Stop spying apps

Q. Is it true that certain apps spy on you and steal your data? How can I tell which apps are taking my information and how do I stop it?

A. It's a valid concern. You would be surprised at how many apps take liberties they don't need to. To stop spying apps on an iPhone, go to Settings >> Privacy and choose a permission. You'll see which apps are using that feature of your phone. Slide the slider to "off" to deny an app that permission. Google users can turn off GPS and location services for specific apps. Go to Settings >> Personal >> Location Services and uncheck any checked boxes. Learn how to keep snoops off your smartphone and tablet with these seven essential steps.

Monitor your teen's texts

Q. I'm worried about my teen's texting habits. How can I spy on her messages without her knowing it? I just want to make sure she is being safe.

A. Legally, you can only install spy software on a phone, tablet or smartphone you own. On top of that, spying apps come at a cost - expect to spend around $30 or more. The most popular spy app out now is SpyToMobile. However it only works on Android gadgets. MSPY is an app that's compatible with iOS 7, however it requires you to jailbreak the phone first, which isn't always a great idea. Jailbreaking can make the phone more vulnerable to security threats and might make it harder to get support from Apple. Also, messing up a jailbreak can lock your phone permanently, so be warned. Make sure you follow the provided directions carefully.

Tracking a stolen gadget

Q. I'm worried about my iPad getting lost or stolen. What steps can I take to get it back if that happens?

A. The newest iPads come with a built-in app called Find my iPhone. Don't be confused by the title; it also works for the iPad, iPod touch and Mac. This app, and Where's My Droid for Android, will keep track of the device's location history so you can find it using GPS coordinates. You can remotely lock the stolen gadget and make it display a number to contact. If it's too late to recover the gadget, these apps will also help you wipe the device of any sensitive information.

Antivirus for Macs

Q. I was told that I don't need to put any antivirus on my Macbook. Is that true?

A. Not at all. Macs are not invincible. In fact, it's been conclusively proven that Macs aren't immune to viruses. Fortunately, you don't need to buy an expensive security program. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition and Avira Free Antivirus are both powerful, free solutions. These detect and remove viruses written for Macs with little effort from you. Plus, they detect Windows viruses as well, so you don't accidentally pass them on to Windows computers over the Internet, a network or via flash drive.

Google Hangouts and your small business

Q. Is Google Hangouts the best video chat for my small non-profit?

A. Since you mentioned that you have a small business, Google Hangouts could be your best bet for now. It's compatible with smartphones, tablets and computers, and allows you to make live video calls with up to 10 people at a time. You also can participate in group chats that let you message your coworkers even if they aren't online. Did I mention Google Hangouts is also free? The only caveat is that you need a Google+ account, which is fairly easy to set up.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.