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July 11th, 2014

Six ways to secure your smartphone

AR AMSpost-enI bet you would be lost without your smartphone. It’s your lifeline to contacts, emails, and personal information, not to mention all those apps that you use for fun, entertainment, and business. You probably have bought something using your phone, so your credit card information is there, as well as your account log ins. In other words, it would be disastrous to lose it to a thief or be infected with a data-stealing app.

Keep reading for some solid tips that will help you secure your Android smartphones and tablets.

1. Install security software

Protect your smartphone or tablet from malicious attacks. Malware targeted at Android devices is increasing daily, and we project that it will be at PC levels in the next 4 years. Avast! Mobile Security stops malware, plus it help you locate your device if it is lost or stolen with avast! Anti-theft.   Install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft from the Google Play store, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avast.android.mobilesecurity

2. Use trusted stores to install apps

The major app stores like Google Play and Amazon are the safest places to go for apps. These have strict vetting procedures, so they are reliable sources most of the time. The ones you need to watch out for are the unregulated third party app stores, often originating from Asia or the Middle East.

For an extra safeguard on your Android device, disable the installation of apps from unknown sources by going to Settings>Security and unchecking the “Unknown Sources” option. Also check the “Verify Apps” option to block or warn you before installing apps that may cause harm.

3. Use a PIN or password and lock your apps

Your Android phone has its own security settings, so we recommend that you set a PIN number with a strong number code to lock the screen. To set your PIN or a pattern, go to Settings>Lock screen.

Read more…

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.

June 10th, 2014

Keep your phone safe from hackers and thieves while on vacation

Traveling to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, or just headed out to your local beach for a daytrip? You remember to pack your sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of sunblock, but don’t forget that your mobile gadgets need protection too.

world-cup-hackers Here’s a couple more items for your packing list:

  • avast! SecureLine VPN to protect against dodgy public WiFi
  • avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft to protect against thieves

That free WiFi HotSpot could get you in hot water!

Spectators at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will have lots of choices of free WiFi. At least 6 of the 12 World Cup stadiums have access to free WiFi built in, and planners have created WiFi hotspots across 2,300 access points, including parks, squares, and public transit stations. Fans not watching in person will check scores on their phone or watch live streaming matches by connecting to free WiFi at hotels and bars.

“A WiFi attack on an open network can take less than 2 seconds,” tweeted @ExtremeNetworks recently. Cybercrooks can access and steal your personal data when you connect to these unprotected networks. Having your identity stolen and bank account emptied out while on vacation could ruin any trip – even one to paradise!

“Hackers target public hotspots, where it’s easy to follow every move that users of the WiFi connection make, allowing them to access emails, passwords, documents, and browsing behavior,” said Vincent Steckler, Chief Executive Officer of AVAST Software.

Use a VPN service to make sure that doesn’t happen. avast! SecureLine VPN protects your privacy by making your logins, emails, instant messages, and credit card details invisible to spying.

Read more…

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June 5th, 2014

SimplLocker does what its name suggests: Simply locks your phone!

A new Android mobile Trojan called SimplLocker has emerged from a rather shady Russian forum, encrypting files for ransom. AVAST detects the Trojan as Android:Simplocker, avast! Mobile Security and avast! Mobile Premium users can breathe a sigh of relief; we protect from it!

malware, mobile malware, Trojan, SimplockerThe Trojan was discovered on an underground Russian forum by security researchers at ESET. The Trojan is disguised as an app suitable for adults only. Once downloaded, the Trojan scans the device’s SD card for images, documents and videos, encrypting them using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The Trojan then displays a message in Russian, warning the victim that their phone has been locked, and accusing the victim of having viewed and downloaded child pornography. The Trojan demands a $21 ransom be paid in Ukrainian currency within 24 hours, claiming it will delete all the files it has encrypted if it does not receive the ransom. Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Android Malware Analyst at AVAST, found that the malware will not delete any of the encrypted files, because it doesn’t have the functionality to do so. Targets cannot escape the message unless they deposit the ransom at a payment kiosk using MoneXy. If the ransom is paid the malware waits for a command from its command and control server (C&C) to decrypt the files.

What can we learn from this?

Although this Trojan only targets a specific region and is not available on the Google Play Store, it should not be taken lightly. This is just the beginning of mobile malware, and is thought to be a proof-of-concept. Mobile ransomware especially is predicted to become more and more popular. Once malware writers have more practice, see that they can get easy money from methods like this, they will become very greedy and sneaky.

We can only speculate about methods they will come up with to eventually get their malicious apps onto official markets, such as Google Play, or even take more advantage of alternative outlets such as mobile browsers and email attachments. It is therefore imperative that people download antivirus protection for their smartphones and tablets. Mobile devices contain massive amounts of valuable data and are therefore a major target. 

