Can Video Chat Be Intercepted and Recorded?

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Hi, Leo. I had a private video chat with my girlfriend. I’m afraid that it could be recorded by someone and released on, say, a porn site. We used personal laptops only. When I got a doubt, I scanned both systems with an anti-virus tool and they’re clean. So, there’s not really a virus, but I’m still afraid that someone will record it for monitoring and all.

It’s impossible to prove that it can’t be (or wasn’t) recorded: you can’t prove a negative. And ultimately, if this is something that really concerns you, then don’t do that!

But I don’t think there’s going to be a problem here. In practical terms, with one exception that most people don’t think about, it’s highly unlikely.

Read moreCan Video Chat Be Intercepted and Recorded?

Can My ISP Monitor My Internet Usage?

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Can employees at a local telephone ISP read my e-mails and monitor my web surfing and tell others about what they read/see?

Yes. Yes, they can.

The real question is, would they? Probably not. And yet … there are new concerns that they might occasionally even be required to.

If it’s of real concern to you, what might you do? I do have some ideas.

Read moreCan My ISP Monitor My Internet Usage?

Is My ISP’s Router Safe to Use?

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Hey, Leo. I recently changed my wireless router to that of my ISP’s provided router. Is this recommended with respect to privacy and monitoring issues? I can go online and see which devices are connected to my router and I can change certain settings and the SSID but I cannot take all the security measures you describe like disabling logging and remote management. Can they monitor my internet activities easier now? What if I use a VPN? Or should I just buy my own router? Does it matter?

The short answer is that it doesn’t really matter, and that I recommend using your ISP’s provided equipment, unless you come across some compelling reason not to. I don’t see one here.

Read moreIs My ISP’s Router Safe to Use?

Why doesn’t my internet speed match what I’m paying for?

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Through my ISP, I’ve contracted for 100 megabits per second of internet speed. The maximum speed that I can get, however, is about 30 megabits per second through WiFi. When I connect to the router via a LAN cable or I have the laptop right next to the router, I get 80 megabits per second, which is close enough for me. I’ve read that unless the WiFi signal is very strong, you never really get the advertised internet speed.

But my question is about the following: my ISP recommends one measure the speed using one specific link and their web page. And that speed is measured downloading a large file from a server that is some 100 km from where I live. I find that when I use one of the many speed-testing sites, I get about the same results if I specify the same server my ISP uses; when I choose servers which are much further away (like another continent), the speed sometimes slows to a crawl. So it would seem that there is a somewhat inverse relationship between the effective internet speed and distance. So my question is, what’s the point of getting ultra fast internet when it hardly ever gets anywhere near the speed promised by the ISP?

Let me start by saying that I’m jealous. I wish I could get 100 megabits per second here. It’s only recently that I’ve managed to get up to 10 to 15 megabits and to be honest, it’s been wonderful.

Second, there are several interesting issues here that I want to cover. Internet speed is one of those topics that I think confuses a lot people and it’s because there are actually many different issues that combine under that same heading.

So, let’s talk about your 100 megabits.

Read moreWhy doesn’t my internet speed match what I’m paying for?

Can an ISP Remotely Access My Computer without My Knowledge?

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In a live chat session that I instigated, my cable ISP technician support wanted to remotely access my PC. “Connect to your computer and share your screen” to troubleshoot my inability to change some account information on their website. I was flabbergasted that they would suggest it and I told them no. As it turned out, my third attempt to change the information worked. The previous attempts brought a cryptic error message. What I’d like to know is whether an ISP can access our PCs without our knowing it? I guess not, but being paranoid is prudent these days.

I agree. Prudent paranoia is actually a good thing.

In this case, an ISP cannot access our PCs without us allowing it. The problem is that there are nuances that you might not realize.

Read moreCan an ISP Remotely Access My Computer without My Knowledge?

Will buying a new modem/router increase my internet speed?

