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Archive for April, 2011
April 29th, 2011

Californian woman follows dream to become new avast! voice

What do you do when the “avast! virus database has been updated” message comes from your computer in the morning?

Aubrey Anthony, head of customer service at a California internet service provider, used to just imitate the message – but then she got an inspiration: “I told my boyfriend … what do you think about me being the voice for AVAST Software?”

The two came up with a quick answer. “We both decided it would be so cool and he told me to go for it,” remembered Aubrey. So she sent AVAST Software the following message:
The reason I am emailing is that it is my dream to be the next “avast! virus database has been updated” voice. It would be so awesome!

“I sent the email to AVAST not expecting to hear back,” stated Aubrey. But, she did get a message back – Read more…

April 22nd, 2011

Another nasty trick in malicious PDF

A new method of producing malicious PDF files has been discovered by the avast! Virus Lab team. The new method is more than a specific, patchable vulnerability; it is a trick that enables the makers of malicious PDF files to slide them past almost all AV scanners.

Overall, PDF specifications allow many different filters (such as ASCII85Decode, RunLengthDecode, ASCIIHexDecode, FlateDecode, …) to be used on raw data. In addition, there is no limit on the number of the filters used for a single data entry. Anyone can create valid PDF files where the data uses, for example, five different filters or five layers of the same filter. All of these features are based on extremely liberal specifications, a fact which allows bad guys to utilize malicious files in a way that does not allow antivirus scanners access to the real payload.

The new trick is based just on one filter, so it doesn’t sound exciting, does it? So what’s the reason for posting this blog post?

The filter used to encrypt text data is meant to be used only for black and white images. And apart from avast!,  probably no other AV scanner is currently able to decode the payload because no other AV can detect those PDF files.

Read more…

April 20th, 2011

avast! WebRep now in Chrome

You’ve been asking for it… so here it is: As of the latest update to our avast! 6.0 series (earlier this week), avast! WebRep is now available in the Google Chrome browser. ;)

 

Screenshot of WebRep results, for the searched term "warez"

avast! WebRep is based on information received from the global avast! user community related to the content and security of visited websites. Read more…

April 14th, 2011

Excellent! First comparative with avast! version 6.0

The Virus Bulletin comparative test from last Friday was the first to include our latest version 6.0 and compare it to other security solutions. AVAST submitted as always our avast! Free Antivirus version against other companies’ paid-for security suites and even business solutions, to endorse our vision that when it comes to malware, free security can and should be delivering the same protection as paid-for alternatives.

All together there were 69 products in the test which – I have to say – is a bit of surprise to me because one keeps thinking there can’t be that many. If woken in the middle of the night I would be able to name 5 brands. Right now I could summon 14 names. Of course there is a little bit of inflation with some brands testing more products (like Kaspersky for example). And then there are a number of products that use the scanning engine or multiple-engines of other vendors. Several multi-engine products scored as always very high on detection (G-Data, Trustport, and others) but of course using more than one engine has an impact on the scan speed and use of computer resources.

So how did avast! compare to the others? Excellent indeed! Read more…

April 14th, 2011

avast! Free Antivirus awarded the best security program of 2010 by Softonic

The popular downloading site Softonic announced on Monday the winners of the Best 2010 Programs Award as voted for by Softonic visitors in Spanish, English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and Dutch.

… ladies and gentlemen, and the winners is:   avast! Free Antivirus!   Voted  as the best security solution for Windows.

Softonic.com is the world’s second largest downloading site with probably the broadest geographical coverage and we are honored by the vote and our users’ confidence in the protection avast! Free Antivirus provides.   A big thank you to all who voted for us.

 

Categories: General, Marketing Tags: ,
April 12th, 2011

Follow-up instructions for “False positive issue with virus defs 110411-1″

On 11 April 2011, virus definition update 110411-1 contained an error that resulted in a high number of ‘false positives’ – that is, clean websites or files being flagged as ‘infected’.

Our virus lab staff discovered the problem quickly, took precautions to stop more users from getting the wrong update and, about 45 minutes after the initial update, released a fix (update 110411-2).

