As we just saw in the "How safe is the Hotmail Sign in remember me option?" tutorial, Windows Live Hotmail can automatically remember your user name (the Windows Live ID, or email address you supply when you login). But, as you may already know, Hotmail can also remember your password: this means that when both checkboxes are checked, Hotmail will in effect automatically sign in to your emails and bypass the login form altogether. So, the question is: when should you make Hotmail remember your password?
Security implications of the convenient Hotmail "Remember Me" options
The appeal of making Hotmail automatically remember your Windows Live ID (email address) and password is convenience - this is a great time saver, especially if you check your emails several times a day, because the alternative would be to manually login every time! To make things easy, here are cases where you should never allow Windows Live Hotmail to remember your profile information / credentials:
- First, if you sign in to Hotmail from a public computer; because if Hotmail logs you in without going through the sign in form, this will be the case for anyone who uses that computer and browser after you. (Windows Live remembers your information for a particular web browser on that computer, not on all browsers on the same machine: this is because it stores this information inside a cookie, which only the current browser can read.)
- Second, if you are sharing a PC or Mac with other people (like on a family computer, or with roommates), the same applies, but with one exception: if you all have your own profile on that computer, you can safely ask Hotmail to remember your credentials. If you login to that same computer under a different user account, that user will not have access to your profile's "cookies", and therefore not be able to access your Hotmail account.
- Third is the case of a work computer that only you use: this is like your computer, except that someone in your workplace / office may be able to seat at your desk, and voluntarily or accidentally see your emails if you left them in an open browser window. So, from work, it is OK to make Hotmail remember your email address and password, as long as you remember to lock your computer when you walk away from it (either lunch, or for a short break).
Tip: These three typical scenarios require your common sense as well, since it depends on the amount of trust you have in people living with you and/or your colleagues. The only iron clad rule is never to use the convenience of the Hotmail remember-me options from a computer that is routinely accessed by others!
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