Security and Privacy

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

How can I get my Windows computer to update?

Episode 1458

Rene from Corona, CA
Blue screen of death

Rene is having trouble updating Windows. It stalls out at 80%. He then reboots and it goes back to before he tried updating. Then he gets a blue screen and he can't restore or update. Leo says that not an unusual problem. If you think about it, with millions of computers, there's going to be a certain percentage that will experience issues like this, and updating while a computer is running is nontrivial. It could be something is blocking it, like a third-party antivirus app. It could also just be a bad download. Or this could be the Intel Spectre/Meltdown fix that is causing problems.

Why isn't Malwarebytes working for me?

Episode 1458

Don from Culver City, CA
Malwarebytes

Don is having issues with Malwarebytes. Leo says that if he's experiencing issues with Malwarebytes, there's a good chance that he's been infected. The first thing a malware creator will do is disable online security software and prevent access to those sites in the browser. That's one of the reasons why Leo doesn't like third party antivirus apps. Leo recommends using Microsoft Security Essentials/Windows Defender.

Is there an Android app that could simplify the process of logging onto public Wi-Fi?

Episode 1457

Gary from Rancho Cucamonga, CA
LastPass on mobile

Leo says there's a new feature in Android Oreo 8.1 — it will let you know how fast a Wi-Fi access point is before joining it. Leo says any password vault should enter his password into the web portal when he signs in. Leo prefers using password vaults to any mechanism offered by the browser or phone itself. Password vaults will remember all of his passwords, and on Android, it will actually fill in the password automatically.

Jackpotting Attack Hits US ATMs

Episode 1458

ATM

There's a new attack that has been affecting ATMs around the world, and it's called "Jackpotting." It causes ATMs to dispense all of its cash. Hackers are using endoscopes to gain access to the interior of an ATM in order to connect to it and hack into the ATM's Windows XP operating system. Then, the once the malware is installed, a remote command is given to spew out 40 bills every 23 seconds.

Read more at krebsonsecurity.com.

How can I make myself an admin in Windows?

Episode 1457

Steve from Maryland
Windows - Change Account Type

Steve's Dell computer was for the family, but now he wants to just use it for himself. How can he convert his account to admin without losing his data? Leo says it's just a matter of going into his Windows 10 user settings Control Panel and select "administrator" for his account. He'll have to have admin access to do that, but that's how it works. He can get more information how to do this at windowscentral.com.

Do I really need an antivirus?

Episode 1457

Joe from Long Beach, CA
Windows Defender

Joe wants to know how effective antivirus software is. Leo says it can work, but it really does give users a false sense of security. Zero Day exploits can still nail people within 24 hours of discovery. They can also expose people to more flaws. That doesn't mean Joe shouldn't have one, though, but Leo recommends not buying anything third party. He should stick with Microsoft's own Defender that comes with Windows 10. Ultimately, though, his online behavior is his last, best line of defense.

How does Apple's two-factor authentication work?

Episode 1457

Ed from Clairemont, OK
Apple Two-Factor Authentication

Ed set up two-factor authentication on his Mac. But it when he logs into his Apple account, it sends the two-factor authentication code to his Mac. How can that be secure? Leo says it isn't. Apple's idea of two-factor authentication is kind of interesting. The argument is, if he has the password, and he controls the hardware the two-factor code is sent to, then there's a good chance that he is who he says he is. But it would be much better to send it to the smartphone.

Is my Mac infected with malware?

Episode 1457

Brad from Wells, NV
MacBook Pro

Brad accidentally downloaded some malware, but he can't find it to remove it. Leo says downloading a file is only half the equation. He then would have to run it. Since he can't find it, even in his download log, it's likely it was a failed download. On top of that, Brad runs a Mac, so he's even more secure than Windows. But he should always make sure he keeps his computer updated, just in case.

Kasperky AntiVirus Now owned by Russian Security Services

Episode 1457

Kasperky AntiVirus was caught in the middle of a battle between the company's owners, and the Russian Security Services government agency. The company lost and now the Russians are now in charge of the Kaspersky Security Network. Leo says that he hasn't recommended Kaspersky for awhile now and even the US Federal Government recommends not using it because of the potential for spying. But it's more than a potential espionage tool, as there's a hole in the Kaspersky Network that would allow an employee of the company, or a hacker to snoop into your system.