Security and Privacy

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

Why Do Some Sites Block My VPN?

BBC

Episode 1632

Dan from Orange County, CA

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.

How should I install my VPN?

Tiny Hardwire Firewall

Episode 1631

Karen from Olympia, WA

Karen wants to know if putting a VPN on her router would keep her secure. Leo says that it would encrypt stuff in your network, but in order to get your traffic encrypted going out, you need to have the software on your desktop. Leo likes to use the Tiny Hardware Firewall VPN because it's in between your computer and the outside world. It's a great way to go. 

Are Mesh routers secure?

eero Mesh Router

Episode 1631

Paul from Columbus, OH

Paul wants to know more about Mesh Routers and Internet of Things, but is concerned about security. Leo says that if you stick to main brands like Eero and Netgear, they will keep their firmware updated for security purposes. Leo recommends the Eero. But you may have to pay a monthly security subscription, which Leo hates.

Is 2-Factor Authentication by SMS Safe?

Authentication

Episode 1626

Ben from Auburn, AL

Ben has an issue with 2-factor authentication. Leo says that text message 2-factor authentication isn't safe anymore because "sim jacking" can occur, by bad guys figuring out what your cellphone number is, and then using social engineering to get them to reassign that number to a new SIM. Once they do that, they have control of the mobile device and can control even 2-factor authentication. That's why Leo supports using an authenticator. He uses a hardware-based model called Authy.

Is There a Password Manager that Doubles as a VPN?

ExpressVPN

Episode 1624

Mike from Highland, CA

Mike needs a good password manager that can also serve as a VPN. Is there any? Leo says he doesn't think that there is one, but that is a great idea. Leo recommends LastPass or 1Password for a good password vault. As for VPNs, there are a lot of options out there, but beware of free VPNs, because to make money, they sell their traffic. So it really isn't all that secure. Leo recommends ExpressVPN. There's also the Tiny Hardware Firewall.

What's a good, affordable security camera?

Wyze Cam

Episode 1623

Susan from San Diego, CA

Susan has a fighting studio, and she needs some security cameras. Preferably something wireless. Recommendations? Leo says that battery-powered cameras wouldn't work because they are motion-controlled. So Leo recommends cameras that are wired for AC power. He recommends the Google NEST Camera. But the downside is, that they're expensive and the monthly fee is required for storage.  A better affordable option is WyzeCam. They start at $20. Offer night vision. Have two-way audio. And you can view them online.

How can I protect my private information online?

FireFox Send

Episode 1623

Larry from San Francisco, CA

Larry is a mobile notary, and some companies want him to provide his private information via email. He doesn't want to do that. Leo says you shouldn't because it's not secure with servers that are between you and them. What Leo recommends is ZIPPING it with a password, then send them the password to them by phone. 

Firefox also has a service called FireFox Send, which would enable you to send documents with a secure link that will expire after a brief time. ShareFile is another option.

Why Can't I Update Windows?

Microsoft

Episode 1622

Bruce from San Diego, California

Bruce can't get the latest Windows Update 1903 on his HP laptop. Microsoft says that this BIOS is too out of date and as such, it'll fail and roll back. Is there a way to block it so it won't keep doing it? The problem is, that Microsoft has stopped supporting 1803, which is where Bruce is stuck, and as such, he won't get security updates starting at the end of the year. That's a real concern. He tried putting it on a metered connection and that does stop it, but he's worried about security. He still wants the security updates.