If You Sign In, Then Sign Out (A Little Bedtime Story for Information Consumers)

One of the easiest ways for someone to steal our information, accounts, and credit is for us to be stupid... ok, more politely, ignorant. Ignorant doesn't make you feel any better? Sorry, I think that captures it. But it's a popular ignorant evidently... I am talking about an ignorant that means "uneducated" on a particular issue, not ignorant as in "vulgar". The second easiest way to be exposed to information fraud is to be friends with someone who is ignorant. That's a little harder to control, but let's start some conversation with our friends and see if we can stem the ignorance a bit and make our worlds a little safer.

If I describe you, or someone you know, in this article, rest assured, you are not alone and I wouldn't be describing you if I thought this is a shameful kind of ignorant... The topic is just something that computer experts think is intuitively obvious. Probably even a fair number of readers will think, "Uh Duh!" when I tell you my story. We are all at risk as long as we have one ignorant friend. So here is my story, please share it.

Recently, I went to Verizon to get a new phone. While I was waiting, I was looking at the demo phone options. I picked up the demonstrator Motorola Droid. I tapped the Facebook app and up pops an actual Facebook account with posts and an address book and conversations. I thought, "This is nice, I get to actually see the app in action on the phone." I pointed it out to the associate when he came over and expressed how nice I thought that was that they have demo accounts. He said, "We don't have any demo accounts." What?!?

Someone (I won't name names, but I could as well as a lot of other information.) had logged into their Facebook account on a demo phone and had left it there for all to use. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to post a very motherly note on this persons timeline. I really had to hold back when I considered sending a suggestion to all of his/her friends that it is not safe to be friends with this person. But I didn't. I just signed the person out.

So on further conversation, the associate tells me... "It happens all the time!" ALL THE TIME!

The cloud is a lovely convenience. Our information is available to us just about anywhere we go. But you need to know. If you "sign in" to something on the cloud, you really need to "sign out" when you are done. This is true especially if you are not on your own computer or phone. If you don't know how to sign out, don't sign in unless you are on your own computer. Period. If you are going to use someone else's computer or phone to check your email, facebook, twitter, ... Make sure you know how to sign out.

Further, if you carry a computer or tablet out of your home, you should have an access password on the device. And not an easy one. If your computer goes missing (it happens), a decent access password will help a little, but you should know, if I get your computer and you leave all your accounts logged, I can get into a lot of mischief and I am not even clever about these things.

So learn it's as simple as securing your home. Sign in, sign out. Thank you for protecting my security. Feel free to share this article... especially with your children. Please!