The average computer is stuffed full of web history, usernames for sites and even the passwords you use to access them. Any one with even a simple computer forensics tool can pick up a huge amount of data from your home PC that you were probably unaware even existed.
For example - try this program Systems Information for Windows, just download the free version and have a look at all the information and passwords it can extract in a matter of seconds.
Here's a sample it picked up from one of my computers (obviously censored!). Each line is a web site and password used to access that site. That's just one page from this computer and it picked up about 5 pages full of personal details, account names and passwords.
The sort of passwords it can pick up are as follows -
- Windows Logon Passwords
- Screen Saver Passwords
- RAS and Dial Up
- Internet Explorer
- MSN and other Messenger Clients
- Wireless ( WPA/WEP/SSID) Keys
- FTP Usernames and Passwords
Plus quite a few more, all stored on your local machine and easily accessible. I urge you to have a look and see what sort of details it picks up from your own machine. You'll probably find Amazon, Paypal and Ebay accounts all plainly visible.
Remember this is the free version of some software that you can download in minutes. For a few bucks you can actually download much more powerful versions of similar software used by forensic scientists and investigators.
Just imagine if you were a cyber criminal in need of a few bucks. What would you find by running this program on one of those Cyber Cafe computers or perhaps a Hotel Lobby computer people use to check their emails and bank accounts? Lots of potential for raiding an account or perhaps some identity theft armed with some personal details, a password to your email and Ebay account. Even if they pick up a username and password to a fairly harmless website, how many people use the same user names and passwords for all their online accounts?
Of course if you search this blog you'll find tips and tricks on how to surf securely. Using the privacy modes available in most new browsers will stop a lot of this information being stored locally. That's of course if it isn't there already !