Why Logging Out of Websites is Important
When you use online services such as email, online social networking, or blogs, you are required to input a user name and password for identification and security purposes. When you do, cookies are stored in your computer to “remember” you.
What are Cookies?
Cookies or web cookies are text files that are stored in your computer that help websites and other web services “remember” your identity and preferences. These files are used by websites to track for statistics.
Why is it Important to Log out?
Almost any online service requires you to log-in and log out. When you click that button, it instructs your Internet browser to delete the cookie file for your session at that time. Once that cookie is deleted, that website then “forgets” the session you just had.
Sometime though, you may have forgotten to log out of your email service. Once you use that service again, you are automatically logged in since you did not log out. This practice can be convenient sometimes, but it is very dangerous to your privacy and security.
The Risks of Not Logging Out
Though some websites automatically delete cookies of your session upon the closing of your browser, many do not. This can be a serious problem especially if you use a shared computer, like in a library, computer rental shop, or in the office.
A person with physical access to your computer can either open that website you forgot to log out of and access the data in it or simply copy the cookies stored there and decode them later. What if your email contains information such as your bank accounts, credit card number, or log-in details in other sites? That information is as good as gone. (These Banking Tips will surely help.)
Spyware or other malware can also remotely access those cookies and send that sensitive information to a cyber-criminal for fraudulent use. Cookies usually don’t use encryption so it is very easy to harvest information from them. (Tips on how to delete browser cookies.)
If you often don’t log out of websites because you are too busy or you tend to forget, then it is best to set your browser to automatically delete all of your cookies once you close it. It can be tedious to keep logging in every time, but at least you know you are safe from having your identity or other sensitive information stolen.