Security and Privacy

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

How can I stop getting malware?

Steven from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1404

Steven got a virus on his computer and it keeps coming back. The tech says they are getting into his computer through his IP address. Leo says that they don't know what they're talking about. He can't get it that way and if they're trying to sell him software to fix it, then he needs to find a new technician to repair his computer.

Leo suggests trying Geek Squad at Best Buy. They're a good place to start. At least it's a technician that's local, that he can visit. But at the end of the day though, his best defense is his online behavior.

How should I back up my data?

Episode 1400

Steve from Riverside, CA
Synology DS416 Slim

Steve is in the process of digitizing everything and backing it up. Now he needs to consider backup options. Leo says the first thing he should do is make sure his data is encrypted. Windows 10 Pro offers BitLocker, which uses full disk encryption that unencrypts when he logs into his Windows account. He should be careful not to lose his password or certificates. He should back those up and keep them in a safe place.

Petya is the Latest Ransomware Scam

Episode 1400

Petya is the latest ransomware hitting millions of computers around the world. Most infected computers are in the Ukraine, where "patient zero" is believed to be. From there it branched out to Russia, Poland, Italy and Germany. It takes advantage of the same flaws in Windows 10 that WannaCry did. Fortunately, it hasn't really hit the U.S. yet, but we'll see more infections as time goes on. Our CIA intelligence service discovered it and didn't say anything because it could use it to spy on others.

Why is my browser typing strange text?

Episode 1398

Jeff from Apple Valley, CA
Keyboard

Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.

Are Java updates safe?

George from California

Episode 1397

George wants to know if he should update his Java? Is it OK to update? Jason says that it's often OK to ignore them, but if it's an important security update, or if it's required for him to use a website, then it's a good idea to stay updated. It's definitely safer security wise to do so. But Jason also recommends getting rid of Java altogether. When in doubt, though, always go directly to Oracle to get updates. That way he'll know it's always official.

Will I be able to bring my laptop to Europe?

Episode 1395

Sara from Studio City, CA
Microsoft Excel on iOS

Sara is a painter and is traveling to Florence, Italy to showcase some of her art. She's worried she may not be able to bring her laptop back when she returns, though. Leo says that policy hasn't been decided yet on airlines from Europe. But it could, and if so, she'll have to check her laptop in her bag. Or she could ship it back. She will be able to return with it, just not in the main cabin.

Leo says if she has a tablet or iPhone, she could use that instead, and Excel runs quite well on iOS.