Security and Privacy

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

How can I bypass a hard drive lock?

Episode 1122

"Old Geek in the Bronx" from New York
Hard drive

"The Old Geek in the Bronx" has an issue with a computer repair that the Geek Squad did, where they password protected the hard drive preventing access to the system. The Geek Squad denies they did it! Leo says that searching for "cracking a locked hard drive" on Google, he can find some solutions. Dell says they can unlock a hard drive if he would ship it to them. Hard drive passwords are very secure and difficult to break. And he'll probably have to buy gold support from Dell to do it, but he can.

Does Facebook really have full access to my smartphone?

Mark from Anaheim, CA

Episode 1120

Leo says yes, this is true, but it isn't something to worry about. Both Apple and Android require that developers request permission to do things on the smartphone. Apps can request to have access to the phone dialer, texting, microphone and more. It does cause concerns among users primarily because they don't know why these apps are requesting such permissions. For example, in order to use Facebook Messenger to make a phone call or send out a text, the app needs access to the phone's operating system to do it. Otherwise the app won't have that functionality.

How can I recover my Windows Administrator Password?

Episode 1119

Laxman from Arizona
Password

Laxman uses Windows 7 as a limited user, but he can't remember his administrator password. How can he recover it? Leo says Lophtcrack was a utility that hackers use to crack the administrator password. But Symantec bought it and killed it.

There's also a utility by PogoStick.net, where he can download a LiveCD.ISO, burn it to a CD and then boot his computer. The utilty will remove the password and let him reset it.

How can I keep data secure on the iPhone?

Episode 1116

Adam from The Bronx, NY
Password

Adam has been keeping his bank information and passwords in the notes section of the iPhone, and he's wondering how secure that really is. Leo says that having different passwords for every account is a good thing and using a password manager is the best way to handle them. So take that next step and get LastPass. He should also turn on second factor authentication on every site that supports it.

Celebrity Nude Data Breach Underscores Need for Second Factor Authentication

Episode 1116

With the breaking news that several celebrities who had their cloud accounts hacked and nude photos published on the internet, Leo says that this underscores the need for second factor authentication. Companies use secret questions so that you can answer them and get your password or reset it. But Leo says that people make the mistake of answering these questions truthfully. And for a celebrities, that's very easy to discover. Leo uses pneumonics and puts in bogus answers that only he knows and nobody can guess.

How can I backup my Android Phone like iCloud?

Episode 1116

Jonathan from Hollywood, CA
Samsung Galaxy S5

Jonathan just picked up a Samsung Galaxy S5. He wants to know if Android has a backup option similar to iCloud. Leo says there's no way to backup everything, but Android will backup apps and settings, which include Wi-Fi Passwords, to his Google account. That way when he logs into his Google account with a new phone, it'll restore his apps and settings automatically.

What are the first things I should do after buying a MacBook Pro to protect my data?

Jeff from Raleigh, NC

Episode 1115

Leo says since most MacBook Pros come with SSDs now, it's important to turn on drive encryption right away. If he doesn't encrypt the drive from day one, some data could end up unencrypted on that drive. Turn on encryption before putting private data on it. The Mac comes with something called File Vault for encryption, which he can access right from the Mac's System Preferences. He just has to turn it on, and he won't even know it's running. The only reason to do this is in the event that his computer was stolen.