Security and Privacy

Malware, viruses, hacks, and anything else that may compromise your identity online, computer, or digital device.

Is a VPN faster than remote access?

Episode 1520

Ilya from Los Angeles, CA

Ilya spends a lot of time traveling and wants to know if Remote PC is a good way to access his computer to surf. Leo says you can, but it could be slower than using a VPN. It really comes down to your bandwidth, and what VPN service you're using. You'd certainly be more secure with a remote access product or VPN. But that doesn't mean a host nation won't see what you're doing. They'll at the very least be suspicious as to why you're using an encrypted app. So avoid authoritarian countries when using it. Leo also recommends the Ubakey.

What happened to my computer after uninstalling Norton?

Episode 1520

Steve from Bellflower, CA

Steve recently installed Norton AntiVirus off his Windows Vista machine, and now he's having all sorts of trouble. Now he gets a master boot record error. Leo says that's the file that starts up the computer and it's damaged. And there's also a other problems Steve is dealing with. This is why Leo hates Norton. Norton can quarantine system files and that messes up the entire works. You also probably didn't uninstall all of Norton, either. At this stage, you need to just bite the bullet and reinstall Windows. And do it with Windows 10 while you're at it. Another option is to use Linux.

How can I protect my ATM card?

Episode 1517

Jay from North Carolina

Jay's mother is having issues with her bank, that here ATM card is getting accessed over and over again, even though the bank has reissued the card with a separate number. How can that be and what can he do? Leo says that a smaller bank may have lackluster security. Protections are much better on credit cards, than debit cards. You can only be on the hook for $50 with a credit card. With a debit card, the limits are higher. Always keep possession of your debit card and use a credit card for other options, like online purchases, or eating out.

Is my computer infected?

Keyboard

Episode 1515

Tom from Montana

Tom has a friend who gave a technician remote access after calling a number in a popup ad for his Echo. Leo says he fell victim to a scam and there's a good chance that his computer is infected with malware, a key logger, remote access trojans, the works. At this point, the only safe thing to do is backup the data, format the hard drive, and reinstall Windows from a known, safe source, then update. Only then can he be sure his computer is safe.

Amazon's Face Recognition Mistakenly Identifies Congress Members as Felons

Amazon logo

Episode 1510

Amazon's "Rekognition" face recognition software, which is being rented to police, has identified members of congress as felons. When the ACLU ran the software, designed to match people to a database of mugshots, it identified a total of 28 congressional members as felons. Amazon claims that the software was used incorrectly, and should have been set to a 99% confidence level instead of the 80% that was used.

Read more at arstechnica.com.

Is it safe to keep my passwords in a spreadsheet?

LastPass Vault

Episode 1508

Bob from Tulsa, OK

Bob has all his passwords inputted in a spreadsheet. Is that secure? Leo says if it works for him, that's one step better than just using the same password over and over. But if someone gets ahold of that file, they have the keys to his kingdom. That's why using LastPass, which generates complicated and secure passwords is a good idea. Bob agrees, but he doesn't know how to use it to change his passwords. Leo says if he goes to LastPass's help desk, they describe step by step how to do it.

What's the best mesh router?

Plume Wi-Fi

Episode 1506

Paul from Louisville, KY

Paul is concerned about internet of things and security. He wants to know if Plume would be a good, secure mesh router that can protect his network from the outside hacking his IoT. Leo says that Plume requires a yearly subscription to keep it up to date. Leo says it's somewhat justified because it can keep his network more secure. He's paying for security on his network, but his IoT devices may not be getting updated, so they're not secure. And his internet is only as secure as his weakest device.