Ransomware can be an effective method for criminals to exploit vulnerable mobile users, many of which don’t back up their data. Just as in ransomware targeting PCs, this makes the threat of losing sentimental data, such as photos of family and friends or official documents, immense.

Don’t give cybercriminals a chance. Protect yourself by downloading avast! Mobile Security for FREE.

June 1st, 2014

Kids use their parent’s smartphones, not to call grandma, but to visit sites with adult content

Have you ever been on a long road trip with your children? Then you will agree: It’s great to have something to entertain your children, to distract them from the boring drive. Today smartphones and tablets are a great source to keeping kids occupied for long periods of time, not only on the road. AVAST has found out that four out of five parents share their mobile devices with their kids. This is the result of a survey AVAST conducted amongst 1,500 parents in celebration of today’s International Children’s Day. Children are very tech-savvy and technology can be a great teaching tool, if kids use it appropriately. However, our survey results show that kids don’t always choose the most kid friendly apps and activities while using their parents’ devices.

11 to 15 year olds seem to be the most curious – and most at risk

Many kids do mischievous things once they get their hands on their parents’ devices, however our survey has shown that 11 to 15 year olds are most likely to use smartphones and tablets for risky activities. It’s not surprising that anything inappropriate is interesting to kids; 32% of parents admitted that their child has accessed adult content using their mobile device. More than half of these kids were between the ages of 11 and 15 years old. The risk here is not only the child getting in contact with adult content, but the whole device and other family members are at risk as well: Mobile sites and ads including adult content often lead to phishing sites or sites including malware that is downloaded with the tap of a finger.

Sending messages in their parents’ name, behind their parents’ backs also seems to be a fun thing for kids to do, with 19% of parents claiming their child has hit the send button. Again, the sneakiest age group is 11 to 15 years old, 45% of messages were sent by them. If children send text or social media messages in their parents’ name, this can lead to embarrassing situations – or cause real damage, e.g. if a child sends an email from their parents’ business email address. 

In addition to this, 7% of kids accessed apps that contained banking or credit card information and 6% used their parents’ device to make purchases without their parents’ knowledge. Once again the age group 11 to 15 years was the one caught red-handed the most – 44% of the 7% of kids that accessed apps containing banking and credit card information and 52% of the 6% of kids that made purchases were 11 to 15 years old.

Many children and teenagers have their own devices

AVAST asked the 20% of parents who don’t share their devices with their kids, why they choose not to do so. Of these, 38% said their kids have their own devices, 40% think their kids are too young (between the ages of 0 to 10 years old), and 22% don’t trust their kids. Out of the 22% that said they don’t trust their kids with their devices, 11 to 15 years old was the most mistrusted age group. Despite this, of the 38% parents that said their kids have their own devices, 48% are between the ages of 11 and 15. Based on what parents caught their 11 to 15 years doing with their mobile devices, can you imagine what these kids may be doing if they have their own device?

Safety tips for kids using mobile devices

Be aware of the sites your children are visiting. The Internet contains everything from cute cats to adult films – do you know which your kids are accessing? Talk to your kids, let them know that not everything online is necessarily safe and keep an eye on what they’re doing online. Also, often apps and ads with adult content can link to malicious sites– so make sure your device is safe. Install an antivirus app like avast! Mobile Security on your phone to protect you and your family.

Lock apps that can make purchases. Any apps containing banking information or that have credit card information saved to make purchases should be password protected, whether your child has their own mobile device or borrows yours. App stores such as Google Play and iTunes make it easy to purchase apps, all you have to do is type in your account password. Even if you don’t think your child knows the password, make sure you add a second layer of protection by password-locking certain apps.

Talk to them about messaging apps. In one of our recent blog posts we discussed the importance of talking to your kids about cybersecurity, especially when it comes to messaging apps and social media. Whether they are borrowing your phone or using their own device, talk to your kids about what information they should share, who they should talk to online and how they should be talking to others.

Talk to them about the value of money. Kids may not realize that the things they order or download online cost actual money. The fact that they can’t visualize online transactions makes it seem like the things they are ordering online must be free! Come up with an agreement, either allow your kids to make purchases online if they consult with you first, or if in the instances of apps, they are free. You could even give your kids app store gift cards as their allowance.

Infographic: Here's what kids are doing with your smartphone

May 27th, 2014

How to wipe the data from my lost smartphone

howto2_enQuestion of the week: My phone was lost and there is no way to recover it. Thank goodness I had the data backed up. How do I use avast! Mobile Security to wipe all my information off of it?

We’re sorry that you lost your phone. You are not alone. Over one hundred smartphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day, but unfortunately 34% of smartphone owners haven’t protected their phone like you did. Congratulations on taking the initiative to back-up your data! We found out that half of smartphone owners don’t back up their data, even though they are concerned about losing it. (This seems to be theme – same thing happens with changing passwords.)

