encryption

How can I securely wipe my hard drive?

Episode 1510

Andrew from Los Angeles, CA
Hard drive

Andrew misses FDisk in MSDOS. He liked typing from the command line. Leo says that FDisk still exists in Windows, and when he deletes a partition with it, the data isn't lost, it just loses the structure of partition information. If he wants to erase all the data, Leo recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It erases the data, overwrites the hard drive, erases it and overwrites it again. Seven times. So there's no way the data can be recovered.

Why does my cursor jump around?

Episode 1509

Dan from Yankee Town, FL
Apple MacBook Pro

Dan is having an issue where on his MacBook the cursor jumps while he's typing. He can't even write an email. It'll even start a command. Leo suspects it's a problem with the trackpad. He should try cleaning it first. Sometimes "schmutz" can cause phantom touches. The palm rejection software in the OS may have been disabled. The worst case scenario is that the trackpad is failing. Since the laptop is about a year old, he could take it into the Apple Store and have them take a look at it.

Why do I have to reauthorize my Synology backup with Time Machine?

Episode 1508

Tim from Franklin, OH
Synology DiskStation DS216

Tim uses Time Machine for his backup, but the backup fails intermittently. His Synology NAS is citing improper credentials as the cause. Leo says that encryption certificates need to be renewed from time to time, and if he's encrypting his data on backup, that could be the issue.

There is a post on Synology forums about this: Time Machine, Making it Work. Learn from my Suffering. There are some steps that can help.

How safe is the password protection on my computer?

Episode 1501

Robert from Southern California
Windows 10

Robert is concerned with password security. How secure is his Windows login? Does it have to be really crazy difficult? Leo says that it's safe enough for his own use. Networks are protected by the router, which has a separate password. The more unique, the better. But his Windows password is fine unless someone gets physical access to the computer. Leo prefers to use a password manager, though. It's secure everywhere. What about a browser password vault? Leo says that all browsers now use encryption, so they're safe. But he should have 2 factor authentication setup just in case.

How can I be secure on public Wi-Fi?

Episode 1496

Jose from Ontario, CA
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Jose is concerned about being snooped on when using public Wi-Fi. What can he do to protect himself? Leo says the first thing to do is turn on hard drive encryption. That will keep his data safe should his laptop get stolen. But for just being on a public Wi-Fi, VPNs can be beneficial. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network," and all of the traffic that goes through it is encrypted. It's like a secure tunnel through the internet. Most web pages are encrypted now, though, so no one could see his activity on those sites anyway.

Why can't my new computer see the data on my old hard drive?

Episode 1495

Bonnie from Costa Mesa, CA
Western Digital MyPassport

Bonnie bought a new computer and plugged in her external hard drive. She can see the data on her old computer, but she can't read it on her new computer. Leo has a hunch that her WD Passport runs a proprietary utility that encrypts her data to protect it. She probably will need to install that same software on the new computer in order to see the data.

Twitter Error Results in Passwords Being Stored in Plain Text

Episode 1486

Twitter login

Twitter sent an email to its 330 million users recommending that they change their passwords. This is because of an error that caused user passwords to be stored unencrypted and in plain text. While this was a big flaw, Twitter is being praised for disclosing the information immediately so users can take action to protect their accounts.

Read more at Reuters.com.

How can I encrypt and anonymize my web use?

Episode 1485

Jim from Indianapolis, IN
Anonymous

Jim called in to talk about how the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring not only the free press, but also bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers. Jim wonders if he should use a VPN as a hedge against that. Leo says that while anonymizing his content is a natural reaction, and while a VPN could be a useful tool, but it's not a privacy tool. In fact, encrypting his traffic shines a light on him more than just being a part of the "background noise." Also, a VPN only encrypts the traffic along the way.

How can I securely erase an SSD?

Episode 1476

David from Hollywood, CA
Hard drives

Dan's computer was damaged and Acer is going to replace it, but he's worried about the data on it. How can he wipe the data? Leo says that there's a program called DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke that can wipe the drive pretty thoroughly. But Dan should understand that an SSD doesn't format the way a spinning hard drive does, and there can and will be some data leak, where someone could grab the data if they're really motivated.

Are encryption services really secure?

Episode 1467

Gary from Cheektowaga, NY
Encryption

Gary is an attorney and has heard of a business product called LockBin that promises to encrypt his data. Is it legit? Leo says that there are limits of privacy with an encryption service. If the service can give him his password, then it has access to all his data and it's not really reliable. If they can't give him the password because only he knows it, then he's in good shape. The downside, though, is that if he forgets it, he's out of luck.