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The Silly Burglar

Mark Edwards

In an Associated Press story from 10th February:

Authorities are seeking a burglar who allegedly took the time to make coffee, cook and eat meals, take showers, pick out a change of clothes, watch television and check his e-mail while inside three rural Washington County homes.

Lori Menzel of the town of Kewaskum said the burglar left his Yahoo account open after checking his personal e-mail on the computer at her home.

The actions of this burglar leave some lessons for the rest of us, apart from the obvious one that if you are going to rob someone, don't leave your webmail account open for the police to find!

Firstly, you should think about the risk of someone stealing not just your physical possessions but also the keys to your online persona. If a burglar could easily access your home computer and your online banking username and password are taped to the side of your monitor then you could easily improve your security.

Just as you would at work, don't ever leave your passwords lying around in an obvious spot. Just as most burglars know to look under the mat and in the pot plant near the door for your spare keys, the computer literate ones will know to look in the top drawer for your passwords.

When you have finished a secure session with your bank or other online service, logout or shut down the browser to end the session.

When you are not using your computer log off so that you or an unauthorised user needs to enter a password to access your PC again.

These same rules apply if you are in an Internet cafe. Make sure you log out of any sites you are using before leaving.

As someone once told me, a clever person learns by their own mistakes, a very clever person learns by the mistakes of others. It is up to you to decide which category you fall into.

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