Many smartphone owners do not have anti-theft installed

Half of smartphone owners don't backup their data

If there’s no way to recover the device, then you are wise to use avast! Mobile Security to remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data.

Thorough wipe

Avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft has remote features that allow you to take certain actions. Wiping the phone can be carried out by SMS command. This is useful in your case when you do not expect to get your phone back and you do not want a thief to access your personal data. Read about how you can set up remote control on your Android phone.

Thorough wipe allows avast! to permanently and irreversibly delete the content of any SD card when wiping the phone. Wiping smartphones using up to Android 2.1 is somewhat restricted as a factory reset of the phone is not possible. However, avast! will try to delete as much as possible, for example contacts, call logs, SMS/MMS, browser history and SD card content, but not emails or apps.

From Android 2.2 onwards, a full factory reset is possible so you have full wipe capabilities. However, please be aware that this will also delete avast! Anti-Theft, unless it was installed as a rooted application.

The thorough wipe will take up to ten minutes, and will physically and irrecoverably delete the actual contents of your SD card. It is your choice whether to select the maximum level of security by using the thorough wipe option.

Protect your data with avast! Anti-Theft

To do a full wipe, avast! Anti-Theft needs to be configured in the advanced settings as a device administrator, otherwise applications, emails etc. will not be deleted. Download and install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft from the Google Play store.

Don’t forget to backup your data with avast! Mobile Backup. It saves your contacts, call logs, SMS history, photos, and other irreplaceable data to your AVAST Account (and, optionally, Google Drive) to ensure that your priceless data is never lost. Download avast! Mobile Backup for free from Google Play.

All SMS commands, along with a short description how everything works is explained in our manual (PDF). It’s short and easy to understand.

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 19th, 2014

How to set up your smartphone for remote control

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I just installed avast! Anti-Theft on my new Samsung Galaxy S5. If it gets lost or stolen, I know I can use remote control somehow. What do I do to set that up?

Congratulations on your cool new phone! It would be awful to lose that! Now that you have the free avast! Anti-Theft installed, you need to set it up so you can use the remote control features to control your phone via the avast! Portal or by SMS commands using a friend’s phone.

Communicate via your online account

First, make sure you set up an account on our online portal at my.avast.com to communicate with the anti-theft installation. Once you set it up, you get an overview of all your devices protected by avast! security products and you can pair the devices with the online account.

To pair your smartphone to the account open avast! Mobile Security, open the Settings section and tap on the avast! Account. The wizard will lead you through the registration or pairing process.

Once that’s done, you can remotely control your mobile devices on which avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft is installed.

Control your smartphone with avast! Anti-TheftCommunicate via a friend’s phone

Another way to communicate with your phone is by SMS commands using a friend’s phone. To do that you need to specify one or two phone numbers of friends or family members who will receive the Anti-Theft notifications from your phone.

To add a friend’s phone number, open avast! Anti-Theft and click on Friends. You can add one or two phone numbers here. Before you leave the screen, you have one more decision to make: Go to the bottom and check the box Only allow friend commands to allow SMS commands only from the specified friend’s numbers, or, if left unchecked, SMS commands will be accepted from any number. If you change your mind later, you can remove that restriction, by de-selecting the option.

SMS commands to remotely control your phone

Using the SMS commands, you can silently retrieve details of calls made and received, copies of incoming or outgoing SMS messages, you can remotely lock your phone, sound a siren or even remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data if you do not expect to recover it. You can also receive continuous GPS updates so that you can track your phone’s location.

Get avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft for free

Install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft from the Google Play store.

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 avast! Business Solutions.

May 13th, 2014

Who protects your smartphone from cybercrooks?

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop 2014

The avast! Virus Lab professionals work together to stop malware from attacking your Android mobile phone.

 

Filip Chytrý, an analyst in the avast! Virus Lab will Declare war against Android Malware, together with his colleague, Peter Kalnai, at the 8th International CARO Workshop held in Melbourne, Florida this week. CARO (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) is a technical gathering of malware experts from around the world who share case studies of mobile attacks, do real life attack demonstrations, and present plans for the identification and investigation of coordinated mobile threats.

Along with his specialized knowledge in Android malware, Filip is a really fun guy. I asked him a few questions, so that you could meet one of the AVAST professionals directly responsible for keeping tens of millions of Android smartphone users safe from threats.

DEBORAH Thanks for taking time during your preparations for CARO to meet our users via the AVAST blog. Your job analyzing Android-targeted malware didn’t even exist when you were a little boy. What early experiences with technology influenced your career path?

