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October 15th, 2014

5 steps to keep your SMB data protected

SMB-security

When Edward Snowden came forward in May 2013, accusing the world’s largest intelligence service of spying on US allies, people, and private companies, it became evident that electronic data is quite vulnerable. This major event even caused Russian and German government officials to consider cataloguing their data, using old-fashioned manual typewriters instead of computers. Should you do the same with your business’ data to protect it?

The only way to keep your data absolutely safe from hackers and spies is to keep it far away from computers and servers, but this approach isn’t realistic. So here are five steps that you can take to protect your small or medium size business’ data:

1)     Configure your computer network properly Regardless of the way your computers are connected in your company, via work group or server, make sure that you have implemented the right configuration. Make sure you haven’t left any gaps for hack attacks, such as software that has not been updated or free network accessibility to suppliers or all company employees.

2)     Install a business-grade antivirus This one sounds obvious, however, it is important to point out that several SMBs still use personal antivirus to protect their business data. A company that opts to use consumer security products might not get into legal problems (although this is possible), but the major issue here is the security of the data itself. Business antivirus allows an entrepreneur to manage the company’s electronic security remotely instead of being obligated to check   each PC’s security manually. With a administration console, you can check on current problems, their solutions, and in the event of an infection or unauthorized action your console can get real-time alerts.

3)     Educate your employees about online security At AVAST we receive 50,000 samples of new viruses a day. Online security is evolving, which means you need to educate your employees about the dangers of online security and how they can best protect your company’s data on a regular basis. Try to focus on explaining the concept of social engineering to your employees, what the most recent methods of attacks are, and what the latest malware on the market is. The AVAST blog is a great place to find this information.

4)     Keep in mind that humans can fail Remember that although a great part of online security can be automated, it continues to be dependable on human actions, which from time to time can fail. Minimize the risks by training your employees properly and sharing the responsibility for data security with everyone. If a mistake is made, take it as an experience to learn from as a company, rather than cracking down on one person.

5)     Encrypt your most important data Currently, SMB owners have the option to encrypt data, so that in the case of an attack, their files will be protected. Encrypting files turns the information into unreadable code and only those who have the access to the encryption key are able to restore the files to their original state. This process is not simple, which is why it is recommended to encrypt your most important and sensitive files.

In addition to these five steps, make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest data security news. If a company in the same field as yours gets attacked, it can hit your SMB quicker than you may think! Remember, the digital world has neither frontiers nor barriers!

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: SMB/Business Tags:
September 3rd, 2014

Survey shows the person you trust the most may be spying on you

People expect that they are being watched online in cyberspace, but who would expect to be spied on by the people closest to them? You better watch out – your partner may be spying on you more than the NSA: One in five men and one in four women admitted to checking their partner’s smartphone in a survey with 13,132 respondents conducted by AVAST in the United States.

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Playing detective

The survey found that while the majority of women check their partner’s device because they are nosey, a quarter of married women suspect their spouse is cheating on them and want to find evidence.

Married women are not the only ones who suspect their partner is cheating on them. The reason why most men pry on their partner is because they too are afraid their better half is being unfaithful and want to confirm their suspicions – especially if the relationship is fresh.

Caught red handed

One may think that people who snoop on their significant other to find evidence of cheating or lying are being paranoid. Unfortunately, the majority of them are not paranoid–their gut feeling is often correct. Seven out of ten women and more than half of men who turn to their partner’s device to find proof their partner is deceiving them, have found evidence. Which of the two sexes is more likely to confront their partner regarding their findings? Women. The survey revealed that women are 20% more likely than men to confront their partner with the facts.

“Picking” the mobile lock

Cracking their partner’s device passcode wasn’t necessary for the greater number of snoopers. A shockingly high percentage of respondents claimed they didn’t need a passcode to gain entry to their significant other’s device. Women did, however, have an easier time with 41% reporting their partner’s device did not have a passcode compared to the 33% of men. Coming in at a high second, both male and female respondents claimed to know their partner’s device passcode because their partner had shared it with them in the past, unknowingly setting themselves up to get caught. Read more…

Categories: General Tags: , ,
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September 2nd, 2014

Think celebrities are the only ones that can get hacked? Think again…

News broke on Sunday that nude photos of female celebrities were posted on the photo sharing site 4Chan. Along with the news came many theories and discussions as to how the hacker managed to collect intimate photos and videos from a long list of celebrities. While figuring out how the hacker accessed these intimate files will hopefully patch vulnerabilities, there are general steps that everyone should take now to protect their personal data.

