Malware, viruses, hacks, and anything else that may compromise your identity online, computer, or digital device.
Security and Privacy
Petya is the latest ransomware hitting millions of computers around the world. Most infected computers are in the Ukraine, where "patient zero" is believed to be. From there it branched out to Russia, Poland, Italy and Germany. It takes advantage of the same flaws in Windows 10 that WannaCry did. Fortunately, it hasn't really hit the U.S. yet, but we'll see more infections as time goes on. Our CIA intelligence service discovered it and didn't say anything because it could use it to spy on others.
Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.
George wants to know if he should update his Java? Is it OK to update? Jason says that it's often OK to ignore them, but if it's an important security update, or if it's required for him to use a website, then it's a good idea to stay updated. It's definitely safer security wise to do so. But Jason also recommends getting rid of Java altogether. When in doubt, though, always go directly to Oracle to get updates. That way he'll know it's always official.
Henry is annoyed with Apple and its latest MacBook Pro. He's not a fan of the touch bar. He's also annoyed that Apple hasn't updated the MacBook Air. Leo says it's because the MacBook Air is too thin for a Retina display. But in reality, the MacBooks are nearly as thin now.
Sara is a painter and is traveling to Florence, Italy to showcase some of her art. She's worried she may not be able to bring her laptop back when she returns, though. Leo says that policy hasn't been decided yet on airlines from Europe. But it could, and if so, she'll have to check her laptop in her bag. Or she could ship it back. She will be able to return with it, just not in the main cabin.
Leo says if she has a tablet or iPhone, she could use that instead, and Excel runs quite well on iOS.
When a story came out recently that a JPL Engineer was detained and his work phone seized, it caused Leo to do some research about your legal rights coming back into the country. Turns out that the 4th amendment's protection against unlawful search and seizure has been suspended when you're in "international waters," and that's what an airport technically is. So the Border Patrol and the TSA have the legal right to take your phone, computer and tablets and demand the password to access all your data.
Image: SecureList / AO Kaspersky Lab
Mary has an old XP computer and she's worried about getting the WannaCry virus. Can she get a patch to protect herself? Leo says that Microsoft has ended life for Windows XP, but did make a patch for it and she can go into Updates and get it. But according to Leo, 98% of infected computers with WannaCry are Windows 7 computers. So XP isn't even on the radar. It doesn't hurt to be safe, though.
Using basic social engineering skills, hackers have managed to use the data on cell phone bills to get customer service reps to move service to a set up mobile phone, and then use that to get into CoinBase through 2 Factor Authentication. As such, one hacker stole 8,000 BitCoin from a user named Cody. Read the full article here.
Charles and his family are going on a cruise and want to know if his devices need to run through a VPN. Leo says there are some risks, but not as much on an iPad. Google has been pushing for https everywhere, meaning that his search activity is encrypted. But that's not stopping someone from using a Wi-Fi sniffer called a Pineapple or Wireshark to figure out what his access point name is. A wise thing to do would be to forget his home network before he goes. Another option is the Tiny Hardware Firewall.
David wants to know if he can use a VPN on his tablet. Leo says that TunnelBear is a good one to look at. Leo uses Hotspot VPN with a hardware dongle called the Tiny Hardware Firewall that he can plug into the tablet and it creates a Wi-Fi access point that he surfs through. It's secure and easy to use.