Gloria is an artist and uses her computer to order her supplies. She's been bit by malware called "Sweet Pacs." Leo says that Gloria inadvertently agreed to install the Sweet Pacs toolbar, which has basically taken over her browser. The chatroom says it's part of an ad site called "Conduit," which brags that they have 250 million users. Leo says most of them have been duped into installing the toolbar.
Ransomware topped the list of cyber threats in 2013, according to Malware Bytes. Chief of these was Cryptolocker, which encrypts your data and holds it ransom for $300. You have only 72 hours to pay up before the key to get your data back is lost forever. Leo says that even police stations have been bit by it and were forced to pay up.
Lorraine is wiping her hard drive and reinstalling, and is worried that if she doesn't partition her hard drive correctly, a virus could survive formatting. Leo says no, that was an urban legend that has since been debunked. There have been cases of viruses that could hide in the BIOS or in the memory of a video card or printer, but Leo's never seen it happen in real life. So there's no real worry.
Connie is worried that since her dad leaves his computer on, it's more vulnerable to attack. Leo says no, that's not how it works. There are things that Connie can do to protect him better, though:
1) Use a Mac (he does)
2) Get a router. The router will act as a dumb box that won't allow malware to pass in or sniff what he's going online.
3) Teach him to guard his behavior by not clicking on attachments or links in email, etc. And always be suspicious of them, double-checking the URL before clicking on the link.
Waxman sometimes logs into his bank with his iPhone and is concerned about malware. Apple must approve all apps in the app store, so there aren't viruses to warrant needing an antivirus program. The apps are also segregated with no data sharing between them. So it's a pretty closed system. Android, by contrast, allows for the sale of antivirus apps because it's pretty wide open. The bigger issue is the wireless networking that he's using. But the bank data is encrypted, so there's no real issue.
Jerri has been getting emails saying the messages she's sending are spam and are being bounced back. Leo says Jerri got "spoofed," and spammers are using her email address in the return so they can't be traced back to them. The good news is that sooner or later, spammers will rotate Jerri's email out in favor of someone else.
Pat is concerned about key loggers being installed onto his computer. What software can he get to prevent it? Leo says any good antivirus, like Eset's Nod32 will look out for that stuff, but it won't protect him against his own behavior. He could easily get a malicious email from someone he knows who got infected, and end up with malware. He should keep Automatic Updates turned on in Windows, too.
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Ellen's son is a gamer and he's run into an issue with Internet explorer. Leo says at 14, he probably went to somewhere he shouldn't have. Now she has to do a restore, but she has no restore points. Leo says that's a common thing that hackers will do. They erase all restore points to prevent you from doing just that. Leo says that if she has a backup on a separate hard drive, then she could restore from that. She tried and got a blank screen, though. Leo says that the bad guy could've gotten access to that hard drive as well, but he says it could also just be a failed restore.
John has a Windows 7 PC and is worried that if he gets bit by CryptoLocker, he will lose his backups. Leo says that Carbonite has "versioning" which means it backs up different versions of his data. If his current copy is affected, he can always delete his data and restore from Carbonite. It's not a substitute for protection and behavior, but it's a good last line of defense. If he gets the virus, it's important to also wipe the hard drive, reinstall Windows, and run updates.
Karl got bit by the FBI Moneypack virus. Leo says that he will be able to get rid of it, but he may need to go to a professional. The chatroom says that this Neowin article outlines how to get rid of ransomware. Once he gets back into his computer he should backup his data, format the hard drive and then reinstall and update Windows.