malware

Should I buy a Lenovo laptop?

Episode 1344

Dave from Escondido, CA
Google Pixel

Dave has been Christmas shopping online and he found a great deal on a laptop with 16GB of RAM and dual drives with an SSD and a spinning drive. Leo says it's similar to the Mac Fusion drive, where it has the performance of an SSD and the storage space of a spinning drive. Dave is worried that Lenovo has put malware on it, though. Leo says that it was the Superfish adware, and Lenovo got caught doing that -- twice. They have since learned their lesson. Leo likes the Ideapad and at $749, it's a great deal.

Is it safe to update my browser to read an HTML file?

Rick from Glendora, CA

Episode 1335

Rick has a free file viewer, and it's asking to update the HTML. Leo says don't trust that. HTML is the language of the web and the browser reads it. He doesn't need a special "update" to view it. The first thing Rick needs to do is run Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool. He can do this by pressing Windows Key + R, then typing "MRT" and hitting enter. He should do the full scan.

Could a repair shop install monitoring software on my computer?

Wallace from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Episode 1325

Wallace took his computer into a repair shop, and now he's concerned that they could have put monitoring software on his computer. This is a legitimate concern, and often times it happens remotely with people calling that claim to be from Microsoft or something. If someone has physical access to the system, though, all bets are off. Taking a computer into a repair shop is an absolute act of trust. There's not much he could do about it, though, if he needed to bring it in. There's no certification process or national organization of computer techs, so he'd just have to trust them.

Why are the graphics on my PC getting large right before it crashes?

Dave from Canyon Lake, CA

Episode 1326

Dave upgraded to a Windows 10 Acer PC and his graphics are too large. Then it crashes, causing him to have to reboot. Leo says that's a common video driver issue. Leo says Dave needs to make sure he has the latest drivers from Acer. What Dave needs to do is figure out which video card he has, whether it's a dedicated video card or an integrated video card. He should look in the Device Manager to see the list of hardware. Then once he has that information, he should go to the Acer website and download the drivers. It could be via video card or machine model number.

Are third party download sites safe?

Mike from Fountain, CO

Episode 1325

Mike says that Carbonite has created a new service for an additional $10 for mirror imaging. It's a great value. Leo agrees. Being able to restore from an off site image can be beneficial no matter where he is.

Mike downloaded an app from Downloads.com and now he keeps getting other apps added. Leo says that's why he should never, ever download from a third party site because they always add other stuff. It's how they make money and Leo says it's akin to malware.

(Disclaimer: Carbonite is a sponsor)

What's a good antivirus for Windows 7?

David from Burbank, CA

Episode 1324

David is trying to find an antivirus for Windows 7. Leo says that Microsoft's own Security Essentials (or Defender, depending on the version) is sufficient, and it's free. The problem is that viruses are usually coming out so fast (called zero day exploits) that you can get infected before the AntiVirus finds it and removes it. Then the viruses are often attached to a system file and it renders the computer unusable. Even security experts put antivirus low on the list of things to do to prevent infection.

Can I make an image of my computer to wipe out malware?

David from Phoenix, AZ

Episode 1323

David wants to know how malware effects reinstalling apps. Leo says that once he strips off the malware, he'll have to reinstall his apps. The only way to be sure that he's eliminated the malware is to backup his data, wipe his drive and reinstall Windows. How about an image of the drive? As long as he has a clean image, he could use that. If his computer has malware when he makes the image, he'll just restore the malware. Leo would wipe the drive, reinstall everything, update it all, and then make an image.

Imaging options include:

Did I get scammed by malware?

Ellen from Santa Monica, CA

Episode 1322

Ellen feels like she got ripped off by Microsoft. She got a popup saying she had a virus and listened to it, then paid $250 for support. Leo says that wasn't microsoft. That was a bad guy. Leo says it was a browser popup and they use that to phish for gullible people to sign up. Microsoft will never, ever do that. It's even worse, though. They likely got remote access and not only do they have her credit card, they have also likely installed more malware on the computer. At this point, Ellen should call the credit card company, reverse the charge and have her card number changed.