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August 5th, 2014

Is free antivirus better than expensive solutions?

avast! Free Antivirus is top free antivirus in real-world testing by DTLavast! Free Antivirus is highest scoring free security product for efficiency and effectiveness in removing threats and protecting PC users.

When it comes to household economics, savvy consumers look for quality products at a good price. You can’t get a better price than FREE, and avast! Free Antivirus delivers on quality as well – often better, than expensive security solutions.

A series of tests conducted this April – June by Dennis Technology Labs proved that point. Windows PCs set up like your normal computer at home were exposed to real-world malware and viruses. avast! Free Antivirus was the most effective free anti-malware product in the top 5, providing the most thorough protection with an impressive 93 percent protection level. The average protection level of the tested products was 86 percent. With the exception of avast! Free Antivirus, the products that rounded out the top five require a license that costs money. Other free products tested were much less effective.

Two distinct tests were conducted: One that measured how the products handled internet threats and one that measured how they handled legitimate programs. In the tests, Avast protected the system against 93 percent of the threats; defending the system 82 times and neutralizing threats 11 times.

Simon Edwards, technical director of the UK-based lab, said, “…products that prevented users from visiting the malicious sites in the first place gained a significant advantage. If the malware can’t download onto the victim’s computer then the anti-malware software faces less of an ongoing challenge.”

Each product was installed on a clean Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit target system. The operating system was updated with Service Pack 1, although no later patches or updates were applied. Patching improves the security of the system and we advise you to keep all software updated. avast! Browser Cleanup can help you accomplish this. This short tutorial shows you how it works.

 

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August 4th, 2014

AVAST blocks all malware in real-world test

avast! Free Antivirus blocked 100% of malware attacks in AV-Test’s “Real World” detection test.

AV-Test-June-2014Respected IT Security and Antivirus Research lab, AV-Test, put 23 antivirus products designed for the home user to the test for real-world malware blocking and detection of false positives in June. The testing scenario replicated the set-up of almost a quarter of AVAST’s 200 million users who still use Windows XP (SP3, 32-Bit, English). Just like your antivirus protection at home, the products were allowed to update themselves at any time and query their in-the-cloud services.

av-test_cert_2014_Consumer_06Avast! Free Antivirus scored 100% in protection against malware infections, such as viruses, worms or Trojan horses. AV-Test used widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, including malicious email attachements.

Avast! Free Antivirus had zero false positive detections, giving it a perfect score of 100%. False positives happen when your antivirus software erroneously identifies a file or a download as being malicious. The test included false warnings or blockages when visiting websites or when installing and using legitimate software.

Our customers are concerned about the impact antivirus protection has on their computer speed when visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs, and copying data. AV-Test measured the influence of each product in daily usage. On a scale with 5 being the lowest possible impact and 25 the highest impact, avast! Free Antivirus has minimal impact on system performance, scoring a very low 8.

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.

July 28th, 2014

Phishing scam steals Finnish bank passwords, earns big money

Earlier this month, we told you about a spear phishing campaign specifically targeting banking customers in Czech Republic, and now a similar scam is targeting bank customers in Finland.

Finnish banks warn their customers of phishing scheme.

Finnish banks warn their customers of phishing scheme.

This weekend, Aktia, Nordea, and Nooa Säästöpankki customers received text messages and emails informing them that their online banking services were being discontinued because of a payment in default. The message said the payment had to be made immediately to avoid this. The victims were then instructed to follow a link in the email where they could enter their ID and bank access codes including PIN. The victim was promised that a representative of online banking services would call to confirm after the payment was received.

So far, 500,000 euros has been stolen. Of course, there is no default payment and the whole thing is a hoax to earn cybercriminals money. Within the last month, 95 percent of the victims have been women, said Detective Superintendent Jukkapekka Risu from Helsinki Police to the Helsinki Times.

What you need to know to protect yourself

Do not click on links, download files, or open attachments in emails from unknown senders. Phishing websites often copy legitimate websites so they appear authentic. To be safe, call the bank to find out if they really sent that email to you.

