Security and Privacy

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

Why can't I visit links I get in email?

Al from Chino, CA

Episode 1292

Al recently upgraded to Windows 10 and using Chrome, he's getting error messages preventing him to go to a site. Leo says to trust that. It's likely that the site has some malware code in it that will cause issues down the line. It could be a generic warning though. To be safe, do not click on any links, but hover over it to see what the REAL link is. You can spoof a link with HTML code. In fact, Leo suggests turning off HTML in your email client. Leo suggests also using Thunderbird. It gives you the option of text only.

Why does my system tray and an EXE file in it?

Nicki from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1291

Nicki saw an .exe file she didn't recognize in her system tray. Leo says that system trays hold icons of programs that are running and if you hover over them, you should get some information. But it could also be an error. It's causing security issues and Windows won't load her AVS. Leo says that Quicktime isn't being updated in Windows anymore so he recommends disabling launching in your browser. You can always play videos with VideoLan. It could also be an infection. So update your AVS or use Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool.

What should I do now that Apple has killed Quicktime for Windows?

Ian from Lakeview Terrace, CA

Episode 1289

Ian heard that Apple has stopped support for Quicktime for Windows. He's uninstalled it, but there are programs like Adobe Premiere and Hyper Studio that depend on it. Leo says that there may be an update through the programs that will support other options. If there isn't, there should be soon. In the meantime, Ian should make sure that his browser can't launch Quicktime. He can go into the settings and disable it.

Is it safe to be on the internet with Windows XP?

Anne from Orange County, CA

Episode 1285

Anne got an HP Envy wireless printer. Can she use it with an XP Machine? She keeps getting a popup asking for a driver update for something called "Slim Cleaner." Leo says that XP is a security issue because Microsoft has stopped supporting it. There are no fixes for it, and newer hardware won't work quite right with it because manufacturers don't expect people to use it with such old computers. Leo would not recommend banking on an XP machine. When she bought Slim Cleaner, someone actually took over her computer as well. So now there's no way to know exactly what they may have done.

Is my computer safe from hackers?

Kevin from California

Episode 1285

Kevin's mom went to a website and got a virus alert. She then called the phone number on it and they had her install something, which gave them control over her computer. Leo says that's a common scam. They probably installed a virus and maybe even turned her computer into a bot. The worst part is that they took her money and now have her credit card number. She realized her error and called him, though, and Kevin has since changed her passwords. She has trouble remembering passwords. Leo says many do and they end up using the same password over and over.

How can I crack the password on an old Windows Vista computer?

Joe from Thomasville, GA

Episode 1282

Joe's wife can't remember the login on her old Windows computer. Leo says that on older Windows Vista computers, security isn't as good as it is now. There used to be a hidden administrator account. Leo recommends trying "administrator" or "admin" with blank password. If that works, she can get in and create a new account to move her stuff over too. There are also programs that she can run that can crack the password. NT Crack is one. But to use it for college?

Is Webroot a good antivirus?

Rich from Placerville, CA

Episode 1282

Rich wants to know if Webroot is a good antivirus utility. Leo says that Webroot is good, and they're a sponsor. They offer additional protections because they're cloud based. But he really doesn't need it. Windows has its own antivirus called Defender that's quite good. Also, the state of malware is such that most occur as 'zero day exploits' which an antivirus can't catch. But Webroot will protect him for the most part. He should remember that his number one defense is his online behavior.