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How to Stay Secure on Public Computers in 2018

You don’t know what’s on it. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to public computers. It’s hard to stay secure on public computers if you don’t know what kind of hidden software is on them. If you meet somebody, you can generally tell what they are like. You can feel their vibes. With a computer, you don’t know. Somebody could be looking at every action you take. Somebody could be taking your passwords. Perhaps they are stealing your confidential documents. I don’t know. You don’t know. And that’s a problem. It’s super easy to put anything on a computer, and you wouldn’t even know. The advice would be not to use them, but that is not always an option.

So what can you do to stay secure on public computers in 2018?

Limit Using Your Online Accounts

If you know you will have to print out a document, instead of using your Google Drive account, use a USB drive. Or make a dummy account with a password you never use. See the problem is that most of us have the same passwords for everything. It takes somebody seeing one password to lose access to all account.

But if you prepare what you need before going to a library, you will highly increase chances of staying secure on public computers.

Great, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes it’s an emergency, and you do need to use one of your accounts. That’s when the 2-step verification is so important. Make sure to have it on. See, somebody can take your password, but they can’t take your phone which will be needed for the second password. That will increase your chances of staying secure.

Use a VPN

Keeping passwords is great but, if somebody can see your history and where sites you are visiting, that can also be dangerous. That’s where encryption comes in. There is a way to make everything you do on the internet encrypted from the government, network providers, and the people in the library themselves.

If you use a VPN which is a virtual private network, you are encrypting yourself to a point where whatever you do online is essentially gibberish to anybody trying to see that information. PrivateVPN comes with 256-bit encryption for instance. It would take trillions of dollars to crack that kind of encryption. Perhaps that’s why the U.S. government uses it.

There are still other threats such as the potential of somebody recording your screen with hidden software, but that is highly unlikely considering most computers in a library are not powerful enough to do that.

If you are looking to stay secure on public computers, using a VPN is essential. So how do you set it up?

The fastest way would be to put the installation file on a USB drive and to simply install it from that. But this might or might not work at all on a public computer depending on whether information deletes itself from a computer once a computer is restarted and on whether you can even install anything. If you can do that then great, if not, try to stick to not using any accounts and not searching for content that you don’t want others to see.

  • But if you can install and restart a computer without information deleting right away, then download the PrivateVPN client from our download page and put it onto a USB drive. Unless you decide to download it when already using a public computer.
  • Install it.
  • Then make sure to create an account on our site, although you should probably do it before going to a library. To create an account, press the Buy button on the top-right of the screen. It’s a 3 step process so you should have an account in no time at all.
  • After you have your account made, provide the details in the PrivateVPN client and connect to whatever server you desire. That’s how you stay encrypted. We offer 56 different server locations meaning that if you connect to an American server in a library in Ireland, you will be assumed to be in the US by all services that you decide to use.

Use an Encrypted USB Drive

What if you have a bank statement on your USB drive and somebody transfers it from that drive? It’s possible. A simple piece of software can do that. Well, unless there’s encryption present. Just like encryption provided by PrivateVPN helps people on the internet, encryption on drives keeps content on drives secure. If you are planning to bring your information on a drive, make sure it’s encrypted so nobody can copy the contents of it.


It’s hard to stay secure on public computers. Sometimes you will need to use them though and implementing these things will make you more secure.

Written by Michael Smolski.