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June 20th, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 and other popular phones vulnerable to “TowelRoot” Android exploit

avast! Mobile Security detects TowelRoot exploitsavast! Mobile Security protects from an Android flaw which leaves nearly all new smartphones and tablets vulnerable to attack.

Last week, a wave of articles about a newly discovered Android security flaw flooded the Internet. They sounded a warning, similar to this:

“A flaw in the Android operating system may leave many Android phones and tablets vulnerable to attack, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Google’s own Nexus 5,” reported Jill Scharr in a Tom’s Guide article.

Our Virus Lab did not waste  time and started preparing for the inevitable attacks. AVAST researchers dug into the subject looking for malware to make  sure that avast! Mobile Security is ready to protect our users. If you are an avast! user and your tablet or smartphone is protected by avast! Mobile Security, you are protected.

“Even though TowelRoot is not malicious itself, it may be misused as an exploit kit. Generally, TowelRoot can be used as a delivery package for malicious applications,” explained  Filip Chytry, an AVAST Virus Lab expert on mobile malware. “It’s capable of misusing a mistake in Android code which allows attackers to get full control over your Android device. TowelRoot itself is more a proof-of-concept, but in the hands of bad guys, it can be misused really quickly. For this reason we added it to our virus signatures, so Avast detects it as Android:TowelExploit.”

Android has not made an official statement on the security flaw, however our researchers confirm that even the latest versions of the operating system are exposed (version 4 and all higher). It is very likely that versions 3.0 can be attacked, too. For those who just purchased an Android device or don’t have protection yet, we strongly recommend that you install avast! Mobile Security, before taking any further actions. Despite the fact that some of the mobile providers claim that their devices are immune to this particular Android exploit, it is highly risky to leave your device unprotected.

What is the TowelRoot Android vulnerability?

Earlier this month a security flaw in Linux, the operating system which Android is based upon, was discovered by a young hacker known as “Pinkie Pie.” Soon afterwards, a gifted teenager, notable because he was the first to unlock the unlockable –  an iPhone at the age of 17, prepared a tool kit for potential hackers. Its instructions are available publicly to “purchase,” allowing even less advanced programmers to write a script that will use the exploit.

The potential exists for hackers to take full control; to simply root your device. So far the AVAST Virus Lab has not observed any massive attack, however knowing about the potential risk, our Virus Lab is ready for the attack. avast! Mobile Security is capable of discovering different variations of malware code required to exploit the bug.

Who is exposed and how to protect yourself?

Basically everyone who owns an Android device without proper antivirus protection, tablet or mobile phone, with any version of Android OS, including the newest one is at risk for malware.

In order to prevent this exploit, or any other malware attack, once you purchase your device, we advise to install antivirus first, before installing any apps, importing contacts, or starting to browse online. Our avast! Free Mobile security, as well as its Premium version are available to download and install from Google Play.

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.

May 1st, 2014

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer (and Windows XP too!)

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer bugWe informed you a few days ago about a new vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over your PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11. AVAST took immediate action and issued a new definition update which addresses this specific vulnerability and protects our users running Internet Explorer.

Today Microsoft announced that they would release a security update to address the issue affecting Internet Explorer.  Most customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. Microsoft advised those manually updating, to apply this update as quickly as possible, “now is the time,” wrote spokesperson Dustin Childs in the bulletin.

To enable Automatic Update, open the Control Panel, go to the Windows Update and click the “Check for Updates” button. Find detailed instructions here.

AVAST continues to support Windows XP users.In a surprise move, Microsoft also decided to issue a security update for Windows XP users. If you read this blog, you know that support was discontinued on April 8, and you are also aware that AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users.

This doesn’t mean that Windows XP support will start up again. In fact, Microsoft encourages “customers to migrate to a modern operating system.”  On a company blog today, an executive wrote about Windows XP, “… the reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade.”

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. We suggest you make the switch to Google Chrome.

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

April 29th, 2014

Internet Explorer users: AVAST has got your back – for FREE

AVAST protects users running Internet Explorer.

Avast antivirus protects agains the Microsoft® Internet Explorer bug
Microsoft announced a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over a PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 and was published under the name CVE-2014-1776. Out of all the Internet Explorer users, Windows XP users are most vulnerable as Microsoft recently stopped supporting the operating system and will therefore not issue any security patches, including one to fix this problem.

