Security and Privacy

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

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.

Why does Windows 7 keep saying it's preparing to delete files?

Barbara from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1361

Barbara is getting a message that Windows 7 is preparing to delete her files as soon as she turns on her computer. Leo says that if Barbara has left files in the recycle bin, it may be that when she turns on the computer, it wants to delete the files in the recycle bin because it's full. She should try emptying the recycle bin, assuming she doesn't want anything in it, and then that should solve the popup. If she reboots and the message is still coming up, there could be something wrong with her system.

Has my Mac been hacked?

Episode 1360

Brian from Lancaster, CA
macOS Sierra

Brian thinks his Mac got hit by malware. He clicked on a link that took him to a page saying his Adobe Flash player was out of date, and he installed something. Now he thinks he's been busted. Leo says that Chrome has Flash built-in, and it's always updated, so he'll never have an outdated version.

Ransomware Attack Targets Hotel Door Locks

Episode 1359

Ransomware has always been a terrible plague of the internet, where bad guys inject software into your computer through phishing emails. They usually trick you by saying it's from your bank, the IRS, or even your boss asking you to open something. When you do that, it's an application that runs and scrambles all of your data and asks you to give them money to get the data back.

How can I tell if my computer has been hacked?

Episode 1359

Ryan from Los Angeles, CA
hacking

Ryan wants to know how would he know if his computer had been hacked. Leo says that he can always scan his computer with antivirus software and with Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool. In many cases, hackers are getting around that by moving their malware into routers and other "internet of things" devices. This is why updating the router's firmware is vital.

Is Google's VPN secure?

Episode 1358

Mark from Grand Rapids, MI
Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Mark finally got a Google Pixel XL, which was on back order. Leo says it's been widely known that they're only available in limited quantities right now. It's likely that the demand exceeded Google's expectation. Mark says he likes the Wi-Fi assistant because it'll automatically connect via VPN. Does it really work? Leo says yes. Phones can be a bit promiscuous with random hotspots. So Google adds an encrypted connection via VPN to protect users. Leo says he doesn't really like joining Wi-Fi access points automatically, so he's turned it off.

Why does Windows 10 keep telling me I'm unprotected?

Episode 1357

Bret from Wood-Ridge, NJ
Windows 10

Bret has Windows 10 and uses Windows Defender, but it keeps telling him he's unprotected -- even if he's just run a scan. Leo says there's a little red flag in the task menu, and if he opens that up, it will tell him what's unprotected. Bret says it's just notifications that keep coming up, and Leo says he can just turn those notifications off. Leo suggests looking at the screen that tells him what's unprotected. If he doesn't have protection updates turned on, he may want to do that. If he wants to be as safe as possible, he should turn all that stuff on.

Pwn2Own Competition Shows What Platforms are Most Secure

Episode 1357

Hacking

Pwn2Own is an annual competition held at CanSacWest in Canada. Prizes are awarded to the hackers who can most quickly hack various operating systems and programs. This year a million dollars in prizes will be awarded, meaning it attracts the best hackers in the world. The money awarded is directly related to the difficulty in hacking the target. The most money goes to anyone who can hack an Apache web server.

Read more at blog.trendmicro.com.

FTC Dismantles Robocall Operations That Illegally Called Millions

Episode 1357

Cisco Phone

The FTC filed complaints against two separate robocall groups. Many of the calls, according to the FTC, were to numbers on the "Do Not Call" registry. These robocall groups were calling hundreds of millions of people in 2012 and 2013 selling home security systems or generating leads for home security installation companies. They were also doing auto warranties.

Read more at ftc.gov

Study Finds Squirrels are the Biggest Threat to Critical Infrastructure

Episode 1357

Eastern Grey Squirrel

A recent study has found that the greatest threat to our critical infrastructure is squirrels. Not hackers, not enemy states, not organizations, but squirrels. Small animals have been responsible for more than 1,700 power cuts affecting 5 million people.

Read more at bbc.com.

Image By BirdPhotos.com (BirdPhotos.com) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons