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September 9th, 2014

As Mobile Malware Hits the Million Samples Mark It Becomes More Devious than Ever Before

Mobile malware is growing exponentially. We now have more than 1 million malicious samples in our database, up from 100,000 in 2011. Still relatively young, most mobile malware has a pretty simple structure, yet it is designed to effectively steal people’s money. Newer mobile malware is, however, adapting and evolving, slowly embracing more deceitful and complex tactics to target users.

PC malware authors started in a garage, mobile malware authors in an office

Mobile malware is undergoing a similar development as PC malware did years ago with two significant differences: First, PC malware, in its early stages, was created by hobbyists and has only slowly evolved into a serious business within the last 10 years. Mobile malware, even with its simple structure, has been a serious business from the get-go. Smartphones and tablets are capable of gathering and storing more personalized data than PCs ever did – there is an abundance of valuable data to collect, including personal data and financial information. Thus, the focus of mobile malware has always been on monetization, meaning that even early mobile malware posed real-life threats to its victims, stealing money from them. Secondly, even though malware targeting smartphones and tablets is still young, it’s developing much faster than PC malware did in its initial years.

There are multiple entry points for mobile malware; apart from malicious apps placed in app stores and in-app ads linking to malicious content, malware authors also often take advantage of bugs in mobile operating systems, in popular apps or carrier billing structures. In 2013, around 60 to 70% of malware was tailored to send premium text messages behind users’ backs, a simple trick malware authors took advantage of to get into people’s wallets. The industry is catching up to malware and retaliating – carriers in the US and other countries have banned premium text messaging services. As the industry reacts, mobile malware authors start thinking of and using much more sophisticated and deceitful ways to get to people’s money.

The next generation of mobile malware

Elaborate malware, such as ransomware and spyware, is on the rise and is slowly taking control of mobile devices and the pool of potential victims can only get larger. Google now has more than 1 billion Android users. Formerly only known on the PC platform, a Cryptolocker-like ransomware has recently targeted Android devices for the first time, scaring users by holding their devices hostage, claiming to encrypt files until the user paid the ransom. Mobile spyware, on the other hand, is capable of tracking user location and a variety of other personal data, which can later be used to hack accounts or for identity theft.

We predict that with the emergence of new technologies, malware authors will find new ways of taking advantage of them. For example, as the use of new payment methods like Near Field Payment (NFC) increases, we expect hackers will change the way they go after money.

Users need to become aware of how valuable smartphones really are – not just the hardware, but the data it contains

Mobile threats are increasing – we expect them to reach the same magnitude as PC malware by 2018. However, out of the more than 1 billion smartphones that were shipped globally last year, only a small percentage are currently protected with antivirus software.

To make mobile devices safer and more secure, we need to collectively work together – the security industry, carriers, app store providers and consumers. At AVAST, we are constantly refining our tactics to detect mobile malware, to protect our users with our free and paid solutions. Actions like major carriers in the US, Brazil and the UK no longer billing customers for most forms of commercial Premium SMS messages, thus shutting an important door for malware creators, are a great initiative – and we hope carriers in other countries will follow this step, soon. Also, stricter security rules for apps on Google Play and other app stores could help make some types of malware extinct.

In the end, it’s also up to users to protect their devices and data with security solutions. People need to understand that there are new threats being built to target their mobile devices. Phones and tablets contain people’s personal treasures, in the form of data, whether that be personal information about loved ones or bank details – all of which is interesting for cybercriminals. Therefore, it is essential that people care for their smartphones and tablets in the same way as they protect their PC, the majority of which has antivirus installed.

AVAST Mobile Malware infographic

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.

 

September 8th, 2014

avast! Mobile Security quiz winners!

AVAST recently surpassed a major milestone:  More than 100 million downloads of avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

To celebrate the phenomenal popularity of avast! Mobile Security, we organized a test-your-knowledge quiz on our popular avast! Facebook page. Our goal was not only to test your knowledge and award participants, but also bring your attention to and educate users about mobile security. Our knowledge quiz wasn’t easy, but we made sure that you received a hint to answer the questions correctly. Thousands of you submitted answers to our 5 questions as well as shared your thoughts about what the greatest threat to mobile security is today.

Here are the quiz questions and answers:

  • How many Smartphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day?  The correct answer was 100! The answer was found in this blog post.
  • avast! Anti-theft helps you locate your lost or stolen mobile device. There are various methods used. Which of following is NOT one of the methods? The correct answer was ‘Communicate via your GPS device.’  The hint was hidden in this blog post.
  • Based on users’ answers in an AVAST survey, which group of people are more vulnerable to mobile malware? The correct answer was ‘Males.’ The answer was found in this infographic.
  • When was the first version of avast! Mobile Security released? The correct answer was ‘December 2011.’ The hint was hidden in this YouTube video.
  • The AVAST team demonstrated our Mobile Security product at one of the largest mobile conferences in the world. In which great city did it take place?  The correct answer was ‘Barcelona.’ The hint was hidden in the following blog post.