Do not call the number in the email. It can easily be faked. Look up the real number of your bank and call using that.

Banks will not ask for customer names or IDs by email, text message, or phone. If you have fallen victim to the scam message and have volunteered information, please contact your bank immediately.

Protect your computer with a firewall, spam filters, antivirus and anti-spyware software. Both avast! Internet Security and avast! Premier have these important features. SafeZone is an additional security feature in avast! Pro Antivirus, avast! Internet Security and avast! Premier, which allows you to browse the web in a private, secure environment, invisible to the rest of your system. For example, if you do your banking online, you can be sure that your personal data cannot be monitored by spyware or key-logging software.

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.

 

July 24th, 2014

Mobile development start-up Inmite joins AVAST team!

logo Inmite

Inmite acquisition adds 40 mobile developers to AVAST’s growing mobile business

Our 220 million AVAST users are moving many of their online activities to mobile devices, just like the rest of the world. Cybercriminals are well aware of the shift and are increasing their activities as well. In order to better protect our current and new mobile users, we are pleased to announce that we brought Inmite, a mobile application development firm, into the AVAST family.

Through this acquisition, we are adding 40 very talented and experienced mobile developers to our growing mobile business.

“Inmite’s team consists of great mobile developers and by joining AVAST, they’re going to further accelerate our growth and expand our capabilities across mobile platforms,” said Vince Steckler, CEO at AVAST.

Inmite has built more than 150 mobile iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps for the automotive, banking, media and telecommunications industries since 2008. The company is recognized as a Top Developer on Google Play, and also developed the world’s first Google Glass banking prototype, and other ‘internet of things’ devices.

“In order to make a greater impact worldwide, we wanted to go big with a global mobile leader who believes in technologies for the future. AVAST shares this vision and is the ideal partner for us,” said Barbora Petrová, spokesperson of Inmite.

Read more on VentureBeat, Avast acquires Czech mobile dev shop Inmite, and in the official press release.

AVAST Software acquires Inmite mobile development start-up

Avast co-founders Eduard Kucera and Pavel Baudiš take a Selfie with Inmite company founders.

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.

July 18th, 2014

Spearphishing scams hope you’ll take the bait

avast! Internet Security protects you from phishing and email scamsYesterday on our blog, avast! Virus Lab researcher Jaromir Horejsi, explained a banking Trojan called Tinba. The cybercrooks behind Tinba use a social engineering technique called spearfishing to target its victims.

You have probably heard about email scams that use phishing. This classic technique uses authentic-looking emails to lure the victims to fake websites, then trick them into revealing personal information. Also this week, we told you about an email that AVAST evangelist, Bob G. received claiming that he won money in a World Cup lottery. The cybercrooks behind that scam cast a wide net, hoping to catch a few people then ask them to provide banking information so they could deliver the prize.

Other high profile phishing attempts, like the DHL email scam that ran last Christmas, preyed on the anxiety of the holidays. An email that looks like the real thing was sent, offering all sorts of urgent and legitimate-sounding explanations as to why they need your personal data. It’s not hard to understand why busy people can be fooled.

Spearphishing is similar in every way except that the net is drawn in much tighter. The FBI says that cybercrooks target select groups of people with something in common—they work at the same company, bank at the same financial institution, attend the same college, order merchandise from the same website, etc. The emails are seemingly sent from organizations or individuals the potential victims would normally get emails from, making them even more deceptive. This is what is happening with the Tinba Trojan right now in Czech Republic.

In both social engineering schemes, once the victim clicks, they are led to a phony but realistic-looking website, where they are asked to provide passwords, account numbers, user IDs, access codes, PINs, etc.

How to avoid becoming a spear phishing victim

  • Most companies, banks, agencies, etc., don’t request personal information via e-mail.
  • If in doubt, give them a call (but don’t use the phone number contained in the e-mail—that’s usually phony as well).
  • Use a phishing filter. Both avast! Internet Security and avast! Premier include anti-spam filters to detect phishing and scam emails.
  • Never follow a link to a secure site from an email; always enter the URL manually.

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.

July 15th, 2014

AVAST evangelist allegedly wins World Cup 2014 Lottery

AVAST evangelist Bob G. received a notification in the mail yesterday from, of all organizations, FIFA! How nice! Only hours after Germany earned the title of World Cup 2014 champs and was awarded with a grand trophy, Bob was also promised a reward of prize money.

Too bad, it’s a scam.

Email scams like this are a form of social engineering designed to trick people into giving away vital personal information. The email generally informs the recipient that they have been selected as lottery prize winners and have won substantial sums of money. Recipients are then persuaded to submit personal information or to part with money as an upfront payment, or forward money to enable them to enter the tender process.

Since Bob is aware of these types of scams, instead of falling for it, he made a video to inform all avast! users. Here it is.

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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July 14th, 2014

Common passwords inspire uncommon dress

password dress

Lorrie Cranor models her famous Password dress in front of the “Security Blanket” quilt.

Weak passwords make for creative design.

If you use 123456 or password as your password, you may as well wear it for all to see. It’s THAT easy to crack.

To illustrate this point, Lorrie Cranor, quilt artist, and oh yeah,  director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, designed fabric based on the extensive research she and her students conducted on the weaknesses of text-based passwords. The quilt she made is aptly named “The Security Blanket,” and is designed from a word cloud of the 1,000 most commonly found passwords from the 2010 RockYou.com hack. Professor Cranor made a Password dress to go with the password quilt. The fabric is available for purchase from Spoonflower.

Iloveyou, you little monkey

The most popular password, 123456, forms a backdrop across the whole quilt. But what intrigued Cranor was not the “the obvious lazy choices,” but what else people choose as passwords. She went through the list and organized the passwords into themes. Many passwords fell into multiple themes, so she tried to think like a RockYou user and extract some meaning from their choices.

Love is a strong theme, and the research found that love-themed words make up the majority of non-numeric passwords. Iloveyou in English and other languages is common. The names of pets are common, and Princess showed up in the top 1,000 and simultaneously on lists of popular pet names. Chocolate is the most frequent of the food-related passwords, with chicken and banana(s) coming up often.

Chicken was a surprise to me, as was monkey, the 14th most popular password. Could RockYou users have an affinity for monkeys because of a game, or do they just like monkeys? Is it related to bananas? Do gamers eat more bananas?

Some things we’ll just have to speculate about…

Swear words, insults, and adult language showed up in the top 1000 passwords, “but impolite passwords are much less prevalent than the more tender love-related words,” wrote Cranor in her blog.

Numbers are even better. Three times as many people chose 123456 over password, and 12345 and 123456789 were also more popular choices. It seems that when required to use a number in a password, people overwhelmingly pick the same number, or always use the number in the same location in their passwords.

Top 10 worst passwords

Security developer SplashData published the Worst Passwords of 2013. Check the list to see if you use any of these:

Rank Password Change from 2012
1 123456 Up 1
2 password Down 1
3 12345678 Unchanged
4 qwerty Up 1
5 abc123 Down 1
6 123456789 New
7 111111 Up 2
8 1234567 Up 5
9 iloveyou Up 2
10 adobe123 New

Tips and tricks

1. Use a random collection of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and symbols

2. Make it 8 characters or longer

3. Create a unique password for every account

Read more from the AVAST blog

Do you hate updating your passwords whenever there’s a new hack?

Are hackers’ passwords stronger than regular 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.

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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. Even though malware is not likely to affect you (yet), avast! Mobile Security & Anti-theft protects your device , plus it helps you locate your device if it is lost or stolen.

TIP: When you upgrade to avast! Mobile Premium you get a feature called Password Check. This feature keeps nosy people and data thieves from snooping around your messages or emails. After 3 wrong attempts to break in, your phone is locked.

2. Use trusted stores to install apps

Malware may not be a huge threat yet, but cybercrooks are using apps in subtle ways, so you need to be aware of what you’re downloading onto your device. The major app stores like Google Play and Amazon are the safest places to go for apps. These have rigorous vetting procedures, so they are reliable sources. The ones you need to watch out for are the unregulated third party app stores predominantly from the Asia or the Middle East.

