Data breach alerts, Wi-Fi spies, cut the cord and more: Tech Q&A

Text from a PC or Mac

Q: So many of my friends use texting to communicate that I can't keep up. Is there an easier way to send text messages from my computer?
A: If you own an iPhone, you may not even realize the full power of iMessage: You can instantly send a message – along with photos, video, and web links – to any other phone, anywhere in the world – from your desktop or laptop. You could also use an app like Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, which operates through Facebook. Another option is a service like Pushbullet, and, even wilder, some phone carriers let you send text messages through their websites. Tap or click to send texts from your PC or Mac.

Breach Alerts

Q: Is there a service I can sign up for that alerts me when there's been a big security breach? How do you find out about these?
A: Data breaches have become so common that pretty much all of us have, at some level, is a victim of some large-scale corporate hack. (Equifax is probably the most frightening example). As the trend of cybercrimes continues, we become numb to the headlines, and we may not recognize the ramifications of a given breach until a great deal of damage has been done. To keep current with cybersecurity issues, sign up for my free security alert newsletter. Every time a major data heist is announced, I report it, so you don’t have to wait around or risk missing that alert. Tap or click to subscribe to my newsletters and get the latest security news.

Cheaper Smartphones

Q: I don’t have $1,000 to spend on a new phone. What can I get for around $300 to $500?

A: Phones are a lot like bottles of wine. You don't have to sacrifice your budget to get a good one. A $1,000 iPhone or an $800 Pixel 3 may be glamorous, but you can fall in love with a smartphone that costs a whole lot less. I researched some budget beauties that come in under $400. These hard-working gadgets still deliver pleasing photos, eye-catching displays, and excellent performance, but they won't stress out your wallet. Tap or click here for great phones priced under $400.

Wi-Fi Exposure

Q: Why can I see my neighbor's Wi-Fi? Can they see mine? How do I hide it?  A: Whether you are driving through a busy city or sitting in an airport terminal, Wi-Fi networks are everywhere. That's because most people don't bother to conceal them, even though they could. They assume that an invisible network would make it inaccessible to themselves, or they don't realize that a network could be invisible in the first place. If you were asking me whether your neighbor can see your Wi-Fi signal, the answer is almost certainly yes. And because your signal is visible, consider concealing it. You may trust and respect your neighbors, but you never know who else might be snooping. Tap or click to hide your wireless network from neighbors.

Cut Cord Wisely

Q: Ok, I'm going to just do it: I'm going to cancel my cable and do the streaming thing. How would you suggest I get started? I don’t want to make a mistake.
A: There is only one sure-fire cure for buyer’s remorse, and that is researching your options ahead of time. There are five things you should know before you use streaming video full-time, and you can tally the total cost beforehand. I suggest that you have a plan in place, including the hardware setup and subscriptions you plan to sign up for, so you don't just make it up as you go along. Tap or click for five things you need to cut the cord.

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.

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Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at