Dan upgraded to OS X Catalina last week, and he's starting to get a warning that Google will be able to read, delete and compose email in his account. Leo says that isn't from Google. He suspects that Dan may have an extension installed in Safari that's causing that, or that it could be a standard European GDPR warning message. But even if he approves it, he can revoke the permissions in settings. But first, look at extensions. Safari-Preferences-Extensions.
Rich needs to monitor his son's text messages. Is there an app for that? Leo says that there are circumstances when this is critical. For Android, it's easy to do. But if he's tech-savvy, he can probably find out pretty easily that he is being monitored. Rich may want to check with the phone company and see if they can help. Ideally, if you can do it without an app on his phone, that would be a better idea. Check out Verizon's Smart Family: they have monitoring tools that may be of help.
Dan signed up for a VPN recently, and he can't use it with his banking, Netflix or other apps. Leo says that the bank is probably blocking it. VPNs can break IP-based authentication. BBC iPlayer, for instance, blocks VPNs, because you're not paying for the TV license fee. Netflix does it because it doesn't want another region to be watching content that isn't available for licensing reasons. Banking activity is encrypted, so you don't really need a VPN for it. Google has also been pushing for HTTPS encryption with every site, so if every site is encrypted, there's no real need for VPNs.
When sending private information online, it is best to avoid doing so through email as the email servers between your email provider and the other person's are not that secure. However if you need to send private information via email, Leo recommends zipping your file content and sending them the password to access the zipped content through another means such as phone via text message.
Other services that you can use to send such highly confidential information are FireFox Send or ShareFile!
The mobile app called FaceApp is causing concern with privacy advocates, and even members of Congress because people are concerned that their photos are being uploaded to servers in Russia. But the developer, who worked for Microsoft when he got the idea, assures that all photos are uploaded to Amazon cloud servers. The bigger concern is that the terms of service grant FaceApp the ownership of your likeness forever. Leo says, though, that it's just legal-speak that's written in the broadest possible terms.
Steven thinks that those surveys people take on Facebook profiles you to violate your privacy. Leo says that ALL of Facebook is profiling you, and the company sells that information. Facebook is designed to use your information for profit, and they got fined $5 Billion for doing it during the 2016 election.
Chris wants to know if he uses the professional version of Microsoft 365 at home, can his company see what he does? Leo says only if you use the corporate One Drive. Courts have upheld that if you use company resources, they have every right to look at your data without warning. So they can spy on you. So it's always best to keep your personal and business stuff separate. So it's wise to use a personal version of Office, just to be sure. Or go with Google Docs or an open source office like Libre Office.
Ken wants to know if he should make Cortana his personal assistant in Windows. Leo says no. It's more hassle than it's worth and Leo turns it off on all his Windows devices. It's really only worth turning on if the user actually uses it. But it's a huge privacy leak because Windows sends data to Microsoft to make Cortana more useful - LOTS of data. So Leo isn't a fan of that.
Mark needs to prove where he was to someone. Leo says that you can see where you've been by going to google.com/dashboard. Click on maps, then more, then timeline. If it's enabled in the application settings, you will see a history of where your phone has checked in within the network. It should go as far back as 18 months at least. If that isn't good enough, you could contact your carrier as they will have that information available. But that information is only available to law enforcement as they can get access to that information without a warrant. So using Google is your best bet.
Relying on a policy that no app can duplicate a function that Apple offers, Apple has removed 11 of 17 screentime and parental control apps. Some app makers have been shut down. OurPact, with 3 million downloads, was pulled, eliminating 80% of the developer's income. Kids Locks and Custodio have filed a complaint with the EU as a result. But Apple claims it's a privacy issue as the apps take too much personal information. Or are they just protecting their bread and butter? Leo says it depends on how you feel about it.