malware

My gmail account has been hacked, how do I get it back?

Francine from Palos Verdes, CA

Episode 1128

Francine's Gmail got hacked and now she's hearing from people she hasn't talked to in years. She knows because she's been locked out of her account. Leo says that's the tell tale sign, as hackers will change the password in order to keep it. She ended up paying hundreds of dollars to get her email back. Leo says that Google will never charge to help get your email back and that's the danger of "googling" solutions. What Francine should have done is go directly to Google Support at support.google.com.

How can I get rid of a browser hijacker that came along with other software I installed?

Episode 1126

Brian from St. Louis, MO
Downloading

Brian wound up getting a browser hijacker. Leo says that's the risk of downloading software these days -- it often will come bundled with other unwanted programs. Typically, during the install, there will be checkboxes for other programs which should be unchecked. It's not technically considered malware, but they were likely obscure in how it was worded and it tricks users into installing these programs. Leo strongly advises against using third party download sites like CNET's Download.com because of this. Only download software from the original developer.

How can I reinstall Windows?

Stephanie from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1124

Stephanie bought a Samsung Windows 7 notebook and it's been a disasterous affair. She wishes she had bought a Mac. Leo says that Apple has a much better way to teach users how to use computers with their One to One teaching. She tried to get tech support with a phone number given to her from friends who used remote desktop and now she got infected. Can she wipe it and start over? Leo says sure, if she has a system recovery disc that came with the computer. She should get her data off first, then wipe the drive and reinstall Windows. And she should make sure she updates it completely.

Did a website crash my hard drive?

Sue from Redondo Beach, CA

Episode 1124

Sue went to a website to watch Bob Dylan live on stage and her computer got "fried." Leo says that there's no website that can short out a computer. And it's not in the interest of a hacker to be that destructive. They want vulnerable computers to exploit them. So it's important to keep the computer updated. She should also update Flash, her PDF reader, drivers, and just about everything can be exploited. Leo also recommends using Google Chrome, because it sandboxes Flash and updates it all the time. So she doesn't even have to install Flash on her system.

Has Adobe Reader given me a virus?

Kathy from Santa Cruz, CA

Episode 1115

Kathy downloaded an update for Adobe Reader and now she thinks she may have been bit by a virus. Leo says if Adobe Reader had an official update, she would really need to install it because it protects her from the viruses she fears. She was told to reset the browser and she lost all her booksmarks and extensions. Leo says that's actually what he would have advised because often it's extensions that cause the trouble. That's why Leo suggests using another browser like Google Chrome. Internet Explorer is a mess.

How can I stop seniors from falling for the Microsoft Support Scam?

Episode 1111

Bob from Apple Valley, CA
Scam

Bob has been seeing that the Microsoft scam is targeting seniors. Seniors are getting calls from "tech support" at Microsoft saying they're infected. Bob says that he tells all his clients that it's a scam, but they find it's very authoritative. Leo says that's why seniors are much better off with tablets instead of computers. Leo says that he believes the same technicians that actually handle tech support overseas are moonlighting making these calls.

How can I uninstall Search Donkey?

Peter from Tustin, CA

Episode 1095

Peter was looking for video codecs and he got bit by some malware called "Search Donkey." Leo says that even legitimate sites can get bit by malware. And places like CNet will install adware in their installer without really drawing attention to it. Leo says that the only difference between Malware and Adware is that Adware lets the user uninstall and technically gives an opt out on installation (if the user can find it).