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Archive for June, 2012
June 29th, 2012

New avast! antivirus software update

Late yesterday (28 June 2012), AVAST Software’s VP of Windows Products, Pavel Sedina, announced a new release of avast! Free Antivirus, avast! Pro Antivirus, and avast! Internet Security.

The new version is 7.0.1451 and contains the following totally new features:

  • WebRep now supports Opera
  • SiteCorrect module for the detection of unwanted websites

And, in addition to the new features, our developers have made the following modifications:

  • Changes in the AutoSandbox module
  • Outlook plugin redesign
  • Windows 8 compatibility updates
  • Emergency Updater
  • Improvements to Remote Assistance (support for UAC prompts, etc.)
  • Improvements to avast! SafeZone™ (protection against kernel-mode keyloggers, updated SafeZone Browser, clipboard sharing, etc.)

We offer very special thanks to our developers, our QA team, and most importantly our loyal users, who have for many years provided us with great constructive feedback. Anyone can complain, but avast! users consistently amaze us with their new ideas.

 

For more technical info, please visit http://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=100247.0

For the millions of you who have avast! already installed, just open your avast! control panel, then go to Maintenance -> Update Program

Or, you may download the new update file directly here http://files.avast.com/iavs5x/avast_free_antivirus_setup.exe

 

June 27th, 2012

Worst Data Breaches So Far in 2012

I’ve kept a NETWORKWORLD.com article open in my web browser for the last 9 days, hoping to have time to read it. Today I finally did read it, and it’s worth sharing. And, it was actually short enough that I could’ve read it 9 days ago. :)

Among the largest data breaches you’ll find: credit card companies, government agencies, utility companies, universities, and hospitals.

Read more here, initial data courtesy of Identity Theft Resource Center: http://www.networkworld.com/slideshow/52525

If your organization needs great network security, take a look at our new line of avast! Endpoint Protection.

June 26th, 2012

Are the days of handwriting numbered?

When was the last time you wrote anything by hand? Did you fill out a form or jot down items on a grocery list? Send a thank you card for your birthday gift? Online stationer Docmail asked 2,000 adults about their handwriting habits, and respondents said that it had been on average 41 days since they wrote anything by hand. It also found that one in three of us has not had cause to write anything “properly” for more than six months. The convenience of typing on a computer keyboard or entering text via a touchscreen is making handwriting obsolete.

Hasn’t the handwriting been on the wall about penmanship for a while now? Even ‘back in the day’ official or formal letters would not have been handwritten, but typed. Schools still teach printing in the first grade, and cursive in the second or third grade, but after that, kids are not required to use it because they master keyboarding (a strange term which replaced the old-fashioned term typing.) Read more…

Categories: General Tags: ,
June 21st, 2012

Panda PR tells us avast! – and 7 others – rank better than “best”

 

A press release from Panda Security, dated June, 21, 2012, properly goes straight to the point in its headline:

Panda Internet Security 2012 Ranks as Best-Performing Antivirus in Recent AV-Comparatives Evaluation

 

What the headline and accompanying ‘news’ fail to mention is that Panda scored among best-performing antivirus software in the AV-Comparatives test, but still only tied F-Secure for seventh (7th) place – coming in under Tencent (6th), Qihoo (5th), AVIRA and Sophos (tied for 4th), ESET (3rd), avast! (2nd), and Webroot (1st).

Read more…

June 14th, 2012

Symantec wants to snatch .antivirus TLD

You might have noticed the little revolution announced some time back by ICANN with respect to the new unlimited horizons in Top Level Domain registrations. Instead of the standard generic domains (i.e.  .com, .biz, .org, and so on) or country specific domains (such as .uk, .fr, or others), it is possible now to register pretty much anything. For example, www.milos.korenko – which I will certainly not do, because the registration costs is WHOPPING $185,000 plus an extra $25,000 annual fee.

Over 1,900 domains were applied for (a nice $357M business for ICANN ;) and obvious brand names such as Amazon, Apple, or BBC have applied. But I was wondering who from the antivirus industry would apply for generic TLD with their brand name. And as far as I could see, only Symantec came forward with application for .symantec and .norton. But surprise, surprise, aside from their brand names they want  also:

.cloud

.security

.protection, and (!)

.antivirus

I’m sure they can afford it, but what makes Symantec believe they have the best right to own the .antivirus domain is a little mystery to me.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
June 14th, 2012

AVAST Resellers Visit Prague

On June 14 – 15,  AVAST Software welcomes its global business partners to Prague, Czech Republic for an annual meeting. There are nearly 3,000 AVAST Software resellers worldwide, and this year we will host representatives from fourteen European countries, three countries from Asia, and three from North and Central America.

The main topic of this year’s gathering will be AVAST Software’s new line of business products. On June 4, 2012, the new avast! Endpoint Protection portfolio was launched, bringing the world’s most popular antivirus to the workplace in a user-friendly package. The launch of a business security product line is a fantastic opportunity to bring business partners together to discuss company strategy, development plans, technical and sales opportunities, and exchange business experiences.