AVAST gave its word to Windows XP users that it would continue to protect them: AVAST has issued a new definition update which addresses this specific Internet Explorer vulnerability, protecting its users running Internet Explorer.

Windows XP users browsing on Internet Explorer in even more danger

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft ended its support for Windows XP, terminating automatic updates to the operating system, and even worse it will stop providing anti-malware signature updates as of next year. It’s remarkable that it has only been three weeks since the cut off and its users are already being confronted with a major security flaw, which will affect and put Windows XP Internet Explorer users at risk the most… Will this now make Windows XP users migrate?

Windows XP users: We promised we wouldn’t leave you hanging

Prior to the Windows XP support end date, AVAST committed to supporting Windows XP by creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover XP vulnerabilities and security problems for at least the next three years. Currently 45 million of our more than 200 million customers use Windows XP. Of those 45 million, more than 20% run Internet Explorer and our latest update 140428-1 covers them from the CVE-2014-1776 Internet Explorer vulnerability. Even with the update, we urge Windows XP users migrate from Internet Explorer to another browser. The latest version of Internet Explorer available on Windows XP is version 8, making it outdated and lacking a number of security improvements that were already unavailable before the official support end date. We recommend Google Chrome as an alternative to Internet Explorer, as it is fully compatible with Windows XP, updating itself automatically.

Explore the Internet with caution

Windows XP users aren’t the only ones at risk. We recommend users always use caution and think twice before opening any links. This particular flaw accesses deleted or misplaced objects in memory, thus corrupting the browser’s memory address space. This in turn gives attackers the opportunity to execute code remotely by hoaxing users via email or instant message to visit sites specifically designed to exploit the vulnerability. Once Internet Explorer users click on the malicious link, attackers can gain the same user rights as the person currently logged into Windows. This means if someone clicks on the link while logged into Windows in the administrator account, the attacker would have full administrative control over the PC and the data on it.

AVAST supports everyone

AVAST believes that everyone has the right to protection while using the Internet and therefore offers Windows and Mac users free antivirus. We are devoted to supporting all of our customers and do not believe in turning our backs on Windows XP users. All AVAST Antivirus users with virus definitions 140428-1 or newer are protected against the CVE-2014-1776 vulnerability.

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.

April 21st, 2014

So you’re sticking to Windows XP? Here’s how to protect yourself.

It’s the end of Microsoft support, not the end of the world.

AVAST continues to protect Windows XP users.

Abandoned, rusting and full of holes.

For more than a year, Microsoft informed and reminded users to upgrade from Windows XP before their support expired. They warned users that they would be subject to “zero-day” threats forever more. But, even with all that, nearly 30 percent of internet-connected PCs continue to run Windows XP.

We asked our own users, and about 47 million of you stated that you are going to stay with your Windows XP operating system, despite the fact that Microsoft has pulled the plug on updates and support for the aging OS.

Alrighty, then. What now? How do you protect yourself against the coming threats?

Tips to keep yourself protected while still hanging on to Windows XP.

  • Buy a new computer as soon as you can. You can’t escape that one day that will be your only choice. So throw your left-over coins in a jar to start a new PC fund.
  • Clean up your old computer. If you want to keep the old laptop running as long as possible, then clean out the clutter and bloat that slowed it down over the years. avast! GrimeFighter is way cheaper than a new PC, and can breathe new life into your old one.
  • Upgrade the software that you have, but make sure it works with your system (remember, Windows XP is old, and software has moved on.) Make sure to apply any patches to the software you are using to avoid vulnerabilities. avast! Software Updater can help you with that.
  • Ditch Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and use a browser that offers the most advanced security and support. We suggest Google Chrome. They will continue supporting Windows XP until at least April 2015.
  • Use antivirus software and keep it updated. You don’t have to buy an expensive suite – avast! Free Antivirus works just fine, and we pledge to support Windows XP users for the next 3 years.
  • If you don’t need it, lose it.  Remove insecure software that you don’t use, like the Java browser plug-in.
  • Get offline or stay away as often as you can. If you’re disconnected from the network, the cybercrooks can’t find you. And you can be guaranteed they’ll be looking.

