security and privacy

How does 2-factor authentication work?

Episode 1472

Taylor from Cincinnati, OH
LastPass

Taylor is talking about using LastPass and its 2-factor authentication. How does that work? Leo says that 2-factor can be a biometric thing, like his thumbprint, or it can be an authenticator which will text him a code to his phone that he would input into the prompt. It's secret and only good for about 30 seconds before he would have to input a new code. It's a great way to protect online data.

Is Amazon Echo always listening?

Episode 1457

Charmaine from Costa Mesa, CA
Amazon Echo

Charmaine wants to know if she can plug Amazon Echo into a surge protector. Leo says of course! Charmaine also worries that it's always listening. Leo says it is, but it doesn't actively listen unless she says one of four words: Amazon, Echo, Alexa, or Computer. It's only listening for those words. Once it hears the wake word, then it turns on the microphone and sends her request.

Why is my browser typing strange text?

Episode 1450

Jeff from Apple Valley, CA
Laptop keyboard

Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.

Does antivirus software keep PCs safe?

Episode 1450

Alan from West LA, CA
Antivirus symbol

Alan wants to know if an antivirus utility is any good anymore for malware. How about on a mobile device? Leo says that all too often, an antivirus leaves people more vulnerable because most malware is a zero day exploit. Antivirus can't stop users from themselves, either. All antivirus utilities have to hook themselves into the OS at a very low level and the virus can actually use that as a door to more exploits. So at the end of the day, an antivirus really is only of limited benefit.

How can I be safe using a Wi-Fi hotspot?

Episode 1430

Joe from New Jersey
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Joe wants to know about the Tiny Hardware Firewall. Leo says it's a clever solution for those who want to use open Wi-Fi hotspots safely. Tiny Hardware Firewall will give him an additional layer of protection by encrypting all of his Wi-Fi traffic with a virtual private network. Leo adds that it also adds another layer called the Black Hole Cloud service which gives users their own cloud server. This makes it lightning fast. The Tiny Hardware Firewall is about $35, plus a fee for their VPN, which could be about $100 a year.

How can I be private on the internet?

Episode 1408

Sherry from Canyon Lake, CA
Google Search Page on a MacBook Pro

Sherry is concerned because her personal information from public records show up in Google search results. Leo says that if it's public information, the only thing she can do is go to each site and demand they make her information private. But these days, it's easy to harvest that information from government sources online. And new sites pop up all the time. Privacy is really an illusion now. That's why celebrities usually create holding companies and make all their asset purchase through them, so that the paper trail is minimal.

Why is my browser typing strange text?

Episode 1398

Jeff from Apple Valley, CA
Keyboard

Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.

Does antivirus software keep PCs safe?

Episode 1389

Alan from Los Angeles, CA
Antivirus symbol

Alan wants to know if an antivirus utility is any good anymore for malware. How about on a mobile device? Leo says that all too often, an antivirus leaves people more vulnerable because most malware is a zero day exploit. Antivirus can't stop users from themselves, either. All antivirus utilities have to hook themselves into the OS at a very low level and the virus can actually use that as a door to more exploits. So at the end of the day, an antivirus really is only of limited benefit.