About 4% of our user base was affected.

Although false positives are a fact of life, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to our community. If you were one who was affected by the bad update, after updating with a current virus definition file (as of this writing, update 110412-0), you should next:

  1. Open the avast! program
  2. Select “Maintenance”
  3. Select “Virus Chest”
  4. Sort by time moved to Chest
  5. Select files you wish to restore
  6. Right-click and select “Restore”

After the file restoral, copies of the files will remain in the Virus Chest.

We hope these steps will alleviate any confusion, but should anyone need further support, please visit avast.com/support.

April 11th, 2011

False positive issue with virus defs 110411-1

Virus definition update 110411-1 contained an error that resulted in a good number of innocent sites being flagged as infected. Generally, all sites with a script in a specific format were affected.

Our virus lab staff discovered the problem quickly after releasing the bad update and immediately started working on a fix. The fix was released about 45 minutes after the problematic update and has version number 110411-2. Anyone who still has this problem is kindly asked to manually update the definitions to the latest version, e.g. by right-clicking the avast taskbar icon (the orange (a) ball), and selecting Update -> Engine and Virus Definitions.

 

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. As this typically only affected remote sites (and not local files), simply updating to the latest definitions should completely solve the issue (no local files have been quarantined).

Categories: General, lab, Technology, Virus Lab Tags:
April 8th, 2011

Communicating with clear categories in avast! WebRep

avast! WebRep combines antivirus software with website ratings from millions of users in the global avast! community – providing users of avast! 6.0 with a community-sourced guide to the safety and/or content of websites. avast! users can thus know – before clicking a link – what to expect in terms of product or service quality, customer service levels, or website safety and reliability. Ratings results are “traffic-light” simple:  green = GO… orange = CAUTION… red = STOP!

But we’ve talked about that before. This time, let’s take a look at the website categories… Read more…

April 5th, 2011

5 Questions with Lukáš Rypáček (Senior Software Developer)

I don’t know much about Lukas, other than that he is respected and liked by his colleagues (or they wouldn’t have suggested him as a potential interviewee). On facebook, I discovered he has an interest in photography. In communicating with him for this interview, I found him to be unassuming, communicative, and laid-back. Considering I’m no software developer (and only a very amateur kind of geek), I would say that those are qualities that have contributed well toward the avast! software we all use and love. –Jason Mashak

Lukas Rypacek (Senior Software Developer)

1: You’ve been at AVAST since there were only a few handfuls of employees… what, for you, are some of the more memorable moments in the company’s history since you’ve been here?

I joined AVAST seven years ago [2004] when there were around 20 employees. Some of the core team members of today were still at university, studying along with their work. You would see them in the office only once or twice a week. This was a big difference from the 140-something we have today, when we hardly fit into any room all at once. For example, there used to be a habit to celebrate birthdays together in the offices. But as the number of employees grew, we would have to celebrate almost every other week. And we also started to have problems fitting into any one room, so the tradition was abandoned over time.

Moving into a new building, the one we are now in, was also quite exciting. We watched it being built, visiting it several times before it was finished. One of the last things moved were our company servers Read more…

April 4th, 2011

About avast! 6.0: video interview with Ondřej Vlček, CTO at AVAST Software

Recently we took pleasure in hosting journalists at our Prague HQ. Among them were Wojciech Kowasz and Jakub Pawlak from dobreprogramy, Poland‘s most popular download site. avast! Free Antivirus is Poland‘s top downloaded software, with over 14,000,000 downloads!

While visiting us in Prague, Mr. Kowasz and Mr. Pawlak recorded a video interview with our CTO, Ondřej Vlček.  Mr. Vlček introduced new features of avast! 6.0,  explaining how they differentiate avast! from other AV products. If you’ve ever wondered how the AutoSandbox works, what SafeZone is, or how can you rate a website using avast! WebRep, check it out. Mr. Kowasz and Mr. Pawlak also asked about everyday’s life in our HQ in Prague, how the virus lab works, and how we detect viruses. Read more…