BAD GUYS IN THE BUSINESS CENTER

Hotel and library computers are easy to compromise. In short, they’re generally not safe from hackers wanting to steal your information or your identity.

We used a hotel’s “business center” computer a while back at L’Auberge in Del Mar, Cal., a three-star hotel, no less, and within a couple of days started getting scurrilous ads in our email. At the “Conrad” inIndianapolis, one of the Hilton upscale hotels, we noticed the computers in the business center had not been upgraded in more than four years, and did not seem at all well protected. Joy installed the latest Internet Explorer. She shouldn’t have been able to do that.

Almost no computer that can be accessed by the public is safe from someone installing the kind of software that logs your keystrokes – every letter and number you punch in.  So we got pitched recently about a $30 program that encrypts every keystroke you enter, everything you type.

It’s called “GuardedID,” and sells for $30. We were skeptical, because that is our natural state. So we asked the CEO of Malwarebytes.org, a leader in anti-malware products, if this sort of thing would work. He said that encrypting text at the keyboard level can definitely deter keyloggers.

OK, so whether you add GuardedID to your anti-virus and anti-spyware arsenal depends on how paranoid you are. We decided to install it. We may not need it, but remember: even paranoids have enemies.

One thing that put us off was you have to enter your credit card information on the company’s web site to get access to a free 30-day trial. If you don’t cancel within 30 days, bingo!: you bought it. We think of this as “New Jerseymarketing.” If you’re gonna give us a free trial, give us a free trial; cut the pussy footing.

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