Security and Privacy

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

Can the Fix Me Stick remove viruses?

Jimmy from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1368

Jimmy wants to know if the Fix Me Stick can remove viruses from his computer. Leo says don't get since it won't provide you with anything additional that you can already download from the internet. The most important thing to look for in antivirus software is the frequency of updates. You can also make your own "fix me stick". Antivirus software gives you a false sense of security. Windows existing security software is adequate and updated often. It's best to practice safe computing. Don't click on links and don't take candy from strangers. Be smart online.

Do I have a virus?

Paul from Rochester, NY

Episode 1368

Paul got a notice through Malware bytes that he a virus, but he can't seem to get rid of it. It keeps coming back. What gives? Leo says that it may not be malware at all. it could be a false positive. But the only real way to get rid of it, if it is, is to back up your data and reinstall windows from a known good source. You could also reboot into safe mode, then remove it. That could enable it to be removed without reloading. But Leo's betting it's not malware at all. Sometimes Malware bytes causes more trouble.

What is RFID and is it safe?

Episode 1367

Joe from Anaheim, CA
RFID chip

Joe wants to know what RFID is and how it works. Leo says it works by electromagnetic energy which powers it. It picks up the energy and then broadcasts a signal with an identifier number. Its range is not very far.

How can he protect himself from people grabbing his information via RFID? Leo says that there are wallets which have metal fiber in them that prevents the energy from passing to his chip and broadcasting it.

Is my data safe in the cloud?

Episode 1365

Alan from Santa Rosa, CA
Samsung Chromebook Plus

Alan wants a Chromebook, but he doesn't want to save his banking data in the web. What can he do? Alan can store locally if he has network attached storage, but then he'll have to make sure he can sync properly. The Cloud is safe, especially with the Chromebook. Google does a very good job with security. It's a lot safer than a Windows machine. And Alan should remember, his ISP sees everything and saves everything anyway.

How can I open XLS files?

Episode 1365

Stan from Irvine, CA
Enable Trusted Documents

Stan is having problems opening XLS files due to an error message from the "Trust Center." It'll open the file, but he can't write back to it or save it to his hard drive. Leo says that is Microsoft's security center for excel spreadsheets because it's possible for bad actors to embed commands into an Excel file. There is a workaround for this. Stan can enable all content in the Excel Trust Center settings. But that can be risky if he's unsure of the content in the file he's opening. If he's sure about it, then he'll be OK.

How does Google Voice work?

Episode 1364

Gary from San Diego, CA
Google Voice

Gary wants to know about Google Voice with the Pixel phone. Leo says that Google Voice started as GrandCentral, which he used to use for his office. Then Google bought it and created a central phone hub for everyone. It gives you a new universal number and then rings different phones until it finds you. It also has custom voicemail boxes for people in your contact list, strangers, close friends, and unknown. It also sends you a text message with the voicemail. And it's free to use.

How can I protect my elderly mother from online scams?

Kathleen from San Diego, CA

Episode 1361

Kathleen's elderly Aunt has a Windows computer which she uses to access Facebook and then Outlook for email. Her problem is that she has had a ton of malware and phishing scams that have cost her a lot of money. Leo says that the elderly have always been easy prey to scam artists. It won't happen on a Chromebook though, and she should really have her get one. Leo says to be her administrator and give her a regular user account. But even at the end of the day, that won't stop her from calling a number.