SAAB-(2)

Filip has worn cool shoes all his life

FILIP Define early. :) I’ve been addicted to PCs since childhood. I had my very first PC when I was 8 years old; some old piece of junk which was at that time probably older than I, but I still have remarkable memories of that time. So from that time on, I was influenced by technology. Even in my leisure activities, I concentrated on PCs. I went on to graduate from the School of Applications Cybernetics in Hradec Králové in Czech Republic.

DEBORAH  Protecting people’s desktop computers is how AVAST started, and now we’ve added free mobile security to our product offerings. How do we teach people to keep their smartphones and tablets safe just like their computers?
FILIP
Most people still do not realize that their smartphones actually have more computing power and abilities than the computer they had in their homes five-ten years ago. The capabilities of their devices are incredible. Data in portable devices may say more about you than data from your PC. You have location data there, pictures, social media information and so on. Read more…

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May 8th, 2014

Six reasons to download avast! Mobile Security on mom’s smartphone this Mother’s day!

AVAST protects your mom's cell phone

Protect mom’s precious memories with avast! Mobile Security

Today almost everyone and their mother has a smartphone, even your mom’s mom probably has a smartphone! Smartphones help us connect with people near or far, whether it be through traditional phone calls, text messages, photo and video sharing via apps or messaging services, smartphones have made keeping in touch routine, easy and instant. We share personal moments, large or small, with the people we love the most: our moms. All these personal moments are then stored on our smartphones, so it is imperative to protect them, which is why we think avast! Mobile Security is the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Here are 6 reasons reasons to back that up:

1. Antivirus: Mom has always protected you, whether it be checking for monsters under your bed or making sure you put on a jacket before you leave the house. Now its your turn to protect your mom from mobile malware monsters from getting to her data. Our anti-virus scans apps, files and SMS for malicious malware and includes spyware.

2. Anti-theft: We all know moms are superheroes that don’t wear capes, always on the go, making sure everyone is taken care of and where they are supposed to be. We also know that mom-purses are like Mary Poppin’s never-ending bag, so it wouldn’t be surprising if mom lost her phone running between work and soccer practice drop-off or if she were to “lose” her phone in her ginormous wonder bag. avast! Anti-Theft helps locate, control and lock lost or stolen phones remotely, GPS track and sound a siren alarm, making it simple to retrieve missing devices.

Read more…

April 30th, 2014

You dropped your phone in the swimming pool. Now what?

avast tips help save your wet phone

At least it wasn’t dropped in the toilet!

How to save a wet smartphone

It happened with me, I jumped in the swimming pool with my phone in the pocket. Unfortunately, it was not the first time my phone was drenched. Some years ago, the villain was the rain. I was using a smartphone app to monitor my running pace and it started to rain. Not a light refreshing rain – no, a deluge, a Heavy rain. My phone was protected, but that was just too much rain.

At that time, I didn’t know what to do and made the wrong decisions. Some modern phones are waterproof, but others aren’t, and an accident involving water can be fatal. I’d like to share these hints with you on what to do if your phone decides to take a bath.

  • The first thing you should do NOW is a backup! You’ve heard this before, but have you done anything about it? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Your photos, videos and musics, your apps and game data – everything could literally sink in water. We offer a simple, yet easy solution: avast! Mobile Backup protects your data against such accidents. Try now the free basic version from Google Play Store.
  • TURN YOUR PHONE OFF If your phone was dropped into water, the first thing to do is TURN IT OFF. And not only press the on/off button, but also remove the battery and cards completely. It’s a race against time. Each second is vital to avoid an electric shock and motherboard crash.
  • Let all the water flow freely. The best position for the phone is horizontal over a table on a dry piece of cloth. Do not rub, do not use cotton, do nothing… Just let the water drain out.
  • Dry the device carefully. After that, take a dry cloth or some absorbent paper to dry the device completely. Hold it with the screen facing up to drain all the water that could stay inside. Try not to shake it.
  • Be patient. Have a lot of patience. That’s the keyword here. Keep the phone open for a long time, at least 24 hours. Some technicians recommend to put it into a pot and fill with raw rice (or gel silica, if you have it with you) to absorb dampness.
  • After 24 hours, remove all the rice (or the small pieces of gel silica) and have patience again. Leave it open and exposed to air. Do not use hair dryers. Do not put the phone directly in the sun, because you can do more harm than good (harm to the screen, battery, or even the plastic parts.)
  • Only after other 12-24 hours you could try to put battery again and turn it on.
  • Of course, if you do not have luck, you’ll have to take it to technical assistance. But we wish you luck and that your phone will work again!

Besides getting wet, your phone can be lost or you could get infected with the ever-increasing malware being written for Android. Protect your phone for free with avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus. Get it on Google Play. Don’t be one of these careless people who neglect to protect their phones!

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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our business products.