Security and Privacy

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

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.

How can I protect myself against phishing scams in email?

Cheryl from Alexandria, VA

Episode 1280

Cheryl wants to know if she can get infected by HTML email. Leo says yes. That's why she has to be careful what links she clicks on. But since she's using an iPad, she's protected. She can't get infected on that. Apple's iOS is very secure. But it's always a good idea to train herself not to click on links. If she gets an email from her bank for instance, she should just go to her browser and go directly to the bank's website.

Where is the certificate for an encrypted file?

Yogi from Belmont Shores, CA

Episode 1279

Yogi wants to know about file encryption. He encrypted a file and then wanted to take the key off and put it on a USB key, but he can't find it. Leo says that the certificate is the key. If he can find the certificate, he can copy it. If he were to copy the file without the certificate, no one would be able to get to that file. The idea is that he's encrypting the file so that it can't be opened by anyone who isn't himself, and the way he can prove his identity in this case is by logging into his system. Someone would have to have both his login and the password to access that file.

Can I delete my cookies?

Jay from Providence, NC

Episode 1278

Jay wants to get rid of cookies and prevent them from being saved on his computer. Leo says that cookies are supposed to be used to save data when visiting a website so that when he returns to it, he won't have to reload or relogin. Not only that, but it gives him ads based on his interests. He can turn off 3rd party cookies, though, if he wants.

How can I prevent ransomware infecting my backups?

Greg from Conifer, CO

Episode 1278

Greg wants to know if ransomware will infect and encrypt drives in multiple locations. He uses the Transporter to sync his data. Leo says it won't do that. It can't go over the internet to infect it. But if he's backing up encrypted files, those could get backed up replacing the other files. That's why versioning is so important. Carbonite has a great solution and a white paper on versioning.

(Disclaimer: Carbonite is a sponsor)

Are credit monitoring services worth the money?

Louis from Hollywood, CA

Episode 1277

Louis keeps getting emails from LifeLock, and he wants to know if the service is worth the price. Leo says that he's been a subscriber for ten years, and he got it to protect his kids. Leo's opinion is that they do a great job monitoring your credit to be sure nefarious activity doens't crop up, and when it does, they can help you fix it. It's not cheap, but Leo has never had any problem and has no plans to stop using it. But you can put a fraud alert on your own account which will warn you when someone tries to open up credit.