Security and Privacy

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

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.

Phones Can Legally be Seized at the Border

Episode 1394

TSA

When a story came out recently that a JPL Engineer was detained and his work phone seized, it caused Leo to do some research about your legal rights coming back into the country. Turns out that the 4th amendment's protection against unlawful search and seizure has been suspended when you're in "international waters," and that's what an airport technically is. So the Border Patrol and the TSA have the legal right to take your phone, computer and tablets and demand the password to access all your data.

Can I protect my Windows XP computer from WannaCry?

Episode 1393

Lynn from Thousand Oaks, CA
WannaCry

Image: SecureList / AO Kaspersky Lab

Mary has an old XP computer and she's worried about getting the WannaCry virus. Can she get a patch to protect herself? Leo says that Microsoft has ended life for Windows XP, but did make a patch for it and she can go into Updates and get it. But according to Leo, 98% of infected computers with WannaCry are Windows 7 computers. So XP isn't even on the radar. It doesn't hurt to be safe, though.

Should I use a VPN while on a cruise?

Episode 1391

Charles from Sugarland, TX
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Charles and his family are going on a cruise and want to know if his devices need to run through a VPN. Leo says there are some risks, but not as much on an iPad. Google has been pushing for https everywhere, meaning that his search activity is encrypted. But that's not stopping someone from using a Wi-Fi sniffer called a Pineapple or Wireshark to figure out what his access point name is. A wise thing to do would be to forget his home network before he goes. Another option is the Tiny Hardware Firewall.

WannaCry Ransomware Has a Possible Solution

Episode 1391

Encryption

WannaCry is ransomware that can lock up your data unless you pay the hacker who created it. WannaKiwi, however, finds the crypto key in your PCs RAM to undo the damage. It only seems to work about a third of the time, however. That's why Leo says to make sure you don't get it by altering your behavior, and by making sure you have current backups of your data should it happen. One thing you should never do is pay up, because you don't know if you'll get your data back, or if there's something even worse getting installed.

How do I use two factor authentication on iCloud?

Episode 1390

Eric from New Jersey
iCloud

Eric has heard that iCloud is going to require two factor authentication for third party apps. Is that true? Leo says it is, and it's a good idea. The problem is that not all apps have a two factor authentication scheme, so Apple has a work around by requiring an app specific password as well. Starting June 15th, if he doesn't have two factor enabled, he'll be forced to do it. From there, he'll have to re-login with a second unique one time password.

WannaCry Ransomware Mostly Affected Windows 7

Episode 1388

WannaCry

Last weekend, the WannaCry Ransomware bit several hundred thousand computer systems, including sixteen hospitals in the UK. The ransomware infected the systems and encrypted all data. The reason this one was really bad is that it was a "worm," or a "network aware virus" that would spread out over the local area network to find other computers to infect, and bring the whole establishment to its knees.

Does antivirus software keep PCs safe?

Episode 1389

Alan from Los Angeles, CA
Antivirus symbol

Alan wants to know if an antivirus utility is any good anymore for malware. How about on a mobile device? Leo says that all too often, an antivirus leaves people more vulnerable because most malware is a zero day exploit. Antivirus can't stop users from themselves, either. All antivirus utilities have to hook themselves into the OS at a very low level and the virus can actually use that as a door to more exploits. So at the end of the day, an antivirus really is only of limited benefit.