Security and Privacy

Malware, viruses, hacks, and anything else that may compromise your identity online, computer, or digital device.

What's a good way to remember passwords?

Episode 1737

Dan from New Jersey

Dan wants to know what password vault or manager to use for his 90 year old father. Leo says passwords are annoying, to be sure. Everyone wants a password now, and it can be very problematic to remember a unique and random password to stay secure. So people use the same password over and over. May not be an issue for logging into facebook, but for your bank it's a bad thing.

Have I been hacked?

Microsoft's Autoruns

Episode 1736

Chris from Orange County, CA

Chris bought a new HP Envy laptop a few months ago and he's not all that impressed with it. It's nice, but he is having issues with a wandering cursor that opens things up and moving around. It looks like someone has connected to it and done something. But when he steps in front of it, it stops. Leo says that it's likely the computer has a remote access trojan on it and someone is hunting around. When he steps in front of the webcam, it stops. So that tells Leo someone is playing around. 

Can I Use a VPN on a Chromebook?

ExpressVPN

Episode 1733

Phillip from California via Cleveland

Phillip wants to know if ExpressVPN will work on a Chromebook. Leo says he can set it up for a Chromebook, there's a ChromeOS app here. Customers will almost always want to pay for a VPN service to ensure that they aren't selling activity to pay the bills. Also, read their privacy policy. Leo's checked out ExpressVPN and they are legit.

One can also "roll their own" VPN through a router, but that doesn't give the benefit of being geographically anonymous. 

Have I Removed All Remote Access Software?

finder

Episode 1731

Lori from Orange, CA

Lori googled how to remove remote access apps on her Mac, and she was able to remove them after Apple walked her through it. But she's worried that she didn't get it all. Leo says that if Apple took them off, it's a good chance Lori is fine. It's easy to get paranoid about a computer because it does a lot of things we don't understand. The only concern is that when Lori gave the original technician remote access, that he could've installed something else she doesn't know about. If she's really worried, she can always back up her data, format her hard drive, and then reinstall macOS.

Can I revoke remote access from our company IT technician?

ConnectWise

Episode 1730

Lori from Alicia Viejo, CA

Caller allowed a third party that handles support for her company, to install ConnectWise on her private computer. Is that safe? Leo says that if your company has farmed out IT support to a third-party, it's unlikely that third-party is going to lose that business by compromising your personal data. But her devices are all connected. Can she revoke it? Leo says that you can uninstall ConnectWise and remove that access. 

Do I have malware?

Windows Defender

Episode 1730

Karen from Tri-Cities, WA

After getting a phishing scam email, Karen ran a malware scan with Windows Defender and it found a "severe threat" called a Trojan-Downloader. Windows Defender blocked it, but is she still compromised? Leo says that everyone gets those, and it's not a side effect of a virus on your system. So if Defender found one and blocked it, you're safe from it.

Is online banking through a browser secure?

Online Banking

Episode 1730

John from Gridley, CA

John is worried that his identity will be stolen, along with his money, if he does online banking through his browser. Leo says that browsers are equally secure, as long as they keep getting patched on a regular basis. The issue isn't the browser, it's the system itself. The weak link in the chain is you. If you get an email that seems to be from your bank and you click on the links inside, it's likely a fake and your login has been stolen due to a phishing attack. That's the kind of thing that can happen. Banks will never email you. Keep that in mind.

Is My Backup Safe From Ransomware If It's Unplugged From The Network?

iDrive

Episode 1727

Glen from California

Glen wants to know if ransomware can happen if you unplug your backup from the network. Leo says not until he plugs it back in. But it's less likely with a home-based system than say, a commercial network. So clean up the infected computer before reconnecting the backup, otherwise, it could infect it. A lot of ransomware also has time-released capability. It may not infect right away. So if Glen has backup unplugged from the network, he should keep it that way until he's wiped the hard drive and removed the ransomware. 

Has my personal information been hacked?

HaveIBeenPwned.com

Episode 1726

Jim from Oneida, NY

Jim is getting a ton of emails, that his accounts are being reset. He's worried. Leo says that if your password has been changed, that could be a bad sign you've been hacked. So go into all your accounts and change the passwords again. Set up 2 Factor Authentication for your phone. This will prevent someone else from doing that. Stop using related passwords. Use passwords that are random and distinct for every site. The only way to handle that is with a password manager like Last Pass. You can also set up an authenticator, like Google Authenticator or Authy.