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Archive for January, 2014
January 14th, 2014

Meet Paulius Yla AVAST Evangelist

Lithuania is a small European Union country, located in Northeastern Europe. Nearly 10% of 3,000,000 Lithuanians are protected by avast! Antivirus. Among them is one special person: Paulius Yla, an AVAST Evangelist.

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Evangelist” is the term we use for those people who willingly volunteer their personal time and expertise to help others benefit from avast! Antivirus. The most active place for evangelists is on the AVAST forum.

NuotraukaFour years ago, we organized a big meeting for AVAST Evangelists in our Prague headquarters. It was a unique, emotional meeting for both sides: The AVAST team and the AVAST Evangelists. It was an opportunity to meet people we knew only from the cyberworld – The AVAST forum. This is when I met Paulius in person. Paulius, who under the username “YLAP”  on the AVAST forum, has been helping users precisely since  January 20, 2005, 02:48:04 PM. :) During his years on the forum,  Paulius has generated over 1,800 posts and helped countless of people. But the forum is not the only space where Paulius is active. You can also meet him on Facebook sharing useful tips, so do not hesitate to follow him, as Paulius is a great AVAST expert.

We value our evangelists greatly and there are no words to express our gratitude to Paulius and the others for all their work and for being “AVAST ambassadors” all over the world. In the past we have introduced you to Bob Gostischa (USA), Lisandro Carmona (Brazil) and Charlie O. Prince (USA). It’s time to meet more of the AVAST Evangelists and welcome them officially, and thank them for helping you also on social channels. Please say “Labas” (hi in Lithuanian) to Paulius and get to know one of our experts. 
Read more…

January 13th, 2014

How to clean your hacked OpenX server

cleanup_noframeChristmas is a time of peace, but it does not apply to hackers and creators of malware. In the middle of the holidays, the AVAST Virus Lab found a new type of infection targeting advertisement servers with OpenX installed. Unfortunately, the only antivirus detecting this threat is avast! which leads to the erroneous conclusion that there is a false positive on our side, but it is actual danger.

This infection is called JS:Redirector-BJB or JS:Redirector-BJC and it has been confirmed on 930 servers running OpenX over the world. This means that at least 130 thousand people are saved by avast! from malware infection in advertisements every day, so please be reasonable and update your server as soon as possible.

Infection and consequences for users visiting a malicious website are described in our recent post about malvertising, but today let’s look at how to successfully clean, update, and secure your application. Below are the top 5 most visited and infected sites. Is yours on this list?

  1. pub.akinator.com
  2. ads.locafilm.com
  3. ads.novsport.com
  4. ads.svetplus.com
  5. 116.66.206.132

If you are using OpenX or Revive AdServer’s prior version 3.0.2 your system is vulnerable!

Below you can find a few steps that will lead you through cleaning, but updating to the latest version of Revive AdServer is necessary. Otherwise your server will still have known security flaws.

backup1. Backup Files – Download all files from FTP to your computer and scan them with antivirus. If any of the files are marked as a threat, delete it from FTP instantly. If it is possible, also backup your database to ensure calm upgrading.

check2. Check for Backdoor - Search FTP for files that do not belong there. You can find them by their date of creation (file with different date than others in the directory) or by obfuscated content in source files. You can also compare your source codes with official installation and reveal newly added files. If you are using OpenX version 2.8.10, delete file “flowplayer-3.1.1.min.js” because it contains a backdoor.

cleandb3. Clean the Database – The first step is to change passwords both for admin and for database, and also check if there are no unknown users. This will ensure no disturbance during the cleaning process. Next, you must examine tables “Banners” and “Zones” in the database. Find and delete any malicious javascript located there. Usually its located in “Append” or “Prepend” fields. The last step is to update the new database password in config, because it will be needed during the upgrade.

upgrade4. Upgrade Application – Download the latest version of Revive AdServer to your hard drive. OpenX changed its name in summer 2013 so the newest version can be downloaded only from link above. Follow the steps that you find in the article from the official pages about upgrading OpenX or Revive AdServer application.

secure5. Secure Server – After the upgrade you have only a few things to do. Check that the database and all users have their password unbreakable. Do not use any passwords from before. Do not leave any installation or old files on FTP. Change the password to the FTP because hackers could discover it too.

Someone might think “upgrading must help solve my problem,” but that’s unfortunately not true. In this and as well in many other cases, website administrators and owners must perform the described steps in order to get rid of the infection completely. Do not forget to change all passwords.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

Categories: How to, lab, Virus Lab Tags: , ,
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January 10th, 2014

Influence what we will share on avast! Facebook page!

2013 was a very productive and successful year at AVAST Software. We released two versions of the consumer products: avast! V8 and avast! 2014, celebrated our 25th anniversary, and are protecting an incredible 200 million devices!  It was a wonderful year for us, and we shared a summary of our milestones in December’s post.

2014 is already kicking and most of us has started it with great New Year resolutions: “Eat healthy”, “Regularly visit gym”, “Call your family and friends once a week”, “Quit smoking”… We, at AVAST made our New Year resolution as well. Here it is:

resolution

While the developers, Virus Lab researchers, and Quality Assurance teams are working towards this goal, we in the marketing team do our best to communicate to You -  the AVAST users – what we are working on.

You can influence what we will be talking about on our Facebook page with over 3,6 million fans! Read more…

January 9th, 2014

How to germ-proof your devices

howto2_enQuestion of the week: Can I get a cold or the flu from my computer or smartphone?

Normally at avast! Antivirus we talk about keeping viruses out of your computer or smartphone, but you asked a question that is important to all of us – how to keep the virus out of you!

Dangerous bacteria is more common on our tech gadgets than on toilet seats, according to a handful of studies.

The London School of Hygiene in 2011 reported that 92 percent of the phones they tested in an experiment were contaminated with bacteria, and 18 percent came back positive for fecal bacteria (that’s from poop if you weren’t sure.)

James Francis, a microbiologist who carried out research for UK organization Which? in 2008, tested an iPad and found that it had 600 units of Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to food poisoning (which leads to nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Ugh.)  This compared with the office toilet which had less than 20 units of Staphylococcus per swab.

He said, “A count of 600 on a plastic device of any sort is incredibly high. It indicates that some people don’t wash their hands a lot.”

Flu viruses can stay active on computer keyboards, mice, tablets, and smartphones for a couple of days, even though people have been conditioned to regularly use sanitizing wipes and sprays, said researchers at the University of Arizona.

Read more…

January 9th, 2014

Comparison of Adware in Windows and OS X: Linkular and Genieo

By definition, Adware is a program bundle which renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. In a more strict sense, e.g. for security solutions, it means an application/installer whose nature lies somewhere between a potentially unwanted application and proper malware, like Trojans or Spyware. It might use more or less aggressive methods, starting with tricks and ending with fraud, to achieve its goals to benefit its distributor, while staying as innocent as possible on first sight. We blogged about an adware downloader a year ago.

Now we focus on two selected adware examples: The first is a Windows installer called Linkular and the second is a well-known application called Genieo (with a focus on its OS X version.) Being in the wild for a few months, the detection within AV products reached only partial coverage in both cases, with very similar numbers on VirusTotal (~10-20 %, see Sources below). However, the OS X adware Genieo is additionally flagged by OS X-specific security solutions. Considering maliciousness, the Windows adware is far more dangerous and invasive than the OS X one and also more than other Windows Adware examples we usually see. Here’s the comparison:

property Win32:Linkular MacOs:Genieo
Distribution strategy Advertisement Network unknown
Software Download site coolestmovie.info www.genieo.com
Rank on alexa.com ~4200 ~3000
Masking VLC Player + Addon Flash Player (*)
Payload SpeedUpMyPC; Multiplug; Bitcoinminer;OneStep/BasicServe Codemc; Photo.it; Qtrax(**)
Forced agreement of terms of use YES NO
Change of browser start page YES YES
Persistance YES (of payload) YES
Obfuscation YES (of payload) NO
Digitally signed YES (both installer & payload) YES

(*) masking is not connected with the official site, but some of its distribution partners

(**) related to older installers; not presented anymore

Read more…

January 8th, 2014

Mobile malware a real threat in 2014

50m_enSecurity industry experts from around the world must have been looking in the same crystal ball to make their predictions for the new year, because everyone agreed that mobile exploits and malware would drive growth for the industry in 2014. Mobile attacks will include malicious software that steals data from legitimate apps, spyware, ransomware and software installed via NFC.

