Some of the best things in life are still free. Titanic web-based mails like gmail.com and yahoo mail are still free; multi-tasking networking sites such as myspace.com and multiply.com; freeware which include instant messaging programs like YM (Yahoo Messenger) and AOL; and access to most websites and forums. The only catch is to enjoy all the features of a certain program or access all of the information available on the site you have to create a user account.
A user account will entail a username and a password. Depending on the nature of the site or program, the personal information demanded to create a user account varies. Once a user account has been created successfully, the user gains the golden key to start posting pictures and testimonials on myspace.com.
To access the site or program, one would have to sign-in; to end the session, one would have to sign-off or log-off. Some people do not place a high priority on logging-off; it could be due to forgetfulness, lack of time, stubbornness or a simple case of Internet newbie neglect. Whatever the reason, logging off is not fatal – if you are not using a public or workplace computer. Certain sites and programs automatically log-off or lockout the current user if the account has been idle for a certain number of minutes or hours.
The gravest consequence of failing to log-off is identity theft. Other people can easily assume your identity and start sending spam mail and obscene messages to your co-workers, your boss, or your friends and family. Things can take a nasty turn if they use your account to perpetrate a scam, send viruses or worms to crash your office or server’s network, or even empty your bank accounts.
Even if you can eventually prove your innocence, to go through the nightmare of proving your lack of culpability in the eyes of law enforcers, your colleagues and loved-ones can be traumatic and time consuming. Not to mention that single incident of breach of trust can cost your job or your relationship not because you did something wrong, but because you did not do the right thing – you were negligent.
Logging off is a lot simpler than logging-in; all you have to do is click the sign-out or log-out/log-off button at the end of a session. Once the message appears that you have successfully signed out, that is it. You can even take things a step further by clicking the option of sign another user just to make sure that your username or account name is not in view anymore. The best practice is to delete the cache of the browser to make sure there are no traces of the accounts you used. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; it may sound cliché but it is a philosophy you might want to hold above everything else when it comes to managing your online accounts.
--- Maddie Wesson, 2006