Security and Privacy

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

How can I prevent Google from knowing everything about me?

Google

Episode 1541

Derek from Costa Mesa, CA

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.

Why are my browsers crashing?

Microsoft Edge Browser

Episode 1541

Steve from Redondo Beach, CA

Steve is having trouble with Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. After about 2 minutes, both apps crash. Leo says that it could be malware infecting his browsers. But more likely there's a render driver that both browsers use which is causing the crash when he visits certain websites. Leo recommends doing a thorough scan using Windows Defender, and he should also run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool from the command line. To get to that, he can press the Windows Key and type MRT. Leo also suspects that Java is broken.

Should I use a VPN on cruise ship Wi-Fi?

Cruise Ship

Episode 1538

John from Fallbrook, CA

Leo says whenever he's on communal Wi-Fi, as he will be on the cruise, a hotel, or a coffee shop, everyone's on the same network. Nowadays, places like these are getting better about making it more secure, and it isn't as risky as it used to be. But there is a potential risk that someone else on that network could snoop on him. Whenever he's using email, shopping on Amazon, or banking, all of that traffic is already encrypted. Leo thinks using a VPN on cruise ship Wi-Fi would probably slow his connection down to a point where he wouldn't be able to stream content online.

Why am I not getting my Windows updates?

Windows 10 Start Menu

Episode 1532

Steve from Tacoma, WA

Steve's Windows 10 machine won't update beyond 1803. Leo says that Microsoft pulled 1809 because of some bugs. It will be fixed and available again soon, though. Feature updates aren't critical — it's just the security updates that are important. But if it's preventing him from getting security updates, then it could mean the update is blocked and he'll have to clear 1803 in order to get back to updating. Microsoft has a troubleshooter for blocked updates, and Leo recommends running it.

How can I stop robocalls?

woman on phone

Episode 1531

Jessie from Durango, CO

Jessie keeps getting robocalls and the numbers they get are either disconnected or bogus. Leo says that they are bogus, and according to a recent survey, by 2019, 80% of cell phone calls will be robocalls. And nobody knows what to do about it. Most are from overseas. They forge the caller ID, and will even do it with the recipient's area code and prefix. The reality is, legitimate companies will not be calling. They'll be using mail. Jessie can log her number into the DoNotCall.Gov database.