University of Wisconsin–Madison

Prevent unauthorized use

Don’t expose yourself, or your data, to risk. Leaving your computer unattended or neglecting to fully log out at public computers gives others the ability to install a virus, steal information, or impersonate you online.

Here are several steps you can take to protect yourself:

1. Require a password when returning from a screen saver

To do this in Windows:

  1. Right click on a blank part of the Windows Desktop and click Properties.
  2. Click on the Screen Saver tab.
  3. Choose a screen saver that you would like to use.
  4. In the Wait box, type the amount of time that you want to wait before the screen saver activates. Five to 15 minutes is a typical period of time.
  5. Check the box next to “On resume, password protect.”

To require a password to return from a screen saver in a Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple Menu and select System Preferences.
  2. Select Security and place a check next to “Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen save.”
  3. Click on Show All and click on Desktop & Screen Saver.
  4. Choose a screen saver from the right column.
  5. Set the Start screen saver: slider bar to somewhere between five and 15 minutes.

2. Lock your workstation

To do this in Windows XP, simply hold down the “Windows” key (located between the Control and Alt keys) and press the letter “L”.

To do this under Mac OS 10.4 or 10.5:

  1. From your Applications folder, open your Utilities folder and then open Keychain Access.
  2. From the Keychain Access menu, select Preferences. Under the General tab, check the box next to Show Status in Menu Bar.
  3. The padlock icon will appear in your menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen. To lock your screen, click this icon, and from the menu that appears, select Lock Screen.

3. Log out and exit, close or quit your browser when you’re done using an application

Depending on your platform and browser, the terminology and process is slightly different. Closing the browser typically deletes information needed to continue using current login information, forcing a new login. This is especially important when using shared computers (e.g., campus kiosks, lab machines).