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Finances & Money General

Securing Your Email When Using Public Computers

Since we’ll be using public computers at internet cafes and hotels while overseas in Israel, I’ve been worried about someone using a keystroke logging tool to record my keystrokes, thus gaining access to anything I log into, such as my Gmail account. Since my personal and business email all filters into this one account, I have quite a bit of private, important and confidential information stored there. You can see read my article on 3 ways to use Gmail for your other email accounts to see how I use it for all my domains.

While I considered just not checking my email while abroad, it’s not possible as both Stacie and I are waiting for some important communications (can’t say what just now). Therefore, I had to think of a way to securely access my incoming email without compromising my password.

And then a brilliant (dare I say Clever) idea struck me:

Forwarding Gmail to Gmail

I have another Gmail account I never use, and it doesn’t have any important information inside, in case it’s compromised. My bright idea, which I’ve tested and confirmed, is to forward my main Gmail account to my second Gmail account. I then changed the password on the second account so that it is in no way related to any of my other passwords.

While other email providers may offer email forwarding, I’m most familiar, and impressed, with Gmail’s capabilities and interface, thus earning all of my repeat business.

To set forwarding in Gmail,

  1. Click Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP.
  2. At the top of that section will be “Fowarding”. Select the radio button to “Forward a copy of incoming mail to”
  3. Enter your second email address
  4. Select what you want to do with the email in your first account. I chose to leave it in my Inbox as I’ll just be scanning through the emails while in Israel. I’ll respond to important ones when I come back to the states. You can also automatically archive or delete them, if you wish.

While Gmail won’t forward spam, it will forward everything else. That means any rules you have set up to automatically filter and archive won’t be followed in your second account. For me, that means all my Freecycle emails and automatic website database backups will clog up my second account, unless I add another filter there. It’s just temporary, though, so I’m not worried.

And as another note, I’ll be forwarding Stacie’s email account to my second address too so that we don’t need to spend time (and thus money) logging out and in to multiple accounts.

So I hope this idea helps others in the same position. It may sound paranoid, but I don’t want ANYONE accessing my main accounts except me and Stacie, so I’ll bear the inconvenience of managing a second account for these 10 days.

About the author

Clever Dude

4 Comments

  • While I’m probably not paranoid enough to ever use this, I very much appreciate it’s cleverness. Kudos to you, for thinking up this scheme.

  • I should have been more cautious last time I went abroad — as near as I can tell, I wasn’t compromised, but I certainly wasn’t doing anything to really protect myself outside of changing my passwords when I got back.

    One additional strategy presents itself thanks to the new iPod Touches which have WiFi internet capability. It is not hard to run across a free wireless access point while traveling (and even easier if you are willing to pay a bit), and the ipod touch can handle gmail like a champ, giving you a very secure way of accessing your email abroad (plus, music to boot!). Might be worth the (modest) investment. Plus its a pretty impressive iPod.

    Enjoy your trip!

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