Some businesses and services offer public use of their computers and internet systems. For example, libraries frequently provide use of computers, and many shops provide internet access. While large companies have full IT departments, small businesses will have to rely on their own expertise, perhaps supplemented by contracting knowledgeable professionals for bits of work when needed. In this post, I will give a few guidelines on two specific things which can help to protect yourself and your patrons.

First, publicly available computers should be completely wiped and reset frequently. Libraries are a good example of businesses where computers are accessible to the public, and frequently will have a succession of users unfamiliar with one another. This situation can create a serious security risk for your patrons. First, users might not be particularly careful with their browsing. They might also lack computer literacy, and could potentially download malware. However, there also can be malicious users.  Most of the time that we talk about malware, we discuss how even when a user tries to avoid it, it can still infect a system. However, if the user is actively attempting to install malware, things can become much worse. Some people can see systems like this as ripe for accessing personal data. If someone wants to steal personal information from others, they can go attempt to install malware on a computer, and then wait for unsuspecting users to come along and enter their personal or financial information. In order to avoid this, computers should be wiped and completely reset frequently. Additionally, filters can be used to attempt to prevent the installation of malware.

Second, publicly available internet systems can serve as a vector for the spread of malware. The best thing that you can do here is to keep your business computers on a separate wireless network than your publicly available one. If you let every visitor onto your internet, they have the potential to understand and then spoof your system. While this does not protect your customers, it means that any hackers will have a much harder time accessing your business data. This can be incredibly important in ensuring that your customers are protected. If you have any of their financial or personal information, a data breach can be an incredibly embarrassing and damaging event. Keeping your public and private systems completely separate will help to ensure that your systems are safe.

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