Security and Privacy

Malware, viruses, hacks, and anything else that may compromise your identity online, computer, or digital device.

Are there scammers on Wallapop?

Robert from Rolling Hills, CA

Episode 1259

Robert called in to address an issue with Wallapop, a website and app that allows people to buy and sell things locally. It's supposed to be an easier and more local version of Craigslist, but it isn't without its own set of issues. Robert noticed when trying to sell something on Wallapop that there were a significant amount of scammers using the service. He urges people to be careful and cautious when using this service -- especially since they bought a lot of Super Bowl ads and more people may be finding out about it.

How can I uninstall an unwanted program?

Walter from Huntington, WV

Episode 1257

Walter got an icon on his Windows machine called "Launch System Healer," and later found out it's malware. How can he get rid of it? Leo says that the problem with malware is that it can be very difficult to get rid of and even if he does, he may not get rid of all of it. But it's called a "PUP" or "potentially unwanted program." It should have an uninstaller, so Walter should look for that. Chances are, Walter accidentally installed it when installing something else that had its own custom installer.

How can I get rid of the Taplika virus?

Steve from Woodland Hills, CA

Episode 1250

Steve bought a Lenovo Windows 7 PC a few years back. He recently wound up getting the Taplika virus with non stop pop up ads in his browser. Leo says he'll need to install "VPlay" from Add/Remove programs and then remove Taplika from his browser. Technically it's not a virus, but a browser hijack and that should get rid of it. VPlay is a Windows service, and that is very insideous. It's going to make it harder to get rid of. He can find more information at malwaretips.com

Is encryption safe?

Kevin from Beaumont, CA

Episode 1246

Kevin is worried that the government is pushing to weaken encryption and that will make it far less secure. Leo agrees. He understands why the government is worried about encryption, but at the same time, weakening it helps nobody. Is it too easy to get encryption and use it? Leo says that's an interesting point. Especially since all mobile phone communications are encrypted now. Leo says that maybe the solution is that companies should hold the keys and have the power to decrypt if the law enforcement provides a warrant.

Has my personal information been stolen?

Walt from California

Episode 1246

Walt got a notification from the US Office of Personnel Management about his personal data being compromised. Leo says it's true. They were hacked and the personal data files of anyone who has worked for or applied for a job with the US Government may have had their personal information compromised. They should have also offered users a year of free credit and information monitoring to make up for it.

How secure is Tor?

Juan from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1243

Juan is looking to use Tor for encrypted security. Leo says that Tor was invented by the US Navy and it works by making your traffic obscure. Tor is used for anonymity, and it's a bit difficult to set up, but using a Tor browser makes it a lot easier. If Juan is concerned about privacy online, Tor is a good option to look into.

Why am I getting warning messages about Apple Keychain on my MacBook Pro?

Episode 1240

Bruce from Southern California
Apple Keychain

Bruce also has issues with the login keychain of his MacBook. Leo says that Keychain is great for secure storage, but people often forget their keychain password when they lock it. If he can't remember the password, he can always create a new keychain. Use the same password that he uses to log in. That should unlock it.

How can I protect myself on a public hotspot?

Doug from Alabama

Episode 1240

Doug does a lot of traveling on the road and he uses a open Wi-Fi hotspots a lot. He's worried about the security of using those hotspots, though. Leo says that using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good solution, as it burrows a secure tunnel through the hotspot so that all of his data is encrypted. He'd be totally safe and secure. The downside though it that using a VPN will slow him down a lot, and they are a challenge for some to set up. And the reality is, more and more of what he'll be doing online is encrypted anyway.

Can I get rid of malware by restoring my PC?

Scott from Ventura, CA

Episode 1239

Scott wants to know if doing a restore would get rid of any malware that may be on the system after its been compromised. Leo says yes, it will. Those popups are trying to get you to call them and install software. So if he didn't do that, he's probably OK. But if he did, not only will he need to get rid of the malware, but if they charged him, they will now have his credit card information. So he'll not only have to backup his data and erase the hard drive, he'll have to cancel that credit card as well.