Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.
Sometimes choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.
This week, I received questions about hacked light bulbs, secret sexts, malevolent Facebook quizzes, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Hidden Teen Sexting
Q: I am concerned my son is sexting. I looked on his phone and didn’t see anything. But maybe I did not look in the right place. Can you help?
A: Your teen likely knows how to manipulate their smartphone in ways you could only imagine. Parents may struggle to find the content buried deep inside their Galaxys and iPhones. Meanwhile, hiding illicit photos of classmates isn’t just inappropriate; it can be a criminal offense.
Q: I am getting rid of an old printer. Does it have memory like a computer?
A: People often forget that your printer stores data just like any other device. One of the most common uses of a printer is to make hard copies of important documents, which often contain our names, addresses, and social security numbers. We think nothing of running these PDFs through our printers, but what happens to the data after it’s been used? It’s good to take precautions, and there are ways to erase every last print job before you bid farewell to your machine.
Hacking Smart Appliances
Q: I don’t understand how my smart refrigerator or my smart light bulbs can be hacked. Can you explain why I should care?
A: Smart appliances are still new, and the fact that someone can hack them should be worrying enough. But hackers don’t want the device so much as the network that device is connected to. This kind of invasion, called a DDoS attack, can cause serious problems for your router, devices, and server, and it might even shut down chunks of the internet.
Secure the Right VPN
Q: I heard that I should use a VPN on public Wi-Fi. Why and can you tell me which is the best?
A: The operative word in a “virtual private network” is “private.” You can use your computer with local Wi-Fi and fortify yourself against unwanted guests. Companies often issue VPNs to their employees, especially when they need to take laptops out of the office. I also know many people who travel to countries where the internet is restricted, and a VPN can access forbidden websites like Google and Facebook. Most VPNs are effective and reasonably priced, but as you suggest, some are better than others.
Avoid Facebook Quizzes
Q: I really like taking the fun quizzes on Facebook. I heard you say that we should not do that. Can you please elaborate?
A: Isn’t it fun to share our 93 percent score with the world? Yet most of us never suspect, as we test our geography skills and knowledge of game show trivia, that we are actually handing over access to our Facebook accounts. This was forgivable in the early days of social media when we were still adjusting to the platform, but today’s users ought to be more cautious.
What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.