Ondrej Vlček, AVAST’s Chief Technology Officer, agrees with the others, and has evidence to back it up, “We see nearly 2,000 new malware samples on Android every day, and this is up from maybe 50 a year ago. It’s quite likely that the trend will continue.” He explained in an article in SC Magazine that Android has reached a critical mass in terms of penetration and market share, therefore it’s an attractive target for cybercrooks.

This news has not escaped security journalists, and many are recommending security apps to protect Android devices. TechAdvisor, powered by PC Advisor, the UK’s number one technology magazine website, recently recommended avast! Mobile Security as one of it’s Best Android antivirus: 6 best cheap and free Android security apps.

avast! Mobile Security is a comprehensive suite of security and backup tools, with a particularly strong set of anti-theft features that could well catch a thief in the act.

Digital Trends looked at three of the top Android security apps. Avast! Mobile Security was their top choice.

If you’re looking for a security solution for your Android smartphone, and your primary concern is malware and safe browsing, then this could be the right app for you.

AV-Test certification Nov2013

Avast! is a trusted choice – over 50 million devices are protected.

The November 2013 mobile security evaluation conducted by AV-TEST, certifies that avast! Mobile Security provides 100% protection against malicious apps with zero impact on your device’s performance. That means no impact on your battery life, the app doesn’t slow down your device, and it generates negligible traffic.

Read more…

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January 7th, 2014

AVAST response to open letter from Bits of Freedom

Recently an open letter from Bits of Freedom, a group comprised of 24 digital rights organizations and academics, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the US and Netzpolitik.org in Germany, was sent to security software vendors. AVAST did not receive the letter “officially,” although our company was listed among the vendors.

The purpose of the open letter was to request a clarification of our policy on the use of software for the purpose of government-sanctioned surveillance of its citizens. In other words, do we look the other way when governments or law enforcement agencies install malware on private citizens’ personal computers to collect data?

It has become very clear that governments will do anything to gain access to as much information as possible,” says Bits of Freedom’s Ton Siedsma. “Requests like these, coming from law enforcement agencies or secret services, lower the general level of protection of all users of antivirus software. The software isn’t just used by suspects, but by all of us. This is something to be very concerned about, so we have asked the antivirus software vendors for transparency on this matter.

AVAST’s Chief Technology Officer, Ondřej Vlček, responded to their questions:

1. Have you ever detected the use of software by any government (or state actor) for the purpose of surveillance?
Yes, we have had incidences where it became apparent that software our programs detected was in fact surveillance software. Although it’s not always 100% clear who is behind this, in some cases we had reasons to believe that it was distributed by government institutions.

2. Have you ever been approached with a request by a government, requesting that the presence of specific software is not detected, or if detected, not notified to the user of your software? And if so, could you provide information on the legal basis of this request, the specific kind of software you were supposed to allow and the period of time which you were supposed to allow this use?
No. We have never been approached by any government agency, but we also don’t think that this realistically would ever happen. It would be very risky for a government agency to ask antivirus companies to ignore and not detect their malware. They can’t expect that security companies would keep this information to themselves; this would therefore risk the news about their malware getting leaked to the media faster than they can think.

3. Have you ever granted such a request? If so, could you provide the same information as in the point mentioned above and the considerations which led to the decision to comply with the request from the government?
No, we have never granted such a request.

4. Could you clarify how you would respond to such a request in the future?
The security and privacy of our users has been the core of our business for 25 years. Whenever we detect malware, regardless of its origin or type, we always protect our users. This includes malware from governments and official institutions – if we detect the malware, no matter the origin of the creator, we create a solution to protect our users.

Categories: General Tags: , ,
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January 7th, 2014

AVAST (teddy) has conquered Brazil!

blogBrazil is the only Portuguese speaking country in both South and Latin America. It is also fifth biggest country in the world, according to its geographical size and in terms of population. Brazilians represent a fascinating ethnic and cultural fusion, influenced by indigenous, European, African, and Asian cultures. With the upcoming World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic games in 2016, Brazil has become a center of interest from the economical and touristic perspective.

