Security and Privacy

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

How can I protect myself from identity theft?

Peter from Dana Point.CA

Episode 1188

Peter had his credit cards stolen. Leo says it's a very common thing. The good news is that in the US, the banks take all the liability, and this Fall, a new credit card will come out with chips and PIN numbers to guard against theft. Another option is to sign up for one time use credit card numbers, or numbers that can be used with just one merchant.

How do I protect my computer from malware?

Jim from Houston, TX

Episode 1188

Jim has been watching some of Leo's podcasts and is concerned with security on his PC. What antivirus software should he use on Windows 8.1? Leo says that Microsoft ships Windows Defender for free and that's all he needs. But he should remember that an antivirus is only as good as his own behavior. What about MalwareBytes? Leo says that while Malware Bytes is effective, he can actually do more harm than good if he doesn't know what he's doing. And if his computer has been infected, he will have no idea if he actually removed all of it or not.

Why can't I get back online after removing malware?

Ed from Philadelphia, PA

Episode 1186

Ed has discovered malware on his computer so he took it off and now he can't get on the internet. Leo says that Malware comes through any browser and when you get malware, or in this case adware, removing it can be problematic. Installers will attach the malware or adware to a critical system file and then when you remove it, you also remove the critical files for your system.

Will LastPass protect me from a hacked router?

John from Biddeford, ME

Episode 1186

John's router from the ISP is very easy to get into, and there's no way to change the password. Will LastPass protect him from a brute force attack? Leo says LastPass will only help him if he's able to change the password on the router. Then he could use LastPass to generate a secure password and store it for him. Leo says if he can turn off WLAN Administration, then he should at least do that. Even if an outsider were to log into his router, they only could really change the settings. But this still isn't a great solution.

Has my bank account been hacked by a popup?

Diane from Encino, CA

Episode 1185

Diane got a popup that said she had a virus. She knew it was a scam and closed out her Safari browser and turned off her computer. Then she got a bank notice that her account was compromised. Are those occurrences related? Leo says probably not. Just because a popup tells her she's infected, it doesn't mean she is. The popup was designed to get her to call someone so they can socially engineer her to install something. The bank notice probably was the result of someone who she gave her card to at a restaurant copying her information. Her Mac is safe.

Why did Mint alert me of a low balance 2 weeks late?

Bennie from Pasadena, CA

Episode 1182

Mint is a website and app that was bought by Intuit, the makers of the popular Quicken program. Instead of having to enter in every transaction manually, Mint can automatically categorize your transactions and show account information. It's secure and safe, but sometimes Mint's notifications are late. Bennie doesn't have to worry though, Mint is secure.

How can I unencrypt CryptoWall Ransomware files?

Chris from Huntington Beach, CA

Episode 1177

Chris has a Dell laptop that got hit by the CyptoWall Ransom Ware. He was able to use ShareExplorer to recover some of his files, but he lost a lot of them because he refused to pay the ransom. So he has a bunch of files that are encrypted. Can he use something to unencrypt it? Leo says no. CryptoWall uses strong encryption and there would be no guarantee it could be fixed. This is why he should backup all of his data. Sometimes, an uneraser can recover data since CryptoWall erased the original and encrypted a copy. But outside of that, he's out of luck.

GitHub Targeted in DDoS Attacks From China

Episode 1174

Hacker

Last week, Chinese hackers targeted GreatFire.org in a DDoS attack, and now are attacking GitHub. DDoS stands for "Distributed Denial of Service," and this attack brings down a website by hitting it with lots of bogus requests from thousands or even tens of thousands of computers distributed all over the world. GreatFire.org was spending $30,000 a day in bandwidth trying to keep up with the excess traffic.

The way they are getting this to be a distributed attack is by commandeering users of Baidu, a popular search engine in China.