AVAST has got your back

AVAST’s COO, Ondrej Vlcek, explained about the dangers of staying with Windows XP in Another Data Breach Crisis Looms as Microsoft’s D-Day for XP Forces Security Scramble, but he also had some good news for users hanging on.

AVAST is devoted to protecting the PC ecosystem by not only supporting Windows XP for at least the next three years, but also by creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover Windows XP vulnerabilities and other security problems.

Tell other Windows XP users

Let you friends know that AVAST is protecting Windows XP. Lots of small business owners and people with older PCs and laptops are still running the OS. We can help keep them protected.

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.

April 14th, 2014

Windows XP users sticking to the OS despite support cutoff

The majority of AVAST customers running Windows XP said they will rely on AVAST to protect them.

 

Last month Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer of AVAST, shared his opinion on the end of Windows XP support by Microsoft, revealing that 23.6% of AVAST’s over 200 million users were still using Windows XP. Since then less than 2% of AVAST Windows XP users have parted ways with the operating system. We conducted a global survey just days before the support end date to find out how aware our Windows XP users were of the support cutoff and what they were planning on doing.

AVAST protects Windows XP usersHow aware were Windows XP users that their support was expiring?

Months ago Microsoft announced that it would no longer support Windows XP, sending daily warning messages to XP users a month before the end date, April 8, 2014. The media, especially technology-focused media, has been buzzing about the end of support. Our survey found that 21% of Windows XP users were unaware that Microsoft would be ending support, despite Microsoft’s efforts and the media attention around the topic.

What actions were Windows XP users planning on taking?

Although Microsoft recommends upgrading the operating system as the first option home XP users should take to protect themselves, AVAST found that only 15% of XP users were planning on upgrading their OS. The second option Microsoft suggests is for XP users to purchase a new PC, as many of the newer operating systems aren’t compatible with older devices. This does not seem like a popular option for many XP users, which is understandable considering the costs that come with purchasing a new PC. Only 5% of Windows XP users plan on purchasing a new PC. The majority of AVAST customers running Windows XP said they will rely on AVAST to protect them.

Windows XP post 2_April 2014How faithful Windows XP users should protect themselves.

The survey also revealed that 27% of Windows XP users were not planning on doing anything. As AVAST users they are protecting themselves since we will continue to support Windows XP users for at least the next three years. This number is relatively high considering the security risks involved with the OS and makes one wonder how many XP users are not concerned about their protection and aren’t planning on upgrading their OS, buying a new PC or seeking AV that will support them. AVAST has been creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover Windows XP vulnerabilities and other security problems. We recommend non-AVAST Windows XP users download AVAST for the added protection. avast! 2014 is a light product, both in terms of speed and resource consumption, tailored for older PCs running XP. In addition to this, we recommend users stop using Internet Explorer, as the browser poses an even larger threat when used on Windows XP. The latest version of Internet Explorer for Windows XP is 8, which is outdated and lacks many security improvements available in later versions of the browser. We recommend XP users switch to a safer browser that updates itself, like Google Chrome.

1) Percent of global AVAST users using Windows XP

Related post: AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users

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: General Tags: , ,
March 17th, 2014

Another Data Breach Crisis Looms as Microsoft’s D-Day for XP Forces Security Scramble

win-xp-infographicOpinion by Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operations Officer at AVAST Software

The termination of security updates by Microsoft to Windows XP will create severe security issues. The already rather unsafe operating system will face even more risks with the missing security updates, but the question is: Should Windows XP users be the only ones worried?

Microsoft recently announced that technical support will no longer be available for Windows XP as of April 8, 2014, ending automatic updates for the operating system. Microsoft will also eventually stop providing anti-malware signature updates to XP users, in 2015. Abandoning Windows XP is a big mistake, especially since Microsoft has not been very successful in transitioning XP users to newer systems. The AVAST database shows that 23.6% of its more than 200 million users is still running Windows XP.

XP users more susceptible to attacks than Windows 7 users

The abandonment by Microsoft will not only affect Windows XP users, but will create a big security problem for the whole ecosystem. Tens of millions of PCs running XP connected to the Internet, unpatched and without security updates, are just waiting to be exploited. The vulnerable OS will be an easy target for hackers and be seen as a gateway to infect other non-XP operating systems. Our telemetry data shows that XP users are 6 times more likely to get attacked than Windows 7 users and once Microsoft stops issuing patches, this can worsen.