Don’t blame the cloud

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One of the theories circulating on the Internet is that iCloud was hacked via a vulnerability in Apple’s “Find My iPhone” app. Kirsten Dunst, one of the celebrities whose private photos were hacked tweeted the following: “Thank you iCloud”. Should Kirsten and the other hack victims be blaming the cloud though? The iCloud hack theory is just a theory, the hackers could have gained access to celebrity accounts via phishing mails or gained passwords from celebrity insiders. The hackers could have gained access to celebrity email and password combinations through breaches like the recent eBay breach or Heartbleed, which affected nearly two-thirds of all websites, including Yahoo Mail, OKCupid and WeTransfer. If the celebrities whose photos have been exposed were affected by these breaches and used the same passwords on several accounts, including iCloud, it would have been easy for the hackers to steal their personal photos. Read more…

Categories: Android corner, Social Media Tags:
August 26th, 2014

U.S. schools give an F to 2014-15 IT budget

AVAST Free For Education saves school IT money

AVAST Free for Education protects schools while significantly decreasing IT costs for security.

The beginning of the 2014/2015 school year is here. Parents and children are ready after a long summer break, but are schools prepared for the start of the new academic year?

AVAST surveyed more than 900 school IT professionals who participate in the AVAST Free for Education program and found that in terms of technology, schools are not as well equipped as parents expect.

  • 8 out of every 10 schools surveyed by AVAST said they do not feel they have adequate funding to keep up-to-date with technologies
  • 1 out of 5 schools still run Windows XP, and 12% of these schools said they do not intend to upgrade the unsupported operating system

Failing to upgrade to the most up-to-date software not only makes machines vulnerable to attacks, but also hinders the amount of programs that can be used by teachers and students. Keeping up with the most current technology is vital, as it has become ubiquitous in daily life, making it a valuable skill for children to have for the future. Despite technology’s important place in education,

  • 4 out of 10 school’s IT budgets are slashed for the upcoming school year
  • More than a quarter of schools have a $0 IT budget for this year

Technology in schools is not limited to instruction. Sensitive information about faculty, staff, and students is stored on administrative computers. This information needs to be protected from cybercriminals, which is difficult for schools with little to no IT budget. Schools without adequate protection put local families, faculty, and expensive hardware at risk.

AVAST Free for Education helps schools by providing them with enterprise-grade antivirus protection for free, saving school districts an average of $14,285 a year. The AVAST Free for Education program saves school IT departments money they can spend on software and hardware upgrades or use for supplies and salaries.

EDU infograph August 2014

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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June 5th, 2014

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

A new Android mobile Trojan called SimpLocker 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 3rd, 2014

GameOver Zeus May not be as Over as You Think

The FBI, along with the Department of Justice, announced a multinational effort on their website that has disrupted a botnet called GameOver Zeus. GameOver Zeus has infected millions of Internet users around the world and has stolen millions of dollars.

AVAST detects and protects its users from CryptoLocker and GOZeus.

Everyone should have up-to-date antivirus protection on their computer. AVAST detects and protects its users from CryptoLocker and GOZeus.

 

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has worked closely with the FBI to crack down on the GameOver Zeus botnet. The NCA has given infected users a two week window to get rid of the malware and those lucky enough to have thus far been spared, the opportunity to safeguard themselves against future attacks. The two week window is an estimation on how long it will take cybercriminals to build a new botnet. The FBI has stated on their website that GameOver’s botnet is different from earlier Zeus variants in that the command and control infrastructure communicates peer-to-peer, rather than from centralized servers. This means that any infected computer can communicate controls to other infected devices. If cybercriminals build a new botnet, which will likely happen, the new botnet can resurrect dormant infected machines and continue to infect new users while stealing financial and personal information from innocent victims.

Do you really have two weeks, and what should you do?

Who knows how long it may take for a new botnet to emerge; it could appear tomorrow or in two weeks. People should not take this threat lightly and should act immediately. Read more…

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 22nd, 2014

The Majority of Children Have Been Asked to Share Inappropriate Photos and Videos Online – Make Sure Your Child is Protected

Kids are online now more than ever with Internet access at home, school and on-the-go with mobile devices. The United Kingdom’s four largest Internet Service Providers have collectively launched Internet Matters, a non-profit organization that helps parents keep their kids safe online. According to Internet Matters, nine in ten kids under the age of ten go online and 26% of kids between the ages of ten and 13 are online for three or more hours a day.