TIP: For an extra safeguard on your Android device, stop the installation of apps from unknown sources. Go to Settings>Security and uncheck the Unknown Sources option. 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 the lock screen. To set your PIN go to Settings>Lock screen to set a pattern or passcode.

TIP: Use avast! Mobile Security App Lock to set a PIN for apps you want to keep private, like online shopping and banking apps. You can lock any two apps with a PIN/gesture using our free product; get unlimited app locking with the Premium product.

Read more…

July 1st, 2014

Avoid regrettable mistakes; proactively protect yourself

Even the most careful planning sometimes cannot mitigate human error. A week ago, a photograph of the World Cup Security Center showing the WiFi password on a whiteboard in the background was published on the internet and immediately retweeted numerous times.

Last February, during the Super Bowl XLVIII pre-game show, the Super Bowl security headquarters was shown on a television broadcast along with the stadium’s internal WiFi login credentials.

super-bowl-security-fail-620x463

These so-called “epic fails” are highly publicized examples of regrettable mistakes that every human on the planet is familiar with – because we all make them. Maybe not at that scale; but I dare say, that no one at FIFA or the NFL intentionally set out to expose themselves or their organization to danger.

It could happen to you

So let’s stop giggling at these public slip ups and talk about our collective failure at securing our own passwords and other data. Read more…

July 1st, 2014

TextSecure reclassified as a false positive

On occasion, even the most well thought-out systems can break down. In the antivirus business, we try hard to minimize something termed false positive. A false positive is merely a mistake or a false alarm. It happens when your antivirus software erroneously identifies a file or a download as being malicious.

The AVAST Virus Lab receives more than 50,000 samples of new potential viruses every single day. There are so many that we cannot look at each individually, so we use techniques with super-techie names like Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen.  (These techniques are explained in a previous blog post, New Toy in the Avast Research Lab.) When a file is confirmed as malicious, we add it to our virus database. With this amount of new samples, every now and then a false positive occurs. There is no way to avoid it completely, but we try to limit it and its impact.

Over the weekend, avast! Mobile Security erroneously detected the TextSecure app as a Trojan. TextSecure is an app developed by Open Whisper Systems that protects your privacy by encrypting your text and chat messages, which means that they can only be read by your intended recipients. The AVAST Virus Lab discovered the error, fixed it and sent out an update.

Unfortunately, wires got crossed between our Virus Lab analyst and our social media community manager, and the wrong message was sent to people on Twitter and Facebook who inquired about the detection. You see, at the same time as the TextSecure detection was being reported, another unrelated detection was made, and it was indeed a malicious file. It was a simple case of mistaken identity. Later in the day, we discovered the mistake and followed up by communicating it across AVAST social channels.

AVAST confirms that TextSecure Private Messenger is a genuine and safe application for Android, and contains no malicious scripts. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to TextSecure users and Open Whisper Systems.

Please be assured that AVAST does not intentionally recognize valid software as suspicious. The last thing we want to do is disrupt businesses or our customers. However, to provide maximum protection against genuine virus threats, false positive alerts sometimes arise.

howto2_enHow to report a suspected false positive

If you suspect that AVAST has incorrectly identified a file as suspicious, please submit a report to http://www.avast.com/contact-form.php?subject=VIRUS-FILE. This form will generate an email to our Virus Lab research team, and they will investigate it.

Before you do that, you may want to upload a file or a URL to online virus scanning service VirusTotal. This free online service scans the file against multiple antivirus engines and website scanners at the same time.

TextSecure protects your privacy

The fine developers of the TextSecure app deserve a happy ending, so we want to throw our support behind this innovative app. We developed avast! Mobile Security to protect Android users from malware and theft and have included numerous features to protect the privacy of our users. The TextSecure app takes that further by providing end-to-end encryption when you are communicating with other TextSecure users. It also keeps your messages away from prying eyes if your phone is lost or stolen.

Install TextSecure Private Messenger for free from Google Play. Don’t forget to leave a review and a 5-star rating!

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.