Do You Need a Windows Password?
By Leo Notenboom
The Question:I have nothing on my machine that is personal, revealing, or that I would be particularly concerned for anyone else knowing. Is there a valid, serious reason to use a password? My machine is live and open to the internet 24/7. Am I putting myself or my data in any jeopardy?
There are two issues that factor into this.
One: how likely it is that someone will access your machine in a way that a password would have stopped them.
Two: how much personal information is really on the machine, and whether you’d care if it were stolen or made public.
Only one of those two is really under your control, and even then, only if you’ve really thought it through.
There’s more on your machine than you think
I believe that if you took a close inventory of everything on your machine – everything from your browsing history to the emails you send and receive to the programs you run to the documents you open and the pictures you view – you’d be surprised at how much information about you is on your machine.
Think about it.
It’s possible that remnants of everything you’ve ever used that computer for are present and available to someone who knows where to look.
I’m not talking about malicious software, I’m just talking the information that accumulates or remains when using the computer normally. Things like deleted files, document and web history, the browser cache, and system and software logs are all potential sources of information that may be present on your computer as a side effect of simple, everyday use.
And then, of course, there are your files: everything from emails to documents to photographs to whatever else you have there.
I’m guessing that there’s something on your computer that would make you at least uncomfortable if made public or stolen.
This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.
About Leo Notenboom
Leo A. Notenboom is the owner of Puget Sound Software, LLC and the Leo in Ask Leo!. Leo has been in the personal computer and software industry since 1979, as a software engineer, a manager of software engineers, and as a consultant. In 1983 Leo joined what was then a medium sized local company called Microsoft and spent the next 18 years in a wide variety of groups working on a wide variety of software. If you're running Microsoft Windows, if you've used a Microsoft development tool or Microsoft Money, or if you've ever purchased a ticket through Expedia, there's a good chance you've been touched by some of his work. And of course, since 2003, Leo has been answering your tech questions on Ask Leo!