactions – do we have any ideas?