encryption

Set Up Your Router Securely

When you get a new router, there are a few things you can do to make sure it's set up securely.

The first thing you'll do is connect it to your computer and check the manual to find out how to configure it.

Once it's connected to your computer, you'll use the browser to navigate to a special address as instructed in the manual. It should be something like 192.168.1.1. This will take you to the login screen for the router.

Do I need a VPN to change my DNS?

Episode 1518

Richard from West LA

Does Richard have to create a VPN to set up his DNS settings? Leo says no. DNS is essentially the phone book that the internet uses to look your address up. You don't use a VPN for that. VPNs are for encrypted net traffic. OpenDNS is the best DNS that Leo likes. CloudFlare is another. Quad Nine. Google even has a secure DNS. All are great if you're concerned about privacy, as it allows you to filter traffic at the router level. Log into your router, look for the DNS settings, and input the DNS address of your DNS server.

How can I securely wipe my hard drive?

Hard drive

Episode 1510

Andrew from Los Angeles, CA

Andrew misses FDisk in MSDOS. He liked typing from the command line. Leo says that FDisk still exists in Windows, and when he deletes a partition with it, the data isn't lost, it just loses the structure of partition information. If he wants to erase all the data, Leo recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It erases the data, overwrites the hard drive, erases it and overwrites it again. Seven times. So there's no way the data can be recovered.

Why does my cursor jump around?

Apple MacBook Pro

Episode 1509

Dan from Yankee Town, FL

Dan is having an issue where on his MacBook the cursor jumps while he's typing. He can't even write an email. It'll even start a command. Leo suspects it's a problem with the trackpad. He should try cleaning it first. Sometimes "schmutz" can cause phantom touches. The palm rejection software in the OS may have been disabled. The worst case scenario is that the trackpad is failing. Since the laptop is about a year old, he could take it into the Apple Store and have them take a look at it.

Why do I have to reauthorize my Synology backup with Time Machine?

Synology DiskStation DS216

Episode 1508

Tim from Franklin, OH

Tim uses Time Machine for his backup, but the backup fails intermittently. His Synology NAS is citing improper credentials as the cause. Leo says that encryption certificates need to be renewed from time to time, and if he's encrypting his data on backup, that could be the issue.

There is a post on Synology forums about this: Time Machine, Making it Work. Learn from my Suffering. There are some steps that can help.

How safe is the password protection on my computer?

Windows 10

Episode 1501

Robert from Southern California

Robert is concerned with password security. How secure is his Windows login? Does it have to be really crazy difficult? Leo says that it's safe enough for his own use. Networks are protected by the router, which has a separate password. The more unique, the better. But his Windows password is fine unless someone gets physical access to the computer. Leo prefers to use a password manager, though. It's secure everywhere. What about a browser password vault? Leo says that all browsers now use encryption, so they're safe. But he should have 2 factor authentication setup just in case.

How can I be secure on public Wi-Fi?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1496

Jose from Ontario, CA

Jose is concerned about being snooped on when using public Wi-Fi. What can he do to protect himself? Leo says the first thing to do is turn on hard drive encryption. That will keep his data safe should his laptop get stolen. But for just being on a public Wi-Fi, VPNs can be beneficial. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network," and all of the traffic that goes through it is encrypted. It's like a secure tunnel through the internet. Most web pages are encrypted now, though, so no one could see his activity on those sites anyway.

Why can't my new computer see the data on my old hard drive?

Western Digital MyPassport

Episode 1495

Bonnie from Costa Mesa, CA

Bonnie bought a new computer and plugged in her external hard drive. She can see the data on her old computer, but she can't read it on her new computer. Leo has a hunch that her WD Passport runs a proprietary utility that encrypts her data to protect it. She probably will need to install that same software on the new computer in order to see the data.

Twitter Error Results in Passwords Being Stored in Plain Text

Twitter login

Episode 1486

Twitter sent an email to its 330 million users recommending that they change their passwords. This is because of an error that caused user passwords to be stored unencrypted and in plain text. While this was a big flaw, Twitter is being praised for disclosing the information immediately so users can take action to protect their accounts.

Read more at Reuters.com.

How can I encrypt and anonymize my web use?

Anonymous

Episode 1485

Jim from Indianapolis, IN

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.