How does website or VPN encryption work?


When I travel and use a site like Hotspot Shield or another service, how does my information get encrypted? Does the site send an encryption key that encrypts my data before it leaves my computer and then decrypts it with a key only it and my computer knows?

I have the same question regarding my “secure” online banking transaction when I’m at home on my secured wireless network. Does the bank send my computer a key to encrypt my data before it leaves my computer to go through my secured wireless LAN? I plan to travel overseas shortly and I’m very concerned about using my computer for sensitive transactions while overseas.

You’re mostly right, but you’re also overlooking an important step in that process. How do you exchange that encryption key securely before the encryption has been set up?

In other words, how do you send someone a password securely if the only thing that they would have to make it secure is knowing that password before they got it?

The problem is that you need to encrypt to exchange data securely, but you can’t encrypt until you’ve exchanged the encryption key. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem.

Let me explain what happens here at a very high level.

Read moreHow does website or VPN encryption work?

How Can I Back Up My Data More or Less Continuously?

How can I backup my work on a running basis throughout the day so that I don’t lose hours of work through hardware failure or accidental deletion? A friend lost his presentation yesterday while amending it an hour before delivery because of a thumb drive failure. I sometimes accidentally delete parts of my work during the day and have to do them again. My solution is to intermittently save to a file name with “PROTECT” added as the name and on a different drive; but this is clunky, takes time, and is unreliable because it depends on me remembering to do it. Are there automatic options to achieve this purpose?

I feel your friend’s pain. Anybody that has used a computer for any length of time, particularly in business or when giving presentations, has been in his shoes.

Let’s talk about some ways to avoid a repeat.

Read moreHow Can I Back Up My Data More or Less Continuously?

Why are sites making it difficult for password managers?


Following your advice, I use a password manager so I can use long, secure passwords and simply copy-paste into websites. Recently, however, it seems more sites use a technology that prevents this. The temptation now is to use shorter passwords, making them less secure so copying and typing them is easier. Why are sites doing this?

I haven’t seen a site that actually prevents pasting a password in the Password field, but I definitely have seen sites that either intentionally or unintentionally make password managers more difficult to use.

It’s backwards thinking, if you ask me.

Read moreWhy are sites making it difficult for password managers?

How can I prove that I didn’t send a particular email?

A guy received an email apparently from my email address (a Yahoo account), but I’ve never sent such a mail. Now, I received a letter from the attorney of this guy accusing me of harassing his client. The  email in question was sent in April of last year. What can I do to help clarify this misunderstanding?

As it turns out, making email that looks like it came from you is really easy. Spammers actually use “From” spoofing all the time to do this.

Surprisingly, proving that it was not from you might be a little harder.

Read moreHow can I prove that I didn’t send a particular email?

Why Did I Get this Additional Driver Utility?


When I was downloading a driver to put the sound back in my system,  something called “driver wiz” wound up on my system. When I went to the Control Panel to remove it, the command “move” or “remove” is no longer there –  just the word “change.” When you click on Change, it tries to install the program driver wiz. I found out that I’m not the only one having this problem. Can you help?

What you have is a classic PUP –  Potentially Unwanted Program.

Unfortunately, there’s rarely any “potentially” about it. The programs are unwanted. They’ve been getting more aggressive and people are saddled with all sorts of things that they really don’t want.

Let’s talk about prevention first.

Read moreWhy Did I Get this Additional Driver Utility?