malware

Should I get Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials?

Episode 1395

Gloria from North Hollywood, CA
Microsoft Windows Defender

Gloria uses Windows 7 and she's confused whether she uses Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials. Leo says that for Windows 7, she'll need Security Essentials. But it was renamed to Windows Defender for Windows 10. She can get Microsoft Security Essentials at support.microsoft.com to download it.

Have I been hacked?

Episode 1395

Carlos from Jersey City, CA
Virus Found Message

Carlos is getting a popup telling him he's been hacked. He's got OS X Lion on his Mac. Leo says that there's a new thing called "ScareWare" which makes people think they have been hacked or have a virus and it won't let them exit the browser until they call a number. But in reality, it's just a popup that's designed to scare people into calling so that they can convince them to install a remote app that will allow the to do something to "fix" it.

Can I protect my Windows XP computer from WannaCry?

Episode 1393

Lynn from Thousand Oaks, CA
WannaCry

Image: SecureList / AO Kaspersky Lab

Mary has an old XP computer and she's worried about getting the WannaCry virus. Can she get a patch to protect herself? Leo says that Microsoft has ended life for Windows XP, but did make a patch for it and she can go into Updates and get it. But according to Leo, 98% of infected computers with WannaCry are Windows 7 computers. So XP isn't even on the radar. It doesn't hurt to be safe, though.

Why are weird text files appearing on my desktop?

George from Houston, TX

Episode 1393

George wants to know why he's getting weird text files being saved onto his desktop. Leo says it sounds like an app was written with debugging turned on, and when he uses that program, it saves the error messages to a text file. It's a harmless mistake left over by the developer. The trick is to figure out which app it is. George should check out Microsoft's Process Explorer. It should be able to help him track down what app it is. It's at Sysinternals.com.

WannaCry Ransomware Has a Possible Solution

Episode 1391

Encryption

WannaCry is ransomware that can lock up your data unless you pay the hacker who created it. WannaKiwi, however, finds the crypto key in your PCs RAM to undo the damage. It only seems to work about a third of the time, however. That's why Leo says to make sure you don't get it by altering your behavior, and by making sure you have current backups of your data should it happen. One thing you should never do is pay up, because you don't know if you'll get your data back, or if there's something even worse getting installed.

Have I been bit by ransomware?

Episode 1389

Grover from California
Google Chrome

Grover has a popup that says to call Microsoft Support. Has he been bit by ransomware? Leo says no, probably not. It's a phishing attack, but it's to try and get him to call in and then they charge him and access his computer. It's Scareware, really. He can ignore it, but it keeps popping up and he has to reboot his system to get rid of it. He even replaced the hard drive, but it didn't help.

WannaCry is the Latest Phishing Ransomware Attack

Episode 1389

WannaCry

The latest ransomware attack is called WannaCry and it's spreading via phishing email attacks. The ransomware not only encrypts your data — it also has a built-in kill switch on websites. Security researchers may have crafted a fix to it, but there's a catch. The encryption is done using Microsoft's bit locker, and the fix is to take advantage of a flaw in the cryptographic memory that keeps the keys in RAM so it can harvest them and unlock your data.

Has my computer been hacked?

Episode 1385

Melinda from Sherman Oaks, CA
Hacker

Melinda says that after she turns on her computer and goes into her browser, it takes a really long time to get to Gmail, and it goes to her eBay and other accounts. She wonders if she got hacked. Leo says perhaps. That kind of behavior points to being hacked. Maybe someone has gotten physical access to the computer. Did she make an enemy?

Does a smartphone need antivirus?

Episode 1385

Jim from Bend, OR
Antivirus

Jim bought a pair of Samsung Galaxy S8 and the guy at the store said he doesn't need an antivirus app to protect it. Is that true? Leo says it is. Mobile phones don't really need that extra precaution, as long as he only gets his apps from Google Play Store. He should be careful what apps he gets, though, even then. Sometimes a junky app does get through. The benefit through Google Play is that if one gets through, they will remotely kill it.