malware

NBC Fakes Story About Phones Being Hacked at the Olympics

Episode 1055

NBC's Richard Engle did a story that mobile phones and computers were hacked the second people arrived in Russia for the Olympic Games. Leo says that the NBC story was completely false, and had been faked to get the audience looking at Russia in a particular way. Leo says that they would get hacked if the reporter deliberately went to a malicious site and downloaded the software that would infect the computer or mobile phone. Engle was a thousand miles away in Moscow when he did it.

What should I do after falling victim to a scammer claiming to be from Microsoft?

Suzanne from Vista, CA

Episode 1047

Suzanne got bit by a scammer calling from "Microsoft." The worst part is that she's a security analyst. Leo says that Suzanne shouldn't feel so bad since chances are that they are actually off duty tech support staff moonlighting as scammers. They social engineer victims and scare them into installing something on their computer. The CLSID is not unique. Then they show the user the "Event Viewer" which logs all errors. It looks worse than it is and the scammers rely on that.

How can I stop Firefox from blocking a link I click on?

Morris from Lake Forest, CA

Episode 1044

Morris clicked on a link from an email that got sent to him, but Firefox won't let it open. Leo says that's a security feature designed to protect him from being taken over by hackers. Leo says that it's likely that Morris may have gotten lured by a bad email and Firefox saved him from it. Leo says it can be disabled, but it protects him and is for his own good.

Why does my computer keep asking me to install Java?

Larry from Loma Linda, CA

Episode 1044

Larry has a flashing blue and gold shield that wants him to install a java program. He says no, but it pops up again a few minutes later. Leo says it could be benign, or it could be a concern. Java is a programming language and many websites use it. But Larry's computer is set up correctly to ask permission to install it. It bothers Leo that it says "Publisher unknown," and not "Oracle." Leo says to keep saying no is the best move.

Are software serial numbers found online legit?

James from California

Episode 1040

James found a list of serial numbers for Sony Vegas. Are they legit? Leo says no. Vegas is a $700 software package and if he downloaded the trial version and put a serial number in that he found on the internet, then that's piracy. This isn't really something James will want to do, especially if he's starting his own video business. There's also the risk of getting malware from downloading software from unofficial websites.

What is the GOOG Malware folder on my computer?

Frank from Carlsbad, CA

Episode 1040

Frank has found a folder on his computer that seems to be part of Google, but also has the word malware in it. Leo says that it's Google's anti phishing file folder that's been saved from running Firefox or Chrome. It's a database of sites that are blocked when he's surfing the net. This folder is safe, but it's a good thing that Frank suspected something.

How do I get rid of this "Sweet Pacs" toolbar?

Gloria from Norco, CA

Episode 1037

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.

Will a virus survive formatting a hard drive?

Lorraine from Corona, CA

Episode 1034

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.

How can I protect my dad online?

Connie from Thousand Oaks, CA

Episode 1033

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.