privacy and security

How can I keep my data on my computer from being accessible online?

Episode 1265

Bob from Calabassas, CA

Bob wants to write a document that has personal information on it and he wants to keep it offline and inaccessible to the internet. Is there any way to keep it stored to the hard drive and not be available? Leo says security is hard and thinking you can try and keep your information 100% safe is a fool's errand. Leo can think of several options to foil any defense, even not having it at all. The reality is, he'll most likely be protected through obscurity. He would also be much better off using a security tool like encryption.

Apple Stands Up Against Court Order to Unlock Terrorist's iPhone

Episode 1263

The FBI, through a court order, has demanded that Apple unlock an iPhone which was used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino mass killings. Even though Apple has opened 70 iPhones for the FBI, they have never actually altered iOS to create what they believe would be a 'back door' to every single phone. A judge agreed with the FBI that Apple must comply, but Tim Cook has taken a public stance of resistance to the court order. Even more surprising, the FBI changed the password themselves already.

Can my employer monitor my online activity?

Episode 1217

Mike from Los Angeles, CA

Mike wants to know if his work can know where he goes on the internet with his company laptop. Leo says they probably have the right to, but it depends on whether or not they have tracking software on it or not. Even with a public Wi-Fi spot, they may be able to track his online behavior. Courts have upheld that as long as it's on company hardware as well. He probably had to sign an agreement of understanding regarding it.

What computer would be safest for online banking?

Episode 1194

Robert from Pittsburgh, PA

Robert wants to know if it's possible to get a virus with read only media. He wants a computer for online banking that can't be written to. Leo says that's an interesting idea. The ideal solution here would be a Chromebook. They're cheap, there are no viruses, and it comes with a power wash feature that brings it right back to the way it was when he first got it. Couple that with second factor authentication, and he'll be golden. He could also boot from the CD drive and that would prevent anything from being written to it.

Is Blackberry email encrypted?

Blackberry Passport

Episode 1139

Michele from Santa Monica, CA

Michele is contemplating getting a Blackberry because she thought it had the best encryption. Leo says that every smartphone can be encrypted. But the traffic coming out of the smartphone is another issue.

Encryption on the Blackberry runs through Blackberry's own servers. But even email can't really be encrypted unless she shares that encryption with the recipient.

Why can't I play video on my PC running Windows XP?

VLC

Episode 1059

John from Van Nuys, CA

John has a PC that runs Windows XP and he can't view videos that are sent to him through email. Leo says that it's likely a codec issue. He recommends downloading VLC Media Player. It can play pretty much anything. But the real problem is that after April 8th, Microsoft will stop supporting and updating Windows XP with security patches. So John's computer will be vulnerable to attacks. Leo says that's a cause for worry and John should take it off the Internet before April 8.

Why does GRC's Shields Up test keep failing?

Episode 1015

Francine from Gloster Township, NJ

Francine has been running Shields Up! from GRC and it keeps failing. She used to be "stealth" but lately she isn't. Leo says it's a router issue. Router makers decided to make routers easy to set up, but they ended up leaving everyone vulnerable, especially with instant UPnP connection. In fact, there's a new UPnP test on grc.com that Leo recommends everyone run to see if their routers are vulnerable.