Security and Privacy

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

Is 2 Factor Authentication by SMS secure?

Smartphone and computer

Episode 1555

Carmine from Chicago, IL

Carmine has 2 factor authentication on most of his systems, but some use SMS, and he thinks that's not very secure. Leo says that there will always be a trade-off between security and convenience. But SMS is far easier to crack than independent authentication through an authenticator. Leo says to contact the cellphone company and have them put their additional layer of authentication on her phone.

How can I retrieve deleted data from a smartphone app?

iPhone 5

Episode 1554

Laurie from Burbank, CA

Laurie's father had a security camera that would send videos to his iPhone. They've since been deleted, and he recently passed away, but she wants to find a way to recover them. How can she do that? Leo says that if the videos were deleted off the phone's SD card, they can be recovered. But another option is to look and see if there's a cloud backup option. If there is, the app may have uploaded the video to the cloud. There is a company called Cellebrite that can take the data off the phone as well.

Glitter Bomb Vs Package Thief

Bomb

Episode 1551

Mark Rober, former NASA engineer, got fed up with package thieves and decided to do something about it. So he made a glitter bomb using an Apple HomePod box with a fake mailing label with the name 'Kevin McAllister' from the Home Alone movies. Inside the box, he had four smartphones with cameras that were recording, and an engine that spun with glitter. He also had aerosol cans with odor that would spray a nasty smell. The video of this with the reactions of the thieves has 45 million views on YouTube.

Top Tech Stories of 2018

Facebook

Episode 1552

1. Facebook had a terrible year, starting with leaked information to Cambridge Analytica of up to 87 million users. It lost 19% value, up to $100 billion, the biggest loss in the history of the stock market. Mark Zuckerberg lost $40 billion personally. And there was congressional investivations. All told, Facebook had 21 scandals centered around privacy violations. It was as bad a year as Facebook could get.

2. Apple lost 20% of its value. It went from being the first trillion dollar company to no longer holding that title.

Australia Passes Bill to Defeat Encryption

Security

Episode 1550

Australia has recently passed a bill that would require companies like Signal and 1Password to provide the government with user messages and data upon request. Many companies that offer encrypted communications, however, don't have access to that information themselves because it uses end-to-end encryption. But now that sort of encryption technology is illegal in Australia without a 'back door' being put in. If there is a back door, then access to that data isn't just available to the government, it could be available to any hacker as well.

How do I log into a Windows computer when the desktop isn't available?

Start Menu

Episode 1550

Josh from Mesa, AZ

John's mom recently passed away and had an old laptop. But when he turns it on, he gets an error "desktop not available." Leo says it's likely that the profile may have gotten corrupted, or is non-existent. Since she's been automatically logging in, that's where the error pops up. But there could be a hidden administrator account with permissions to take over all features. He can Google how to access that. Once he does, he should get the data out of it immediately. Then he should wipe the drive and start over.

Where is my external hard drive in Windows?

Western Digital 2TB Portable Drive

Episode 1548

Jim from Ordway, CO

Jim is having problems with Windows recognizing his external USB drive. But his image catalog says his images are there. Leo says that many photo gallery apps keep a thumbnail for fast referral. So it could have the thumbnail, but not see the original image, if the drive is disconnected or lost. Leo also says that his external drive could be getting flakey. He should get a backup drive and make a copy of his photos. He should save them online, too. Three copies, on two formats, with one off-site. The good news is that hard drives are cheap now. He can get a 1 TB drive for under $100.

Why is my printer printing out ads?

Episode 1547

Steve from Nashville, TN

Steve's printer is suddenly printing out ads. What the heck? Leo says there's a good chance he got nailed by either a browser hijack, or malware that has replaced his printer driver. He recommends using Malware Bytes, by only get it from the original creator. The chatroom says that there is a printer exploitation tool kit out there on the web. It could be that there's malware in the HP firmware as well.

Australia to Pass Anti-Encryption Law

Episode 1547

Parliament in Australia is pushing through an anti-encryption law that will make it not only illegal to use encrypted communications, but will also give law enforcement and other government authorities the power to use malware to crack an encrypted network. Leo says it will endanger the security of anyone using an online service and obvious violates an individual's privacy rights. Russia has a similar law, as does England.