Derek has to create a Google account, but he wants to prevent Google from having his information. He tried to use an app to mask his phone, but it won't work. Can he use a burner phone? Leo says that he'll have to jump through a lot of hoops to prevent it, but it can be done. A burner phone will work. Then he can create a Google Voice number to use with that. Or he can just put the burner into his car for emergencies. But every time he searches, Google will know what he searched for, even when he's using a private window. The reality is, his phone carrier and ISP will know everything.
Ed uses Proton Mail, but also Gmail. Gmail tells him he has a message at Proton Mail, but he wants to get rid of Gmail. Rich says one thing to do is just log out of Gmail and it will leave him alone. Another option is to look at what third party apps have access to his Gmail account at myaccount.google.com/permissions.
David is thinking about installing a home VPN. Leo says he understands the security concerns, but he won't like using it for very long. It will really slow down his bandwidth. Leo recommends a service called CloudFlare. It changes his DNS to 220.127.116.11, and then masks his traffic so his ISP doesn't know where he's going. He can set it at the router level and he will protect every device in his house.
Andy works as a remote IT guy and he's discovered that the company spies on his network. Leo says one way to solve this issue is to disconnect the XFinity router from the company computer. But if they insist on an always on connection, the Tiny Hardware Firewall may be a good solution. It'll connect to the VPN through a separate router and they wouldn't see any other traffic. Another way to do this, is to get rid of the XFinity router and use your own, like the Ubiquity Edge Router X, which gives you discreet lan options.
David wants to be able to copy TV programs from his DVR satellite, but he can't do it. Leo says that DirecTV and Dish all have proprietary copy protection to prevent it, due to piracy. But Linux boxes will see the hard drives on the DVRs. It's worth a try.
Doctor Mom heard about Amazon Alexa recording conversations and sending them to contacts by mistake. How can she make sure that doesn't happen, since she is a doctor and has HIPPA concerns? Leo says Business Insider has a piece on how to prevent it, here.
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News broke this week that law enforcement has been using a service called Securus, to keep track of people through their GPS data on their cellphone. Securus is a company that data-mines information from cellphone towers, metadata on email and text messages, and phone calls. And it's completely legal.
Jim called in to talk about how the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring not only the free press, but also bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers. Jim wonders if he should use a VPN as a hedge against that. Leo says that while anonymizing his content is a natural reaction, and while a VPN could be a useful tool, but it's not a privacy tool. In fact, encrypting his traffic shines a light on him more than just being a part of the "background noise." Also, a VPN only encrypts the traffic along the way.