Security and Privacy

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

Reaper Botnet Has Been Growing and we Don't Know What It's For

Episode 1440

Computer

There's a botnet called "Reaper" that has been growing at an alarming rate. It's a network of compromised devices, mostly routers, that is likely in the millions. We don't know who is doing this, or who's controlling it, and we can't stop them from doing it. It's sophisticated enough that it could be a nation and not just an individual. We still have no idea what it could be used for, either.

Read more at wired.com.

Why can't I remove Norton?

Dean from Thousand Oaks, CA

Episode 1441

Dean installed Norton but he's having trouble with it. Leo says that Windows 10 has Defender built in and it's probably running. Antivirus software won't work well when there's more than one antivirus installed. So Dean should remove the Norton one with the Norton Remove tool. If he has trouble using the removal tool, he should run in Safe Mode with Networking. That will prevent additional drivers from loading and should make it easier to remove it. He should also make sure he uses the right removal tool. Norton has several different ones depending on the utility it is.

Are YubiKeys accessible for the blind?

Episode 1433

Tom from New Hampshire
YubiKey

Tom wants to know where he can find a YubiKey, and whether or not it's accessible for the blind. Leo says they are accessible, and he can get it at yubico.com. This is a little USB device that plugs into a USB port, and the computer sees it as a keyboard. The YubiKey will light up, and then press the button on the key. Just make sure the cursor is in the correct field that it will need to fill, and it will fill in the password. This doesn't work for an iPhone, however, because it doesn't have a USB port.

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.

CCleaner Contained Malware for Months

Episode 1429

CCleaner

Avast/Piriform has confirmed that its popular CCleaner app has been infected with malware for the last several months and that users who have used it may have had their computer's compromised. Avast says they believe that they've fixed the problem and that no users have been harmed by the hack. But Leo says he worries about the term "we believe," and this is yet another reason why using these kinds of apps to protect yourself gives you a false sense of security.

Did an AVS take over my computer?

Episode 1421

Scott from Denver, CO
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Avast_Software_logo_2016.svg

Avast has installed something called "Grime Fighter" and it's taken over Scott's computer. What can he do? Leo says this is why he's not in favor of using third party antivirus software anymore. They give you a false sense of security and it can open up additional vulnerabilities. Leo suspects that Grime Fighter is not from Avast, but instead is pretending to be. At this point, the only thing you can really do is back up your data, format your hard drive, and reinstall Windows from a known good source. And if you must have an AVS, use Microsoft's own Windows Defender.