Can I get rid of malware by restoring my PC?

Scott from Ventura, CA

Episode 1239

Scott wants to know if doing a restore would get rid of any malware that may be on the system after its been compromised. Leo says yes, it will. Those popups are trying to get you to call them and install software. So if he didn't do that, he's probably OK. But if he did, not only will he need to get rid of the malware, but if they charged him, they will now have his credit card information. So he'll not only have to backup his data and erase the hard drive, he'll have to cancel that credit card as well.

Why am I getting popups saying my computer is infected?

Lee from Escondido, CA

Episode 1233

Lee gets a popup that says his computer is infected and he can't get rid of it. Leo says it's a scam, and Lee should never call the 800 number that pops up. Lee went into the task manager to kill the popup, but it kills the browser as well. Leo says that Chrome should be catching the popups and stopping them. He's now getting a popup with a bluescreen. Leo says that's a clever ploy, but it's not an actual "blue screen of death." It's just a window.

What should I do after someone had unauthorized physical access to my PC?

Elizabeth from Santa Clarita, CA

Episode 1218

Elizabeth wants to undo whatever her nephew did to her PC after he came to visit. He's got mad computer skills and she caught him rummaging around her computer without her permission. Leo recommends backing up her data, formatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows from a known good source. That way any modifications he's made will be wiped out.

Would Microsoft ever call me?

John from Arizona

Episode 1216

John is getting phone calls about unusual activity on his computer. He was told it was from Microsoft. Leo says it's a scam, and it's usually done by actual tech support people who moonlight with phishing scams through the Microsoft Event Viewer. The idea is to get users to see the "red x's" that are actually normal events in the viewer. They fool people into to giving them their credit card, charge them $300, and then they use the remote access to install malware on the system.

Do I have malware on my system?

Dave from Portola Hills, CA

Episode 1213

Dave was on a government website and he got a popup that he may be infected with malware, which forced him to reboot the system to get out of it. He's worried now that he's been infected. Leo says that's a good instinct. This has been happening a lot. Often, it happens if you've mistyped the URL, which leads you to a malware site. This is most likely from Javascript, though, which doesn't impact your computer and is designed to scare you into installing something or paying someone to claim to unlock it.

How can I stop popups from crashing my phone browser?

Ed from San Jose, CA

Episode 1213

Ed was surfing on his iPhone in privacy mode and his app screen suddenly locked when he was searching, saying he was engaging in illegal traffic and he had to pay $500 to unlock the screen. Leo says that's a scam done by Javascript. His phone really isn't locked down. It's not leaving anything on the system. It's "sandboxed." It's not perfect, though, as there could be holes in the Javascript code. Leo suggests double tapping the home button and swiping up to kill the app. On the desktop, NoScript will prevent this from happening by blocking Javascript.

What should I do if I fall victim to a phishing scam?

Frank from Lemonburough

Episode 1212

Frank got fooled by a Phishing popup. He called the 800 number that was associated with it and they charged him $300 to "fix it." Leo says they were pretending to be Apple Care. It's a scam. Frank suspected chicanery and called Apple Care, who confirmed it was a scam. Leo says that's a smart thing. So he turned off the computer. He doesn't see anything wrong with his computer, but what should he do? Leo says that chances are they probably didn't get far, so Frank is probably OK.

Do I need a third party antivirus program with Windows 10?

Alan from Washington DC

Episode 1211

Alan just installed Windows 10 on a few computers and wants to know if there's any reason to install a third party antivirus program with it. Leo says that Google has done a study about this, and they've found that most security experts believe antivirus software gives a false sense of security and doesn't guard against zero day exploits, which are the real threat now.

Did I get malware from Java?

Kirk from Crestline, CA

Episode 1207

Kirk downloaded a Java upgrade and now all his shortcuts go to an exe file. Leo suspects that Kirk got nailed by malware.There are plenty of security flaws in Java but it may also be that Kirk was doing something at the same time and he got malware. Either way, Kirk has malware, and the only way to be sure that he's gotten rid of it, is to backup his data, format the hard drive, and reinstall Windows from a known good source.