How can I protect a PDF file?

Adobe Acrobat icon

Episode 1300

Eric from Los Angeles, CA

Eric wants to be able to lock a PDF file so that nobody can modify it. Leo says that every PDF creator, including Adobe Acrobat, can protect it so it can't be modified. He can also also set the PDF so that the document cannot be forwarded to anyone else. If he trusts the person that he's sending it to, he can encrypt the PDF so it requires a password to open it. But understand that if they can open it, they can make an image of it and share it outside of that. So he'll need to trust the person he sends it to.

Is Let's Encrypt a good source for encryption online?

Episode 1284

Kevin from San Diego, CA

Kevin is interested in encryption so that nobody can snoop on his activity. Especially with Let's Encrypt, which Leo says will provide an encryption certificate for his website. It's free, too. To date, Let's Encrypt has provided over 2 1/2 million certificates for websites. And that's a good thing because offering an encrypted version of his website will boost his search engine rating.

Where is the certificate for an encrypted file?

Episode 1279

Yogi from Belmont Shores, CA

Yogi wants to know about file encryption. He encrypted a file and then wanted to take the key off and put it on a USB key, but he can't find it. Leo says that the certificate is the key. If he can find the certificate, he can copy it. If he were to copy the file without the certificate, no one would be able to get to that file. The idea is that he's encrypting the file so that it can't be opened by anyone who isn't himself, and the way he can prove his identity in this case is by logging into his system. Someone would have to have both his login and the password to access that file.

Microsoft Sues Feds Over Rampant Encroachment to Privacy

Microsoft campus

Episode 1279

Saying that the federal government has demanded personal data of their customers over 2500 times this year, Microsoft has sued the federal government demanding that the court rule on how the company must provide the information. According to the complaint, Microsoft is not allowed to tell their customers of the action, nor is there any expiration on the demands, effectively tying up the company forever. Microsoft is asking the court to rule and provide a level of transparency, and to act as a hedge against an overreaching government.

Is my phone's hotspot secure?

Episode 1275

Don from Greeley, CO

Don does a lot of online banking, but he's wondering if using the hotspot feature on his phone is safe. Leo says yes, it's encrypted. But he should remember to lock his computer with a password. If someone can get to his computer, then they can get his password. But his hotspot is encrypted.

Leo also recommends using a Virtual Private Network when he's on a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It burrows a tunnel through the internet that is secure and encrypts all of his activity.

Why doesn't the FBI just ask the NSA about that iPhone?

Episode 1274

Robert from Los Angeles, CA

Robert wants to know why the FBI just doesn't talk to the NSA about the data they want on the terrorist's phone. In reality, Apple's position is that the metadata from the carrier itself tells a lot of detail. But there may be a legal wall that would prohibit them from cooperating. The NSA just announced that they are helping, though. So that leads Leo to believe that there's another goal here. Their goal is to get the keys to the kingdom and force Apple to give them a backdoor to their phones.

What is a VPN?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1271

Dan from Newport Beach, CA

Dan wants to know about a VPN. Is it good for security? Leo says absolutely. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it's essentially an encrypted tunnel through the Internet where your data cannot be seen by anyone sniffing around. All anyone else would see is gobbelty-gook. It's great for security if you're at an open Wi-Fi network like a coffee shop. VPNs are really popular for work, where you're working from home but want access to your work server.