Security and Privacy

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

What do you think of the Tiny Hardware Firewall?

Episode 1334

Patrick from Long Beach, FL
Tiny Hardware Firewall keychain

Patrick heard Leo talking about Tiny Hardware Firewall in the past, and he also uses it. The idea of this is not unique to this company. It's actually created by HotSpotVPN. They buy inexpensive boxes and then put firmware in them that routes everything through their VPN. As part of a subscription to their VPN, or as part of the hardware purchase, you'll get this automatically. The downside is that the Tiny Hardware Firewall must use HotSpotVPN, and can't use a different service.

What's a good password vault?

Episode 1331

Kevin from Granada Hills, CA

Kevin is looking for a password vault or manager to store all his passwords. Leo says that the best password is long and strong, with random characters, letters, and punctuation symbols. But he'll never remember it. That's why Leo recommends LastPass, which can not only generate the passwords, but also can keep them safe. 1Password is another. This also creates a single point of failure, though. There's nothing wrong with having a notebook that he can write them down in.

Could a repair shop install monitoring software on my computer?

Wallace from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Episode 1325

Wallace took his computer into a repair shop, and now he's concerned that they could have put monitoring software on his computer. This is a legitimate concern, and often times it happens remotely with people calling that claim to be from Microsoft or something. If someone has physical access to the system, though, all bets are off. Taking a computer into a repair shop is an absolute act of trust. There's not much he could do about it, though, if he needed to bring it in. There's no certification process or national organization of computer techs, so he'd just have to trust them.

Can I monitor my employees internet activity?

Walter from Land O'Lakes, FL

Episode 1326

Fred's friend has a company and he wants to monitor his employee's online activity. Leo says that's doable and totally legal. Every employee needs to understand that if he's using company hardware anywhere, the company has the legal right to monitor his activity. It would be a good idea to advise them so they know ahead of time that it can happen. He should establish an appropriate use policy in the office at first. Fred should check out for documents and information.

How can I be secure online during a cruise?

Episode 1326

Jim from Colorado
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Jim is about to go on a river cruise and he's concerned with security when using Wi-Fi on the ship. Leo advises using the Tiny Hardware Firewall. It's a hardware firewall that can protect up to five devices because it uses a built in VPN that protects him. It will slow it down a bit, and the internet is slow on those cruise Wi-Fi hotspots, but it will keep him clean from the last mile.

Why are the graphics on my PC getting large right before it crashes?

Dave from Canyon Lake, CA

Episode 1326

Dave upgraded to a Windows 10 Acer PC and his graphics are too large. Then it crashes, causing him to have to reboot. Leo says that's a common video driver issue. Leo says Dave needs to make sure he has the latest drivers from Acer. What Dave needs to do is figure out which video card he has, whether it's a dedicated video card or an integrated video card. He should look in the Device Manager to see the list of hardware. Then once he has that information, he should go to the Acer website and download the drivers. It could be via video card or machine model number.

Could my external backup drive be infected by a virus?

Keith from Mountain View, CA

Episode 1325

Keith got bit by a computer virus and it corrupted the Master Boot Record. Leo says that's pretty scary because even if he wiped his hard drive and started over, the virus may still be there. Can the virus infect an external USB drive? Leo says no, unless he made it bootable. The irony is, we don't use Master Boot Records anymore -- they're a holdover from a bygone era. He'll want to be sure all his apps are up to date. Browsers, readers, Windows, the works. He can keep his antivirus updated too. Keith should still remember his best defense is his own online behavior.