A friend of mine has had one of those embarrassing little gotchas… he used a “public” computer and either didn’t log off from his yahoo account or the machine just remembered ALL the passwords it ever has had typed into it.

Either way, an email was sent from his account and even though the content of the message was obviously way way way out of character, the recipient chose to believe it. (Which is probably the justification for me writing a book on human psychology rather than a blog post).

Now I will probably need to do this in a couple of parts (it’s a big topic). So lets start with “friendly” browsers.

As a rule of thumb if you “borrow” a PC to just quickly check your email and the only browser offer is IE run away be very careful… my favourite warning sign is to start typing in the http://www.google.com address. If the AUTOCOMPLETE kicks in then there is a good chance that the remember passwords option is on.

The AutoComplete and remember password features are intended to save you time and typing by remembering text you’ve recently entered and automatically filling it in again if the browser thinks it recognizes what you’re typing. If you’ve been to different areas of the same site, the browser may also present you with a list of addresses to choose from.

AutoComplete can also remember user names and passwords and information used in Web forms. If you’d prefer not to use the feature — or want to erase any stored passwords or form information — you can adjust your browser settings.

So where to look to turn it off.
In IE, go to Tools > Internet Options. Click on the Content tab and then on the AutoComplete button.

In the AutoComplete settings box, you can see what information the browser will remember and this is also where you clear out stored passwords and form data.

For the 59% of you reading this using IE go and have a look now… we’ll wait.

All done? Good. I would write down that path so that you can go there at the end of your session and flush out where you have been.

It wont stop determined people but it will help stop drive by “alleged jokers”.

Also have a look at a previous post on “Delete your history in windows

Next we will have a look how to tell where the email came from (as opposed to what the FROM line says).

Your homework is to head over to Spam Links – reading email headers page and have a browse.

The resources on that page will help you to understand what the different parts of an email header mean, and how that can help you to trace an emails path.

Keep in mind “just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong”.


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