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I run a laptop with Vista SP2, Home Premium, with IE 9 on a wireless home network. I contract with my ISP for a DSL throughput of 1.2 to 1.5 megabits per second. We live in a rural area and that’s the fastest service available. Recently, using various speed tests, my speed has been falling below 1.2 megabits for considerable periods of time.

Monitoring my modem/router, the connect speed that it displays varies: 640/640, 1024/640, 1596/800. In addressing my slow speeds, my ISP insists that my three-year old modem/router needs replacement. I’m willing to do it if that will correct the problem, but my thinking is there’s nothing wrong with my existing modem/router. Aren’t the connection speeds that it displays a result of the line configuration settings originating with my ISP? Am I going to the expense of buying a newer modem/router they recommend only to end up with the situation unchanged?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to confirm what is happening. It could be the router, the line configuration, or other things like wire deterioration (which actually happened to me).

Let’s begin by looking at a few things.

Read moreWill buying a new modem/router increase my internet speed?

Can the Owner of an Open WiFi Hotspot See what Files I’m Downloading?

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Just wondering if others can see what I’m downloading, say in a coffee shop or some other public place, like the administrator there? Or can they just tell that something is being downloaded. It’s a local place so I assume they have some local provider like Comcast. I imagine it just takes up their bandwidth and they don’t like that because it makes the connection slow for others in the establishment. Please let me know.

In this excerpt from Answercast #83, I look at safety in an internet cafe and how the owner, or even the guy right next to you, might be snooping.

Read moreCan the Owner of an Open WiFi Hotspot See what Files I’m Downloading?

How can I find a good web host?

You’re looking for a place to put your website. Maybe it’s just a single page describing what your business is. Maybe it’s a blog. Maybe you’ve got the next best solution to ecommerce that you’re ready to build out.

There are so many web hosts and hosting alternatives that it’s almost impossible to tell one from the other, much less understand if they’ll be what you need.

There are a number of different types of web hosting and I’ll look at a few of them along with some specific recommendations. Each will have their pros and cons, and each will be suitable for different types of solutions.

Read moreHow can I find a good web host?

How do I keep my email address when I switch ISPs?

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I’m moving and my new home will have a new ISP. I’ve had my @att.net email address for years, but AT&T doesn’t serve my new location. My new ISP will be Comcast. How do I keep my @att.net email address? I really don’t want to have to change.

You’re probably going to have to change.

I’ll throw out one idea that might let you avoid it if your old ISP allows it, but a) most probably don’t and b) you’re not going to like it either.

Instead, I’ll describe what’s going on and what you should do to make this the first and last time that you need to change your email address.

Read moreHow do I keep my email address when I switch ISPs?

How can my ISP tell that I’m downloading copyrighted files?

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I recently changed from Verizon DSL to Charter Cable internet services. About a week later, I started receiving warnings via email from Charter telling me to stop downloading music from limewire (copyright infringement?). After that they sent notices to stop downloading movies from UTorrent. What’s funny is that both were files that never finished downloading. What I want to know is how do they know who I am, where I go on the internet and when I choose to save something to my computer? How does someone else know when your on a website downloading anything?

Well to start with, Charter isn’t just any “someone else” … they’re your ISP.

And as your ISP they know a lot about you, and have the ability to do a lot with that information.

Verizon could have but for whatever reason chose not to.

Let’s look at that in a little more detail.

Read moreHow can my ISP tell that I’m downloading copyrighted files?

How do I get wireless internet?

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We have dial-up at our house and I’m sick of it. I can get on the internet from my iPod at the edge of my property, but I want internet on my desktop IN my house. What do I need to connect up?

I want to use this question to clear up a misconception that appears to be surprisingly common.

Wireless internet is not just “out there” to connect to. You need to take steps, whether it’s setting something up, paying for something, or at a minimum, asking for permission.

It’s definitely not the case that you can just grab a wireless card and suddenly be connected anywhere you want. The wireless capabilities of your computer are only half of what’s needed.

There are several approaches to getting a wireless internet connection.

Read moreHow do I get wireless internet?