Bill's computer was bit by ransomware. His computer has been locked and encrypted and the hacker won't open it until he pays for it. Leo says the problem is that there's no guarantee they will unlock it or if they do, they can just lock him down again. There's not much he can do but format the hard drive and restore from a backup. But he shouldn't ever pay the ransom.
The Old Geek is worried about bad flashlight apps which could be malware. Leo says there's nothing to worry about. Both the Android and iOS app stores scan all apps and disable those that have malware. And even better, today's modern OS offers that flashlight capability natively.
Walter got an icon on his Windows machine called "Launch System Healer," and later found out it's malware. How can he get rid of it? Leo says that the problem with malware is that it can be very difficult to get rid of and even if he does, he may not get rid of all of it. But it's called a "PUP" or "potentially unwanted program." It should have an uninstaller, so Walter should look for that. Chances are, Walter accidentally installed it when installing something else that had its own custom installer.
With all of the apps available online, it can be difficult to distinguish the trustworthy developers from rogue developers. If you happen to download a malicious app, that is the most dangerous thing you can do because you're giving that rogue developer permission to install software to access your system. There are precautions you can take to make sure you only get trusted apps, however.
Joanne has gotten a WinZip popup that says she needs to scan and repair her computer. Leo says that is likely a phishing scam that wanted to get her to click on something and install it. She should be very careful with links that she didn't request. She shouldn't accept offers from strangers, as it's likely malware.
Steve bought a Lenovo Windows 7 PC a few years back. He recently wound up getting the Taplika virus with non stop pop up ads in his browser. Leo says he'll need to install "VPlay" from Add/Remove programs and then remove Taplika from his browser. Technically it's not a virus, but a browser hijack and that should get rid of it. VPlay is a Windows service, and that is very insideous. It's going to make it harder to get rid of. He can find more information at malwaretips.com
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.
George wants to know how to avoid malware. Leo says to practice safe computing. Here's a few steps:
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.
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.