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Social Media 

Although there is an apparent shift in teens from Facebook to more private social networking apps, like Snapchat, it is still important to talk to your kids about privacy settings and their online reputation. Internet Matters claims that the average number of friends on social networking sites is 272 for kids between the ages of 12 and 15. Sit together with your kids and go through their privacy settings with them. This will help you get a better understanding of how social networks work and will provide you with the opportunity to talk openly about the importance of online privacy. Kids may not realize how harmful social networking sites can be to their reputation and that once something is published online it is difficult to permanently remove and can come back to haunt them.

shutterstock_144042481Cyberbullying and Strangers 

You teach your kids to be kind to others, to tell you or a teacher if a classmate is bullying them and to not talk to strangers – these same rules apply online. Internet Matters states that 60% of teens have been asked to share inappropriate images and videos of themselves. Bullies and sexual predators have an open invitation to your home thanks to the Internet. This makes it vital for you to talk to your kids about who they talk to and what topics they discuss online. Let them know they can come to you if someone bullies them or approaches them in an uncomfortable way, whether it be on social networking sites or in private chats. Make sure your kids only connect with and talk to people they know and trust in real life and never reveal personal information such as their address or inappropriate images under any circumstance.

How do your children go online? Do you use and share mobile devices in your family? Take our anonymous survey here

May 21st, 2014

Heartbleed: Almost Everyone Plans to Protect Themselves, but Less than Half of People Actually Have

Have you heard about Heartbleed? Yes? Then you belong to a minority. Following the Heartbleed threat, the bug that took advantage of a vulnerability in OpenSSL, AVAST conducted an online survey with 268,000 respondents worldwide and found that three out of four people were not aware of the the Heartbleed threat, which affected millions of sites and mobile apps.

AVAST then explained Heartbleed to these respondents. When asked if they would change their passwords after checking which sites were affected, nine out of ten said they would take action. This high number is interesting from a psychological standpoint as it shows how people think when initially confronted with a threat. People immediately plan on taking the appropriate measures to protect themselves against future threats, but how many actually follow through with their plans? In reality, less than half of people follow through with their security plans: Only 40% of the respondents who were aware of Heartbleed said they had actually changed their passwords. This number closely matches Pew’s Heartbleed report which found that 39% of Internet users have changed their passwords or canceled accounts.

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“This kind of thing never affects me”

Many respondents, both those aware and unaware of the threat, said they don’t want to change their passwords because they don’t believe their accounts have been compromised. This makes one wonder if the 41% of respondents who were aware of the threat, but don’t believe they have been affected, either think the media has exaggerated the issue – or if they have a “this kind of thing never affects me” attitude. One in ten respondents believes that the next security breach will happen soon and they therefore don’t see the point in changing their passwords. This laissez-faire attitude could be caused by the fact that many have not seen concrete repercussions of the threat or have not yet been directly notified of the threat by the platforms they use. One of the most concerning facts revealed by the survey is that many people lack the know-how to protect themselves. One in ten respondents hasn’t changed their passwords because they don’t know how to change them. 

Furthermore, almost half of both respondents, aware and unaware of the threat, said they would change their passwords once the affected platforms have implemented patches and informed them of the changes.

Passwords are like keys that protect our sensitive data online, just as locks protect the precious objects in our homes. It is recommendable to stay away from affected sites that have not yet issued patches. Once sites have implemented the necessary fixes, passwords should be changed and strengthened with the same manner of urgency as you would change the locks on your home if you were to lose your keys or if your key were to get stolen.

Use a password manager to protect all of your accounts with ironclad passwords 

Changing and memorizing new passwords over and over again isn’t easy, especially since passwords should consist of at least eight characters – or according to latest recommendations even sixteen or more. They should include a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

A password manager like our avast! EasyPass helps encrypt and protect personal information online. avast! EasyPass creates strong, random passwords of up to 512 characters and secures your information via military-grade encryption, making password management simple and secure. avast! EasyPass is currently available at a discounted price of  $9.99 a year.

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 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…