Security and Privacy

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

Marriott Starwood Data Breach Affects 500 Million Users

Wallet

Episode 1545

Marriott just announced this week that it learned of a security breach from four years ago, and 500 million users are affected. For 327 million guests, the exposed information include names, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and arrival and departure information. For millions of others, credit card numbers and expiration dates were compromised. Marriott says it will begin emailing guests affected by the breach.

A Popular Microsoft Scam Has Been Traced Back to India

Computer mouse

Episode 1545

For a long time, scammers have been calling or displaying a popup message on PCs with the threat that their computer access will be restricted if they don't call a number and make a payment. According to the New York Times, this official looking message is coming from a scam operation in Mumbai, India - which is the main hub for call centers. Leo says that's because the real tech support people are moonlighting with this scam.

Why can't I use Java in my browser?

URL

Episode 1543

Doug from Beaumont, CA

Doug likes to visit the Aviation Weather Service online, but he's been having trouble with it lately. Leo says that's because it uses Java and the Java browser plugin has probably been disabled. Doug should go into his browser settings and be sure it's installed, updated, and enabled. But it's getting harder to use Java in the browser. If he has Firefox version 52 or higher, or Chrome 42 or higher, or even Safari, the plugin would have been disabled for security reasons. So his only choice may be to use Internet Explorer for that site. He'll have to turn on scripting for Java apps.

How can I prevent Google from knowing everything about me?

Google

Episode 1541

Derek from Costa Mesa, CA

Derek has to create a Google account, but he wants to prevent Google from having his information. He tried to use an app to mask his phone, but it won't work. Can he use a burner phone? Leo says that he'll have to jump through a lot of hoops to prevent it, but it can be done. A burner phone will work. Then he can create a Google Voice number to use with that. Or he can just put the burner into his car for emergencies. But every time he searches, Google will know what he searched for, even when he's using a private window. The reality is, his phone carrier and ISP will know everything.

Why are my browsers crashing?

Microsoft Edge Browser

Episode 1541

Steve from Redondo Beach, CA

Steve is having trouble with Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. After about 2 minutes, both apps crash. Leo says that it could be malware infecting his browsers. But more likely there's a render driver that both browsers use which is causing the crash when he visits certain websites. Leo recommends doing a thorough scan using Windows Defender, and he should also run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool from the command line. To get to that, he can press the Windows Key and type MRT. Leo also suspects that Java is broken.