David is thinking about installing a home VPN. Leo says he understands the security concerns, but he won't like using it for very long. It will really slow down his bandwidth. Leo recommends a service called CloudFlare. It changes his DNS to 22.214.171.124, and then masks his traffic so his ISP doesn't know where he's going. He can set it at the router level and he will protect every device in his house.
Andy works as a remote IT guy and he's discovered that the company spies on his network. Leo says one way to solve this issue is to disconnect the XFinity router from the company computer. But if they insist on an always on connection, the Tiny Hardware Firewall may be a good solution. It'll connect to the VPN through a separate router and they wouldn't see any other traffic. Another way to do this, is to get rid of the XFinity router and use your own, like the Ubiquity Edge Router X, which gives you discreet lan options.
David wants to be able to copy TV programs from his DVR satellite, but he can't do it. Leo says that DirecTV and Dish all have proprietary copy protection to prevent it, due to piracy. But Linux boxes will see the hard drives on the DVRs. It's worth a try.
Doctor Mom heard about Amazon Alexa recording conversations and sending them to contacts by mistake. How can she make sure that doesn't happen, since she is a doctor and has HIPPA concerns? Leo says Business Insider has a piece on how to prevent it, here.
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News broke this week that law enforcement has been using a service called Securus, to keep track of people through their GPS data on their cellphone. Securus is a company that data-mines information from cellphone towers, metadata on email and text messages, and phone calls. And it's completely legal.
Jim called in to talk about how the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring not only the free press, but also bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers. Jim wonders if he should use a VPN as a hedge against that. Leo says that while anonymizing his content is a natural reaction, and while a VPN could be a useful tool, but it's not a privacy tool. In fact, encrypting his traffic shines a light on him more than just being a part of the "background noise." Also, a VPN only encrypts the traffic along the way.
Ellen is concerned that with a camera, microphone and GPS, that her phone could be spying on her. Rich says that one company, ZTE, was banned in the US because its phone was collecting user information and phoning home with it. But Rich says that was probably a software issue. Phones aren't really spying on people, per se. But when she signs up for free services like Facebook, they are aggregating a lot of user behavior that is used to push ads to her. It seems like spying, but it's more that it provides information for her based on her interests and online behavior.
Adam bought an iMac from a private seller. It still had Apple Care and he had it transferred to his name. He's worried that there was a keylogger on it and his credit card was compromised. Leo says that unless he wiped the computer himself, he won't know if it's compromised or not. Leo says that it's probably not the Mac, but just in case, Adam should wipe the drive himself. It's really easy to wipe an iMac drive and reinstall the OS. It could be that Adam's iCloud account has been compromised.
Rick's wife is trying to get around her job's internet restrictions with a VPN. Is there any way to do that? Leo says probably not. They will likely have it locked down to the point where she can't get around it. Leo recommends using her mobile phone in hotspot mode. She should turn off Wi-Fi though because she'll still be under their policies even when she's on her phone using the Wi-Fi. The company has the right to not only prevent her from using her own devices on their network, but also to spy on her. So she should be careful.