For AVAST Software, Brazil is the most important market. An incredible 28 million users (over 10% of entire population!) use avast! Antivirus to protect mobiles, notebooks, PCs, and Mac computers. avast! Free Antivirus is well recognized, popular and a much-loved brand in the country.

For me personally, Brazil was always a country of very friendly people, beautiful language, fantastic music (samba, bossa nova, forro), and fascinating cultural mixture. It was always on my traveling A-list.  I finally took the opportunity, and the avast! teddy bear :),  and went on my dream trip.

Below is short photo diary from all the gorgeous places, we had a pleasure to visit! I hope it will inspire you to:

a) Start following avast! teddy on Instagram

b) Discover Brazil :)

c) Recommend avast! Antivirus to your friends, as the Brazilians do! :)

We started our tour visiting the most popular site in Rio Corcovado. One of the World’s Seven Wonders, Christ the Redeemer was however hiding in the clouds.  It didn’t prevent our avast! teddy from enjoying it though!

 

Rio christ

The gorgeous Botanical Garden in Rio hosts thousands of exotic plants and animals. One of them was curious Macaca, who definitely became friends with the avast! teddy! Read more…

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January 6th, 2014

Smartphones need protection in the Middle East and Africa

The mobile landscape in the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions are changing at a phenomenal speed. Nearly 526 million people in the region will have a mobile handset this year with only the Asia-Pacific region having more mobile users – both significantly more than in North America or Western Europe.

AR AMSpost-enSmartphones are the most desired devices among students and young professionals (18 to 34 years old), with the Android platform being the most popular, which means that security protection is essential.

“Especially if you are running an Android device, you absolutely need to install a security product,” said Ondrej Vlček, Chief Technology Officer at AVAST Software. “Our developers continuously keep an eye out for emerging security issues in order to invent new solutions to provide our customers with bullet-proof protection. With avast! Mobile Security we catch smartphone thieves in the act and we safeguard customer’s valuable personal information,” said Vlček.

AVAST detected an average of 1,839 new mobile malware samples a day, about 60 to 70% of which were designed to send and charge mobile users for premium SMS.

infographic-Trendingdig

Middle East consumers’ interest

What security risks do users in MENA face?

Consumers in the MENA regions are similar to other consumers in their interests. Seventy-nine percent say that they will shop using their smartphones. Games and weather apps are the most popular, followed by social networking apps. Overall, 83% of the 100 most popular apps are associated with security risks and privacy issues, therefore it is expected that there will be a growing need throughout MENA for security applications such as avast! Mobile Security.

avast! Mobile Security is the top-rated mobile security app by users in the Google Play store, by leading technology publications and by independent testing organizations. In addition to AV-Test’s certification, PC Magazine and Laptop have rewarded avast! Mobile Security with Editor’s Choice awards.

Looking for AVAST software solutions in Egypt? Softex Software House has been an AVAST partner in Egypt for more than four years, and is ready to serve you. Read their latest press release about avast! Mobile Security.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

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January 3rd, 2014

avast! Free Antivirus is the most popular download of 2013

download-2013During the launch of avast! 2014 in October, CEO Vincent Steckler told a group of international journalists, “On all the download sites around the world, this year, through the end of September, we have 143 million downloads. That’s the most downloaded product – period.”

After a few more months, the highest profile download site, CNET’s download.com, confirmed that statement with an article, Top downloads of 2013, which proclaimed that avast! Free Antivirus was their most popular app for 2013, with more than 53 million downloads for Windows and nearly 1 million for Mac.

You can download files from download.com’s software, mobile, and game libraries choosing from more than 150,000 titles. Downloads are rated by registered users, as well as reviewed by editors. The editors awarded avast! Free Antivirus 2014 four and half stars.

This year’s Avast release has distinguished itself as not just a malware or antivirus solution, but also as a full-on security monitor for your machine. It comes with great design, displaying a lot of information yet maintaining a high usability factor for the core feature of virus removal and malware scanning. ~CNET Editors’ review

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

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