The next Target-like attack is brewing

Home users are not the only ones who will be affected by the Windows XP support cutoff, according to reports*, 95% of ATMs in the world still run on Windows XP. These ATMs along with businesses still using Windows XP on their PCs need to be updated, or at the very least seek alternative protection. Medical offices that store confidential patient information and stores that keep customer details, such as credit card numbers, on their computers running Windows XP could easily be attacked. The Target data breach last year was conducted through a trojan that attacked the shops’ point of sales system. If businesses don’t keep their systems safe, we will, unfortunately, see more of data breaches like this. The news of the XP support cutoff was published a year ago, which means that IT professionals should be well aware of the change and the consequences it will have. For those who haven’t taken action yet, the time is now.

AVAST is devoted to protecting the PC ecosystem by not only supporting Windows XP for at least the next three years, but also by creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover Windows XP vulnerabilities and other security problems. We have already taken additional steps in our latest product release, avast! 2014, by making the product lighter, both in terms of speed and resource consumption, tailoring it for older machines still running Windows XP. In addition to the security value, avast! 2014 is offered for free, which is especially important for XP users. Upgrading to a newer version of Windows comes with costs, costs that not everyone can afford and is probably a big reason why many users haven’t upgraded yet.

Another reason to ditch Internet Explorer

In addition to Windows XP itself being a security risk, Internet Explorer on Windows XP poses an even larger threat. The latest version of the browser available on Windows XP is version 8, making it outdated and lacking a number of security improvements available in its later versions. Of our existing Windows XP user database, 21.5% run Internet Explorer, leaving themselves open to easy attacks. Google Chrome is a good alternative and is fully compatible with Windows XP, updating itself automatically.

Windows XP users will not be the only ones affected by the end of updates by Microsoft and should not be the only ones worrying about the end date. Users still running Windows XP need to act both proactively and responsibly to ensure safety for not only their own data and PC, but for that of others as well.

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.

March 12th, 2014

AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users

800px-Microsoft_Windows_XP_logo_and_wordmark.svgIn “internet years” Microsoft’s Windows XP has been around for eons. It was released in August 2001, and in less than one month, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will cease to provide support and security updates. The security updates patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware and help to keep users and their data safe. Because of the continued use of XP in homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and ATMs around the world, this has the potential to create massive security issues.

AVAST will continue to support Windows XP users by creating protection modules and detections to cover vulnerabilities and other security problems for at least the next three years. Our latest version, avast! Free Antivirus 2014, works well with older machines running Windows XP because of its light footprint, speed, and negligible resource consumption, making it a perfect choice even for older machines running Windows XP. AVAST protects more XP users than anyone else. You can get it free now! Download avast! Free Antivirus.

What does this mean for businesses around the world?

The end of Microsoft support means you will no longer get security updates or new support information updates for Windows – for free.  Very large customers will have an option to subscribe to a program called “Custom Support,” an after-retirement support contract, but this is not available for SMBs or individual home users.

In an informal survey of AVAST partners, we learned that many businesses still use Windows XP and have delayed upgrading because of budget limitations as well as software and hardware compatibility issues.

Frank Mayer, an AVAST partner in Greece said that most of his customers are still using Windows XP, but because of the ongoing financial crisis in the country, “I see no change in the near future. In this crisis, no one easily spends money on new PC’s and /or Operating systems.”

“In Romania, most computers in public institutions still use Windows XP, and about 75% of them cannot support an upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 due to hardware limitations,” said Claudiu Chirita of Easy Media SRL. “The same situation is present in the SOHO segment where software upgrades will involve hardware upgrades or replacement.

How many still use Windows XP? What’s the risk? Read more…

February 24th, 2014

avast! SecureLine VPN protects you from the Apple Exploit

A major Apple security flaw allows cybercrooks and spies to grab personal information like email, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data. Apple confirmed researchers’ findings that the same SSL/TSL security flaw fixed with the latest iOS 7.0.2 update is also present in notebook and desktop machines running OS X.

Please apply the patches as advised in this post.

It is clear that we need constant protection to cover flaws that will always exist; flaws that we are not even aware of. Reuter‘s reported that

The bug has been present for months, according to researchers who tested earlier versions of Apple’s software. No one had publicly reported it before, which means that any knowledge of it was tightly held and that there is a chance it hadn’t been used.

But documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden showed agents boasting that they could break into any iPhone, and that hadn’t been public knowledge either.

It’s very public now, and that means the race is on between cybercrooks to exploit the flaw and Apple to fix it. You are exposed until the bugs are identified by the vendor, a patch is created, and it’s pushed out or you install it. Your vulnerability increases when you use public WiFi Hotspots.

Your best protection is constant protection

ios-vpn (1)

 

It’s precisely because we put ourselves at risk by using free WiFi, and we don’t know when the next security crisis is coming that we need constant protection. SecureLine VPN is that protection. Read more…

Categories: General, Mac Tags: , , , , , ,
February 12th, 2014

Frustrating user experience from a shady download portal

frustrationWe received a message from a customer informing us that when she installed avast! Free Antivirus, she also got an unwelcome toolbar installed from Conduit. After an investigation, we found that there are some shady characters providing our popular free antivirus protection with unwanted toolbars and other scams. Thomas Salomon, head of AVAST Software ‘s German Software Development team, looked into it further.

Today I was informed that some download portals have wrapped our avast! Free Antivirus with their own installer using our logos and brand name without even asking. From past experience, I know that this typically causes a lot of trouble and annoys users. So I thought to myself: OK, let’s be “John Doe” and test it out.

Unfortunately the experience I had was even worse than expected…

Download

First, I needed to think how a typical user would download avast! Free Antivirus. I guessed that it might be to simply type “avast download” into the search engine of his choice. I used Google in this case, and it came up with our own (avast) download page on top and some ads in the right column. These ads looked suspicious to me, but it’s possible that some users would be convinced to download avast! from these sites. One click later, I ended up at a site called softm8.com. I quickly spotted and clicked the avast! download option. Interestingly, the download was pretty small – actually too small to be an official avast! Antivirus installer. Anyway, I continued in my role as “John Doe” and ran the installer.

The experience begins

After starting the downloaded file it took a second or two for Windows to check the signature. Next, I noticed that the program I just downloaded was not issued by AVAST Software but by a company called “AVSoftware EOOD”.  This is definitely not us:

1

Ideally, this small piece of information would give someone the first hint that the software is not what he expects, therefore he should probably abort the download. For the experiment’s sake,  I continued by clicking “Run.” As a result, I ended up in a non-AVAST installer:

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Read more…

Categories: General Tags: ,
February 7th, 2014

AVAST expands into the USA (with a little help from our friends!)

CVC partnershipAVAST is gearing up to expand further into the US market. With nearly 14 million active avast! Antivirus users in the USA, some would call that a success, but we see it as an opportunity to protect American’s online lives and multiple devices in a bigger way. With the announcement of a new investment in the company from CVC Capital Partners, as well as a heightened awareness of the importance of security and privacy issues in everyday life,  we are energized to expand our global reach with an emphasis on the US and mobile security.

So why the renewed commitment to grow in the US?

“AVAST is the undisputed global leader in consumer PC antivirus and a pacesetter in mobile security – but we’re not yet number one in every market,” said Vince Steckler, CEO of AVAST. “CVC gives us the resources to become the number one PC security provider in the US and Asia, and the clear market leader in mobile security.”

CVC Capital Partners, ranked by Forbes as the 2nd best private equity firm in the world, has recently committed to a major investment in AVAST. The investment values AVAST at $1 billion and sends a strong message about their belief in the management team and our strategy going forward.

In a joint statement from AVAST and CVC, Lorne Somerville, Partner and Head of TMT at CVC Capital Partners, and Siddharth Patel, Managing Director, TMT, at CVC Capital Partners summed up the confidence the investors have saying, “AVAST’s focus on customer experience, best-in-class technology, and rapid growth in mobile set it apart from any other security software company. Furthermore, we firmly believe in its ability to offer more and more to its 200 million users, driven by the philosophy that its free products should be better than the paid products offered by others.”

AVAST antivirus products protect more than 200 million users in 40 languages. The extreme popularity of avast! Free Antivirus makes it the world’s most popular PC security software, guarding nearly 170 million PCs from malware. Our mobile anti-theft and antivirus product, avast! Mobile Security, has rapidly become one of the world’s most popular Android security products and protects nearly 40 million Android devices.

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.