Security and Privacy

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

Do I need antivirus software?

Episode 1498

Al from Vista, CA
Windows Defender

Al's antivirus software is up for renewal. Does he really have to pay for another year? Leo says no. Windows has its own antivirus called Windows Defender, and it's free. It does a really good job. There's also a possibility that third party antivirus software could make him more vulnerable to hackers, not less. Al will need to download their standalone uninstaller to get rid of that third party app. Then enable Windows Defender and keep it up to date. But he should remember, no antivirus can protect him from himself.

Am I safe from the VPN Filter hack?

Episode 1497

Neil from Phoenix, AZ
Asus AC3200 Router

Neil is worried that the VPN Filter hack will affect his Asus router because his model isn't protected. Should he be worried? Leo says first thing he can do is update his firmware. Asus keeps their firmware up to date regularly and uses open source DD-WRT firmware. So if there isn't one, he can patch it himself. But Asus routers are great because they update them constantly. Neil should reload the most current firmware, even if he has already updated it. That will wipe out any additional problems.

How can I be secure on public Wi-Fi?

Episode 1496

Jose from Ontario, CA
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Jose is concerned about being snooped on when using public Wi-Fi. What can he do to protect himself? Leo says the first thing to do is turn on hard drive encryption. That will keep his data safe should his laptop get stolen. But for just being on a public Wi-Fi, VPNs can be beneficial. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network," and all of the traffic that goes through it is encrypted. It's like a secure tunnel through the internet. Most web pages are encrypted now, though, so no one could see his activity on those sites anyway.

Why can't I see images in Outlook?

Episode 1495

Ron from Charlotte, NC
Outlook Email

Ron has messed up his Outlook. Now he can't see any images in the body of the email, and it won't download any graphics. Leo says that's a good thing! Outlook disables downloading jpgs by default because they can be hacked to include malware. That's called HTML email and it's a bad idea. So he'd have to opt-in to enable it, but Leo wouldn't. Plain text emails are always best. But if he really wants to, he can go into the Trust Center and change the settings.

Do I need the LastPass app to use it on my phone?

Episode 1492

Manny from Vero Beach, FL
LastPass

Should he use LastPass on his phone? Does he need the app? Leo says that the app is just a convenience, but it's not really necessary. Android will autofill apps with LastPass, iOS not so much.

Manny also wants to know if Sonos will adopt Dolby Atmos at Home as a standard. Leo says they haven't. Atmos has that upward firing speaker design for the home, but so far, Sonos hasn't adopted it.

(Disclaimer: LastPass is a sponsor)

How can I securely wipe a computer hard drive?

Episode 1490

Julie from Valencia, CA
Hard drive

Julie recently lost her job after 25 years, and now she has to return the laptop she used. She needs to wipe it first, though. Leo says that laptop is company property and everything on it belongs to them, even if she has personal things saved on it. There is no way they can prevent her from doing it, but Leo advises talking to an attorney before she does.

Is my DNA safe with testing companies?

Episode 1490

Steven from San Antonio, TX
DNA

Steven wants to know if doing DNA analysis is safe and secure. How does he make sure that information is protected? Leo says that's a good question, and people do have the right to have their information protected. 23andMe, for instance, has a privacy policy that users must agree to, and they are very committed to keeping it secure.

(Disclaimer: 23andMe is a sponsor)