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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 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.

parents, online safety, protection

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.

Heartbleed, free antivirus, password, security

“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…

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 27th, 2014

How does avast! SafePrice work?

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I am a long time avast! Antivirus user. After a recent update, I was surprised to see something new called SafePrice. I can’t find any information on it. Please explain what it is (and also how to remove it.)

Thanks for asking. We have received some questions and comments regarding the new avast! SafePrice and its functions, so we’ll clarify what SafePrice does and how we protect your data.

SafePrice is a part of the avast! Online Security browser extension. The purpose of this feature is to help you find the best offers among participating trusted shops and to notify you about cheaper offers by displaying a small bar on the top of your browser. This ensures that you do business with trusted vendor sites, and save time by having better offers on products presented to you, rather than searching for them manually.

All personally identifiable information removed in real time

SafePrice communicates data with our server; specifically the products you are searching for, and the URLs of the shopping sites you visit. All personally identifiable information is stripped from this data in real time, as it comes into our servers, so that the data is completely anonymous. We then check for more favorable prices or coupons with our third party partner, Ciuvo. Ciuvo never receives any of our users’ personally identifiable information.

How can I deactivate SafePrice?

When SafePrice is initially installed, you are shown a welcome layer which explains SafePrice’s functions, including how to permanently deactivate it. If you don’t want to receive SafePrice recommendations, you can disable them directly in the settings of the avast! Online Security web browser protection plugin. In the browser plugin’s settings there is a menu where you can remove the check-mark next to SafePrice, permanently deactivating it.

Ask a question

If you have a question about any of AVAST’s products, please send them to wannabesocial@avast.com. If we answer your question, we will send you an avast! Teddy Bear.

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: How to Tags: ,
February 13th, 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: Love shouldn’t spam your inbox, it should spam your heart

heartVday2014Love is in the air! People are going out to buy boxes of chocolates and flowers for their loved ones, preparing for romantic dinners, and some are hoping that a secret admirer will confess their love. Some seek help from the Internet to make Valentine’s Day as romantic as possible and since many people check their emails first thing in the morning, spammers and other cybercriminals see this as the perfect opportunity to attack.

The ILOVEYOU virus from 2000 did just that, although it was sent on May 5th, not on Valentine’s Day. The virus, a computer worm also referred to as “Love Letter,” originated from the Philippines and was sent via email with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.” The virus went viral when users opened the “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs” attachment included in the email. The opening of the attachment activated the viral basic script, damaging the user’s computer, overwriting image files, and sending copies of itself to addresses in the user’s Microsoft Outlook address book. The virus reached the U.S. on Friday morning, just as people were checking their emails. Since it was sent from someone they knew, and we didn’t have the collective experience of viral spam yet, people trusted the email and opened the attachment. Perhaps they were excited to receive a love letter?

Read more…

January 27th, 2014

Essentials packing list for FETC attendees

The AVAST Free for Education team is excited to be attending FETC 2014 in Orlando, Florida for the first time! As part of our preparations we’ve been making an essentials packing list, which we thought we’d share with you…

boothPersonal essentials

  • Comfy spring clothes We checked the weather report and were excited to see that it’s going to be warmer than the snow we have in Europe at the moment. No winter coats for us.
  • Suitable shoes We know that there will be plenty of walking and standing, possibly some skipping too (depends on our mood), super comfy shoes are one of our “must-have” items!
  • DEODORANT The days at the conference will be long, so we want to smell our best at all times!
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste We don’t want to scare any of our booth visitors off and plan on showing off our pearly whites as much as possible.
  • Passport/Identification We won’t name names, but we’ve seen first-hand how an out of date passport can pretty much render you useless for an international business trip :)
  • Currency Maybe you don’t have to worry about converting your money, but we sure are looking forward to carrying around some green “Benjamins” (okay, maybe more like some “Andrews”, and “Alexanders”)
  • Itinerary We’ve downloaded the FETC app, which we think is especially useful for planning your exhibition schedule (don’t forget to put booth #356 on your schedule!)

Conference essentials Read more…