Can you secure Windows for Internet Cafes?

I use Internet Cafes fairly often. I travel a lot, and I like to check my email while on the road. There’s just one catch: I like to connect to my home computer via ssh, and Windows doesn’t ship with an ssh client. However, there is an excellent free ssh client called Putty. But most…

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Guess what: It usually took me less than ten minutes to run Putty. I am not a hacker, I am a power user at best. It’s just that Windows doesn’t provide a mechanism to control execute access. I recall three instances where I ran Putty:

  • At Kinko’s I could run Putty after renaming it into “notepad.exe”.
  • At an Airport Internet Terminal, I could doubleclick the file I downloaded to the desktop. Before I could get to the file, I had to disable active desktop, which previously kept it out of sight.
  • At EasyInternet in Times Square in New York, I saved the file, saved it a second time, and when the “Save as…” dialog popped up, I could right-click the previously saved copy of Putty and select “Open”, which executed it.

Ask yourself whether you consider executing any application a security risk (even if other resources like the hard drive are secured). I think it is, as this really allows anybody to launch truly untrackable attacks.


One response to “Can you secure Windows for Internet Cafes?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    It’s not that they’re not trying – Easy has 700 terminals in Times Square! Unbelievalble that they don’t put more effort into securing so many machines!