security

How can I prevent my email from displaying images?

Gmail

Episode 1613

Sam from Eugene, Oregon

Sam has worked hard to minimize his bandwidth by turning off images in his email account. But it the image still flashes briefly, what gives? Leo says that what Sam has discovered is that while the email account isn't displaying the image, it's set to display your email as HTML, and that means it's still downloading them, and that can trigger a virus or exploit. What you need to do is use an email client that only downloads the ASCII text email and not display emails in HTML. That will prevent it. Thunderbird is free and is very good. Turn off HTML and image loading.

Why is My iMac Overheating?

iMac

Episode 1612

Chuck from Thousand Oaks, CA

Chuck is using Firefox and recently he's been getting error messages. Leo says that may be due to keeping a lot of tabs open. Should he go back to Safari? Leo says that it's about as good, privacy-wise, as Firefox. But for search, he's currently using StartPage.com for searching anonymously. Use that, and it's just as private as Firefox.

Are Hotspots Secure?

Tiny Hardware Firewall.

Episode 1608

Tucker from Kentucky

Tucker wants to use a captive portal wifi hotspot, but is it secure? Some are poorly made and can leak your data, others can sell data or even input advertising into it. Is Opera a good one? Leo says it's not exactly a VPN, and by giving away the service, that costs money. So they have to be making money somehow. Also, it's not strictly a VPN, it's a proxy service. One thing that Leo recommends is the Tiny Hardware Firewall. It has a built-in webserver, dual wifi radios, and a built-in hardware firewall.

Start Saying Goodbye to Your Windows 7 OS

Microsoft will cease support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, so PC users should really upgrade to Windows 10 soon. The most important point will be the loss of security patches for the operating system, which will make it increasingly risky to take online. Eventually, browsers and other constantly-updating software will stop working comfortably with Windows 7 and might be frustrating to use. The same issues plagued users of Windows XP after its time was up. Although Windows 10 looks a bit different, you can configure the interface to more closely resemble what you liked about Windows 7.

Do Not Download/Open Email Attachments

Do not open email attachments, as they are one of the most common causes of innocent computer users getting infected with malicious malware. Email attachments are "the kiss of death." Ask the sender to place the attachment in Dropbox, etc. or other safer alternatives. Furthermore, Mac and Windows 10 users can open PDF files by themselves, so no need to download and install additional software like Adobe Reader. There are too many vulnerabilities these days regarding email attachments and outdated Adobe software.

Is the Yubikey Safe for Authenticating Online?

Yubikey 

Episode 1603

Don from Omaha, NB

Don wants to use a Yubikey to keep his computer safe online. Leo says that the Yubikey is serious two-factor authentication that enables users to generate a code to offer an extra level of security. It's a physical USB device that spits out a code with a one time password. Leo uses it for his email, Twitter, and a host of other sites online. He wishes his bank would support it. He keeps it on his keychain, using a Type C connector. But he can get a Type A adapter as well.

There's even an open source version called SOLOKEYS, which Leo says is every bit as good.

Is my computer vulnerable to attack?

Wireshark

Episode 1601

Jim from Wisconsin

Jim ran GRC Shields Up scanner on his router and he discovered that port 443 was open, not stealth. Is he vulnerable? Leo says you have to have port 443 to run on the internet, but it should be in "stealth mode." You'll also want to find out what's using it. NetStat will help you determine that. Wireshark will also do that. His fan is also running a lot. Leo says that may mean your computer is getting hotter. Probably needs to have the dust cleaned out of it.

Is a Chromebook secure?

HP Chromebook x2 - 12-f015nr

Episode 1596

Veronica from Irvine, CA

Veronica wants to know if her Chromebook works on a home network. Leo says if you have internet access, you will. Are they secure? Leo says absolutely. The thing is, a Chromebook uses ChromeOS, which uses a browser-based interface. This makes it far more secure. And if it does get infected you can simply use the "power wash" feature to start over. But it stores all your data in the cloud, which is far more secure than a hard drive on your laptop.

Why do I have to log into YouTube to watch a video?

YouTube

Episode 1596

Mike from Santa Anna, CA

Mike watches YouTube off his laptop and he keeps getting popups requiring him to log into his Google account to watch videos. What gives? Leo says that Google is starting to get restrictive on some content, and it may be that you have to log into YouTube in order to view sensitive or explicit videos. That doesn't mean anything other than topics that aren't advertiser-friendly. Leo also says it enables Google to collect data on you, so they can monetize it. Get ready, that's the future.