Marie wants to know an alternative to Gmail. Leo stopped using Gmail because of their invasive ads, but the other side of the coin is that Gmail has the best spam filters of all. Leo moved to FastMail, so Marie can use Gmail to initially filter her emails, and then forward the rest to FastMail. Then she can run the secondary SPAM Sieve there.
If you are scanning important, sensitive documents with your cell phone and sending those files over the internet, make sure to use an app from a reputable, reliable company. Do not use apps from relatively unknown developers, where images could potentially be intercepted. On Android phones, use Google Drive's scan option. On iPhone, open the Notes app and hit the + sign, then tap the "Scan Documents" option. Evernote Scannable is also a legitimate high-quality (free) scanning app.
Christie wonders about Google Duo, the Google version of Facetime. Could Google be recording those? Rich says not likely. The video and audio are encrypted, so that would be difficult to do. However, the metadata is fair game. Who she called, how long she was on the call, where she is, etc. But the reality is, free services still cost "something", so it comes with the expectation that some monetization is going on to pay for it.
Mitch is concerned that uploading photos to a free service could be a privacy issue. What are the services doing with those pictures? Rich says that if consumers are using a free service, it's not surprising that they will look at the images and then suggest ads based on those images. It's all probably automated, which is why we get ads that are so tuned in.
Can he opt out of it? Rich says only if he gets rid of Facebook. Rich says he should only upload photos he wants to share to those services.
Sheldon hears about Amazon's listening in on commands with Alexa, but are they recording when users do a drop-in, or a phone call? Rich says that no, the system is designed to stop listening once the command is executed. Besides, if they were, that could kill the entire service if word got out that Amazon was recording the entire call/drop-in.
But an easy way to test it is to make a call, and then give Alexa a command, If it reacts, then it's not recording. If it doesn't ... well, there would be an interesting answer from Amazon about that.
Kyle is convinced Facebook is listening in on his conversations because he'll get ads showing up that is strangely related to conversations he's had within the last few hours. Are they listening in on him? Leo says that would a huge amount of data for a billion and a half users to process and then generate ads for. So it's likely not what Kyle think it is. The reality is, that Facebook already knows so much about him, that they don't really need to listen in on him.
When you want to find out if you should stay away from typing in a suspicious and possibly fake web address, check the URL's TLD (top-level domain) which should imply whether the site is legitimate or not. For example, if a web address reads Google(dot)com/blahblah then it is a legitimate Google page. However, bad guys can spoof Google and create an address like Google(dot)badguy(dot)com which may easily deceive many victims at first glance. Always be cautious of deceptive URLs and links that can infiltrate your device if clicked.
In a new announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook is moving towards a more privacy-focused experience, including encryption, private groups, and more. Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook doesn't have a reputation for security and privacy, and they plan to change all that. With sharing on Facebook going down by 25%, especially with younger users, Zuckerberg says that the social media network is going to move from a town square, to your own living room. It's a serious PIVOT.
If you're going to use antivirus software, you may want to choose something other than Kaspersky. While Leo believes Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Kaspersky Lab, is a great person, his company is Russian and may be prone to manipulation or seizure by the Russian government/military. In any case, Leo simply recommends excellent alternatives with less baggage. While we don't know for sure what goes on with companies like Kaspersky or Huawei, it's best to err on the side of caution.
Neil bought a Helm email server on Leo's advice. He also bought a domain through Hover to use with it. This is a home email service, and the idea is that you put your email on a server that runs in your own house instead of trusting a service like Google to handle it. Neil is wondering how to back the device up. Leo says one of the things he gets for $99 per year is that Helm backs it up over the internet. What's cool is that the contents of the email on the local server is encrypted with a key that only Neil has access to. Helm even provides a secure USB key to decrypt the backups.