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Issue #839: August 20-26, 2023

Geek Note: I received a few e-mails in response to I.G.T.M. #837, August 6, 2023. A couple of them were interesting reading in light of the column, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Q: In today’s column, you gave instructions on removing a VPN from a Windows computer when the writer was inquiring about a Firestick. In order to remove a VPN (or any app) from a Firestick, do the following:

  •  Go to Home
  • Go to Settings
  • Select Applications
  • Select Manage Installed Applications
  • Scroll to and select the VPN application
  • Select Uninstall
  • Select Confirm

 – David B.
Navarre, Florida

A: Thank-you, David, for catching my slip-up.  I’m a big enough person to admit that I was so focused on the whole aspect of VPNs and the explanation of what they are and what they do that I completely forgot that there was no computer in the loop for this issue, and that the problem had to be within the Firestick itself.  I’m more than happy to give you the credit for the catch.  Now, having said that, my slip-up helped at least one person.  Read on.

• • •

 Q: No question, just a thank you for the VPN column. I checked my computer and I had two VPN listed. Followed your instructions and BINGO! They’re gone for now and for good, I hope!

 – John D.
Shalimar, Florida

A: Thanks for the feedback, John.  With nearly 840 editions of this column under my belt, the times have been few and far between that anyone has taken the time to let me know that any of my suggestions actually did the trick for them.  I’ve always gone with the “no news is good news” school of thought, and just moved on to the next issue.

Speaking of that, now that you’ve secured your computer from those two VPNs, I hope you’ll take the next step and secure all the accounts that may have been compromised by your network traffic passing through some unknown, unauthorized server.  You can never know for sure, but it’s entirely possible that all the usernames and passwords for your online accounts have been tracked and logged somewhere out there.  This type of thing can be an absolute disaster if you tend to use the same password for multiple sites (which is a common practice, since it can be tough to remember the dozens and dozens of passwords a typical user needs to remember these days).  Suddenly the compromise of an innocuous e-mail account, or the account at an obscure online shopping site can morph into someone having full access to your checking account, or your credit card.  I suggest you invest some time in changing lots of passwords (which is a good practice to do periodically anyway).  Choose good, strong passwords that don’t contain guessable personal words, and throw in a mix of capital and lower-case letters, along with numbers and so-called “special” characters, like the stuff that shares the keys with the numbers above the QWERTY row on your keyboard

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