Security is a very important issue on the internet today. Browsing the internet often comes with security risks that some internet users are not even aware of. Your internet security risks increases tremendously if you browse using public PCs as found in cyber cafes.
A Cyber cafe (a.k.a Internet Cafe) is a place where internet applications are accessible to the public. Customers buy airtime in order to have access to the internet via PCs available in the internet cafe LAN network. The airtime contains a password for logging into the PC.
Customers can also come with a laptop and connect to the cyber cafe’s network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
In Nigeria and other developing countries where internet penetration is still low, accessing the internet via cyber cafes remain quite popular especially when doing important transactions.
Although the advent of mobile devices like Smartphones and Tablets have made visiting cyber cafes less attractive, there are still some transactions that require laptops and desktops and if you don’t have one visiting a cyber cafe becomes essential.
There are certain times that you may require a cyber cafe, like when you are out of town or network not available to mention a few.
Everyday thousands of Nigerians visit internet cafes that dot our major cities to access internet, but most of them ignorant of the security issues.
What are these internet security issues?
The major internet security issue is that someone could be watching.
Someone could be watching
Internet cafes being public places you can never really guarantee your privacy in a cyber cafe. Some internet cafes in Nigeria do not even help matters, they cram so many PCs together (in order to maximize profit) making it impossible for you to have any resemblance of privacy.
Look for an internet cafe that gives you some level of privacy. They may cost a bit more but it is worth the extra security.
Beware of Malware and Loggers
Security and privacy is not just about those watching your PC monitor, it may even be done electronically using key loggers and screen grabbers.
A key logger is a program (virus/spyware) that monitors your activities in a computer noting the websites visited and all keys pressed while in any website and pipe-lining the data to the hard disk or to a website designed for such a purpose.
Screen grabbers are also spyware and does same as a keylogger, but they grab the content on the display.
This is your main security threat in an internet cafe. One way to counter the threat of key loggers and screen grabbers is to browse with your private laptop at the internet cafe. The laptop should also have the latest antivirus and firewall installed.
If you are browsing via wireless LAN (WLAN/Wi-Fi) in an internet cafe, make sure you are using a safe Wi-Fi connection. Safe Wi-Fi connection is provided by antivirus software. In addition to an Anti-Virus Software, you should also have an Anti-Malware like MalwareBytes Premium.
As much as is possible avoid using public computers as found in cyber cafes for sensitive transactions that involves entering your financial details or such sensitive data.
If you do not have your own private laptop, there is very little you can do to protect yourself in an internet cafe. The only thing you can do is to ensure that the latest antivirus software is installed or avoid doing sensitive transactions online. Antivirus software will detect a virus real-time and remove it from the PC.
In Nigeria, internet cafes without a known antivirus should be viewed with suspicion. This is because such an internet cafe is likely to be used by fraudsters, widening your internet security risks even further.
The problem with using such an internet cafe is that the owner may be ignorant of the security issues (innocent). In such a case, anyone can install a key logger or spyware on the PC in other to collect information about users. Key loggers can also be installed online. Some websites called phishing sites install key loggers on your PC when you visit them on the internet. In some cases, the internet cafe owner may even be the one to install the key logger.
Only an antivirus and/or firewall software can stop them.
Some great antivirus software to lookout for includes Kaspersky and Avast. This antivirus software updates their antivirus definition file daily giving you the security you deserve.
Most Internet cafes ignore your security, most do not even install antivirus on their system. Connecting your home to the internet is one way to improve your security.
Then you can control your security threats on the internet. If you have internet access at home, make sure you install antivirus software like Kaspersky or Avast. Do not buy all those old, outdated, and pirated Kaspersky and Avast antivirus software being recycled by pirates, as they are of no use. Note that Avast and Kaspersky are available for free download on the internet.
You can download Kaspersky and Avast antivirus online, if you have internet access.
Only by installing latest versions of antivirus will you reduce your security risks on the internet.