Read more…

June 13th, 2012

avast! Free Antivirus User Wins 7 Days in Paradise

AVAST Software Announces Winner of its Latest Facebook-Based Promotion

To promote the release of new avast! version 7, AVAST Software ran a promotion for a lucky user to win seven days in ‘paradise’, an all-inclusive holiday for the winner to a destination of his or her dreams. To win, participants had to enter the promotion on www.facebook.com/avast and estimate correctly what the avast! active user base would be two months later. Surprisingly, eight participants actually got the correct number of 150,107,324 active users.

However, it was Daniel Santos do Nascimento from Maceió in Brazil who picked the correct number nearly 7 weeks earlier. “I thought of it like a maths test,” explains Daniel, “I looked at the last 6 months number of active users and used the approximate growth to estimate the probable next number – but  to be honest, I was just lucky!”

Daniel, an avast! user for over three years, decided to let his wife choose the destination, “My wife has always wanted to go Rio de Janeiro and this opportunity has allowed her dreams to come true,”

Daniel, his wife and son are now planning their all expenses paid trip and avast is now planning a bigger competition to coincide with the registration of the 200 millionth user which based on strong growth could well take place in 2012.

June 7th, 2012

LastFM investigating passwords hack

Yesterday, LinkedIn started investigating a password leak, followed by online dating site eHarmony, and now online music streaming site LastFM has announced on their blog that they too are investigating the leak of user passwords. As a precautionary measure, they are advising all their users to change their passwords immediately. You can do that here.

Yesterday, a Russian hacker reportedly stole 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords and 1.5 million passwords from eHarmony. It is not yet known if the hacking incidents are related.

It’s worth repeating the password tips my colleague Jindrich Kubec wrote in an earlier blog post.

A simple 5 step procedure for creating new passwords:

  1. Avoid anything ‘personal’ such as names and birth dates – see this list for examples of passwords to avoid
  2. Avoid overly complex passwords as you don’t want to write them down
  3. Don’t reuse passwords anywhere – leaks will happen in the future and you don’t want a single leak giving the bad guys keys to all the online services you use
  4. Longer passwords are always better
  5. Beware the phishers: always ensure you’re doing sensitive operation on the legitimate site, under a secure and verified connection. I’d also recommend never clicking on links in emails to update sensitive information Instead, manually enter the site and make changes.
Categories: General, Technology Tags: ,
June 7th, 2012

LinkedIn and eHarmony passwords databases leaked

Yesterday, password databases from two popular websites were leaked in an underground forum popular with computer hackers.  6.5 million passwords from LinkedIn and a further 1.5 million passwords from internet dating site eHarmony were divulged following attacks on these sites.

LinkedIn has already acknowledged the leak, and have said they are changing the algorithm for storing sensitive data and will  email users instructions on how to reset  password.

eHarmony has also admitted a hack and has said it members will receive an email with instructions on how to reset their passwords. Read more…

Categories: General, Technology Tags:
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June 4th, 2012

US Government, Stuxnet, and Cyber-Attacks: Caveat Coder

New reports tying the Stuxnet worm to the US government has many people asking questions. What exactly is a cyberattack? Does conducting a cyberattack have the same implications as a physical military attack? Is the US waging an undeclared war on Iran in the same way that a bombing of its nuclear facilities would have done? Is this the new face of warfare and defense?

And now there’s the recent discovery of the Flame virus. We seem to be entering an era where military and diplomatic goals are increasingly embracing the Internet and cyber tools as a vehicle with which to achieve.

One of the big challenges in understanding all this is the lack of agreed upon definitions and principles. We may refer to this attack as cyber-sabotage, while Iran may refer to it as cyber-war or even cyber-terrorism. The Flame virus would be best categorized as cyber-espionage. Without terminology that is clear and agreed upon, the classification of this action is left to be determined by the rhetoric of politicians driven by their own political goals.

There are far more disconcerting implications and considerations if the US is to conduct state-sponsored initiatives in cyberspace.

  • Collateral damage: these viruses could ‘get loose’ and inflict unintended damage. We saw this with Stuxnet in 2010, as it hit more than its intended Iranian targets because of a “programming error” (by the way: it was a “programming error” that caused all the damage arising from the Morris Worm as well, for those who remember that little event in computer history)
  • Re-purposing and reuse: With cyber-attacks, the targeted opponents will  have access to the code that was used. This is like handing the enemy the schematics for every weapon you use against them. With the code, an opponent can replicate the malware and modify it to their own needs. The only additional ‘raw material’ being programmer talent.
  • Deniability: Military personnel are clearly identifiable, and armaments all have traceable points of origin. Not so with cyberattacks. We’ve already seen this in the US, where we think past attacks came from China or North Korea, but we can’t be sure. As the US starts to employ such tools, we increase our own ability to deny our actions; war becomes a clandestine affair, which is often at odds with our democratic principles.

Paradoxically, the proponents of building up US cybersecurity defenses will suffer a setback with the US now admitting its role in Stuxnet. These proponents – many of whom are in the military or defense contractor business – had taken up Stuxnet as their cause celebre and chief argument for extending the reach of DHS, NSA, and other federal authorities into our businesses and personal lives. But the government and the cybersecurity industry can’t go clamoring for more funding to defend against a boogeyman of their own creation.