Staying Private in Public

Have you ever logged into your home computer and noticed the search history from your phone was also showing up in your home browser? More and more, online resources like Google and Microsoft are requiring you to have an account to provide a synchronous user experience across your devices.

The algorithm Google uses to learn your interests based on search results and retain your history is mostly beneficial, however, it’s important to remember that these services store your personal data in the cloud and it’s your responsibility not to link any accounts to work computers or public devices.

Your search results are just some of the over 100 billion searches being processed by Google every month. This is a staggering number especially considering Google is not the only search engine available. Those search results, as well as any data you've saved are tied directly to whatever account you created to use services like Gmail or Outlook online. For instance, users with a Gmail account may save pictures or other files within Google Drive, which is a personalized online data repository. This is great for being able to grab your data from any device with an internet connection as long as that device is secure.

We’re all guilty of doing personal business at work, so much so that many people also save the log in credentials for non-work related websites within the browser. This makes it faster to access your mail, shopping sites and financial institutions, but also leaves you at risk of having someone else access your data. If you leave your job, or someone else uses your work computer, those cached credentials will enable the next user to potentially log into the sites that contain your personal and financial data. To safeguard against such a scenario do not save your username or password for any account containing personal information or interests on devices used by anyone other than yourself. Most browsers include a feature to disable password saving, which is recommended on computers used by more than one person. It is far more likely to have your data jeopardized due to misuse of your browser than it is for your password to simply be stolen.

When it comes to your online safety a password is only as good as the way you’re managing it. Remember, it isn’t your banking website or Gmail account that is saving your password, it’s your browser. If you’re using public or corporate devices make it a point to refrain from checking personal accounts or clear your cache prior to logging off. Your online security is only as good as your browsing habits. It is up to the individual to help protect themselves online.