Tech Q&A: Hacked lightbulbs, secret sexts, malevolent Facebook quizzes and more

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 his smartphone in ways you can only imagine. Parents may struggle to find the content buried deep inside their kids’ Galaxys and iPhones. Meanwhile, hiding illicit photos of classmates isn’t just inappropriate; it can be a criminal offense. Click here to find out where teens hide their nude photos.

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Printer security

Q: I am getting rid of an old printer. Does it have memory like a computer?

A: People often forget that a 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 that 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. Click here for one critical precaution.

Hacking smart appliances

Q: I don’t understand how my smart refrigerator or my smart lightbulbs 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 devices so much as the network they’re 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.

Click here to learn how criminals hack your house and use your household objects against you.

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.

Click here for the best VPN services of 2017.

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: It’s fun to share our 93-percent score with the world, but 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. Click here for the skinny on Facebook quizzes.

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.

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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