encryption

How can I encrypt my email?

GPG Tools

Episode 1639

Charles from Virginia Beach, VA

Charles wants to encrypt his email communications. How can he do that? Leo says that your email can go through dozens of servers before getting to the person you addressed it to. And everyone along the way can read it unless it's encrypted. It's more like a postcard, but without federal privacy protection. PGP (Pretty Good Protection) uses public-key cryptography, which has two different keys. One public, and one private. Only you can encrypt with the private key, while the public key is used to verify and open the email. You can give the public key to anyone.

What is a VPN and do I need to use it?

VPN

Episode 1621

Rene from Vancouver, British Columbia

Rene wants to know if she can use a VPN to keep herself safe and still log into sites like Facebook. Leo says that a VPN is an encrypted tunnel for your traffic that masks your data as you use it. You should be able to still log in, but some sites don't support it. How about using an airport WiFi with a VPN. Leo says that's a very good place to use a VPN, but he generally doesn't use public wifi, especially in an airport. And you NEVER want to do banking or eCommerce on one.

Is Bitlocker Safe?

Bitlocker

Episode 1616

Mary from Lisbon, North Dakota

Mary recently installed an SSD into her computer, as well as Bitlocker. Now she's getting a blue screen of death. So she started over, without Bitlocker, and got a BSOD again. Sandisk told her to update her laptop BIOS, and that worked. But Sandisk also said not to put encryption on an SSD. Leo says he encrypts every SSD drive. His phone is encrypted and they are SSDs. In fact, Windows Pro has Bitlocker built-in! And some turn on Bitlocker at the factory. So Mary is fine to use it, as long as she doesn't lose her password. 

How Can I Crack an Old Floppy Password?

floppies

Episode 1614

Mike from Riverside, CA

Mike resurrected an old computer to look through some old floppies, but they're password protected and he can't remember the password. Leo says that if Mike can figure out how he password protected it, that could give him a clue. But floppy disks weren't normally password protected. So it's an odd thing for a password pop up to happen. It may be possible to examine the disk using a Linux computer. That could lead to being able to read it. But not for very much longer, as Linux will not support floppies moving forward.

Why Can't I Encrypt My New Hard Drive Like My Old One?

 T1

Episode 1614

Nancy from Largo, FL

Nancy has T1 drive encryption on her Samsung 1TB hard drive, but she can't see it on her laptop. Leo says she has to install special drivers that will modify the OS to encrypt the hard drive. But Leo doesn't like a third party having that kind of control. Since she had it on her old hard drive, she is aware and still has the password. So she'll have to re-download the software from Samsung. She can get it here

How Safe is Public WiFi?

Firewall

Episode 1592

Mark from Los Angeles, CA

Mark hears that Public Wifi may not be safe. Is that true? Leo says yes and no. When we're on a public network, people can see our connection. We can see other people's computers in our browser. We may not be able to see everything, but a hacker can use what's called a "WiFi pineapple." So there is a potential risk. But with a secure connection via HTTPS, they can't really see anything. That's why Google is pushing hard for every website to be https. That's why it's Leo's opinion that we're mostly safe. When in doubt, just use a virtual private network while on a public wifi.

Is public wifi at a hospital safe?

Netgear AC1200 Dual Band WiFi Router

Episode 1589

Gordon from Long Island, California

Gordon is in the hospital, and wants to know if their public wifi is safe or should he use a VPN? Leo says that if it's using a wide-open network, then anyone can log in. It's a shared, public network. There are some risks, but your banking is safe because it's encrypted. The one thing to worry about is a "man in the middle" attack. Hospitals with public wifis could give the hospital the ability to watch what you do. That's when a VPN can come in handy. It will encrypt all traffic, by burrowing an encrypted tunnel to the internet. 

Why can't I encrypt my backup before going to Carbonite?

Carbonite

Episode 1587

Bobby from Long Beach, CA

Bobby encrypted his backup, and he uploaded it to Carbonite. But he couldn't because it was encrypted. He used Mac's FileVault. Leo says that encrypting is a good idea, but after you've uploaded it, it's encrypted, so it's redundant, actually. The thinking is that if you encrypt it, and need one file, you'd have to download the entire backup in order to get it.  But Leo says that if you're logged in, then it's unencrypted through the Mac. Carbonite needs an unencrypted backup in order to do incremental backups. And in doing so, they keep your data encrypted on their end.  

Is backing up to the cloud secure?

VeraCrypt

Episode 1569

Jose from Modesto, CA

The caller wants to know if backing up data to DropBox is secure? He's worried that backup companies have access to his sensitive data. Leo says he can encrypt the data, and he alone has the keys to that. So if he loses it, he's out of luck. DropBox will accept secure encrypted data. If he's looking for a cloud-based encryption backup option, SpiderOak is an option, though it's a bit clunky. VeraCrypt is another.