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 the best TVs, riskware, deepfake videos and more.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?
Tap or click here to email me directly.
Spotting deepfake videos
Q: I keep hearing about these deepfake videos. How is someone able to make these look so real? Is there any telltale sign to spot a real video from a fake one?
A: No exaggeration, this is one of the scariest developments of the 21st century. If you can take the sounds and images of a given person and convincingly manipulate them to say and do things they’ve never said and done, you begin to cast doubt on anything you see and hear on the internet.
I don’t mean fake headlines and misleading, Photoshopped memes; I mean moving images that are redesigned to embarrass or incriminate an innocent person, throwing the rest of us into unmerited confusion.
As the technology behind deepfake videography becomes more accessible to regular people, the potential for disturbing real-life consequences grows exponentially. Get acquainted with it now, because it’s going to be a major issue going forward. Tap or click here for the scary science behind deepfakes.
Accelerate old computers
Q: My computer is so old it can be traced back to Adam and Eve. I think it has only one byte of memory! But it’s not an Apple. It runs Windows. Is there anything I can do to speed it up?
A: Windows computers have a reputation for getting sluggish after a few years. Perhaps the biggest albatross is the dreaded “background task” — programs that constantly operate without your knowledge, exactly as they’re designed to do. But many of these programs aren’t essential, and there’s no need to keep them running.
Such redundancies are a big frustration for many users because they’re not sure which programs and files to discontinue or delete. Once you start treating your computer as a problem to be solved, you may find all kinds of hang-ups, including necessary updates and undetected malware.
In short, you may still be able to get some years out of that ancient interface. Tap or click here for seven pro tips to speed up your old computer.
Q: I need a new TV. Is it better to buy it at Amazon, Best Buy, Costco or Walmart? I want the best picture at the best price.
A: As you have probably discovered, there are zillions of models and makes of new televisions, so it makes sense that you’d feel some “option paralysis.” TVs come in all sizes, types and resolutions. There are whole catalogs full of 4K and smart TV options, with screens that can sit on a kitchen counter or sprawl across an entire living room wall.
You can guess what I’m going to say: it depends on what you’re looking for. You mentioned “the best picture for the best price,” which is a clear need, but you may find that regular TV and your typical streaming services don’t look crystal clear on the top-market displays.
All that said, there are some terrific deals going on right now, and you’re almost guaranteed to find what you’re looking for. Tap or click here for the best deals online and offline on new TVs.
Jeff Bezos’ phone hack
Q: I have always wondered how someone was able to get naked pictures off Jeff Bezos’ phone. If the head of Amazon can be duped, is there any hope for me?
A: Yes, this was quite terrifying and there are many lessons to be learned: first, we are all vulnerable to cyberattacks. Even tech leaders and intelligence officials have vulnerabilities, and some people who should know better are actually pretty clumsy with their security measures.
Another take-home from the Bezos scandal is that you probably shouldn’t put embarrassing or compromising material on your phone. A stolen identity can radically impact your life, but nude photos are uniquely humiliating and they can be manipulated in countless ways.
Luckily, there are some basic security measures that will radically improve your defenses against hackers. Keep in mind, Bezos is a big name in the industry, and hackers delight in the idea of hurting him. But the rest of us can’t rely on our obscurity to protect us. Tap or click here to find out how to protect your phone from hackers.
Remove riskware apps
Q: On your show, you warned us of apps that were “riskware.” Is there a list of apps we should remove from our phones?
A: I’m glad you caught that. The term is relatively new, and many people are not aware of “riskware.” Here’s the gist: Riskware is a kind of app that appears totally normal or even mundane, which is made available from an online store.
For a certain number of days or weeks, the app appears to function normally; then, out of nowhere, your phone starts to barrage you with spam. The spam appears at random intervals, so you may not make the connection between this obnoxious new behavior and an app you downloaded weeks ago.
Google Play is struggling to keep up with these decoy apps, but more than a dozen have already been identified. All kinds of apps are designed to deliver malware and other problems, but this kind of delayed effect is a clever new strategy everyone should know about. Tap or click here for 17 Android apps you should delete right now.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.