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Here are the results:

  • 2,400 participants answered all the questions correctly
  • 1,900 participants answered four questions correctly
  • 1,400 participants answered three questions correctly
  • 3,300 participants answered one or two questions correctly

We promised to give away 1,000 Premium licenses to participants. However, we changed our mind. We decided that we want to protect your Android phone and tablets, so we well be awarding everyone who answered 3 and more answers correctly with a  free license for the most trusted Android security product in the world! :)

Now check your mailbox and search for the email from us. It will contain a special voucher with instructions on how to activate your Premium license. It might end up in the Junk/Spam folder, so please make sure you double check it too. In the following blog post we will announce winners of our VIP #AVASTteddy and the lifetime license, so please stay tuned!

For those who didn’t succeed this time, we have also something.  Install avast! Mobile Security and Antivirus for FREE from the Google Play store, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avast.android.mobilesecurity

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.

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 25th, 2014

Win a free avast! Mobile Premium license

AVAST is celebrating 100 million downloads of avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

We want to protect your Android phone and tablets, so we’re giving you the chance to win a free license for the most trusted Android security product in the world!

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How much do you know about your phone’s security?

Do you know all the ways to use avast! Mobile Security’s anti-theft feature to track your phone?

Do you know who is more at risk for getting malware on their mobile device?

Do you know how many phones are stolen every minute of every day?

Take the avast! Mobile Security quiz and find out! Answer all 5 questions correctly (don’t worry, we’ll give you hints) and you’ll be in the running to win a free 1-year license for avast! Mobile Premium! One lucky winner will win LIFETIME protection, and 10 lucky winners will receive a rare avast! teddy bear.

Here’s what to do:

  • Become an AVAST fan on Facebook
  • Enter the quiz and answer 5 questions correctly
  • Write what you think is the most serious threat to your mobile security
  • Share the quiz with your friends

Take the avast! Mobile Security quiz now!

Make sure all the Android’s in your life have protection. Install avast! Mobile Security and Antivirus from the Google Play store, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avast.android.mobilesecurity

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.

August 18th, 2014

A look into the future of mobile hacks

crystal ball 1

Mobile malware is maturing quicker than PC threats did.

Mobile malware analyst Filip Chytry looks into his crystal ball and predicts where cybercrooks are headed next.

The majority of mobile malware AVAST has in its database comes from unofficial app stores. As we wrote about in The Fine Line between Malicious and Innocent Apps, infiltrating official app markets like Google Play is rather difficult. Therefore, it is very likely that mobile malware authors will look for other ways to hack mobile devices, which contain a plethora of valuable and sensitive information.

App servers and base transceiver stations (BTS), which enable communication between mobile networks and devices, will most likely be targeted next by mobile hackers. Man-in-the-middle attacks via app servers mean that mobile hackers may redirect communication between mobile app users and the app’s server or infect app users’ by pushing malware onto user devices via the apps on their devices.

Mobile operators should be prepared for a BTS attack, as this may be possible in the near future. Not only would hackers be able to spread malware to mobile users via a BTS attack, but infected BTS could re-route all incoming mobile data.

Another possibility is that hackers could intercept communication between mobile users and app servers. Hackers could retrieve banking details if they intercept the communication between a user completing a transaction using a mobile banking app.

Mobile malware is in its infancy; at the moment comparable to a toddler. Mobile users, security providers, app markets, and mobile operators should brace themselves for the teenage version of mobile attacks.

AVAST will continue to be one step ahead of mobile malware authors, protecting avast! Mobile Security users from malware and other mobile security risks. Download avast! Mobile Security for free.

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.

August 16th, 2014

Facebook Messenger app stirs privacy pot

Lately, you may have noticed that when you try to send messages through Facebook’s mobile app on your phone and tablet, you are prompted to download the standalone Facebook Messenger app. It’s a cool app which allows you to message your Facebook friends, send picture and video messages, and call any of your Facebook friends for free using your Wi-Fi connection. It has also stirred up some controversy about all the permissions it requires.

avast! Mobile Security protects your Android device

Messenger needs permission to take pictures and videos using your camera, record audio, directly call phone numbers, receive/send/read/edit your text messages, access the internet, look into your address book, and keep track of your precise location. When we take a look at the permissions listed on the Google Play store, there are other creepy, but not really threatening, things like preventing your phone from sleeping and controlling the vibration.

The privacy controversy that is stirring is around the question of what Facebook may do with all that data. For example, do they really need to see your address book? Don’t they already know who your friends are on Facebook?

The thing is – nothing has changed about Facebook Messenger permissions. The previous version required the same access as the standalone app. You can read Facebook’s explanation about the permissions here.

We wrote about the changes in the way Google Play manages permissions earlier this summer, pointing out that most people blindly accept whatever app developers want without question. Each of us needs to decide how much we are willing to give in order to get. But please be aware, dear avast! users, that your smartphone combined with social media is a mecca for hackers. Our lives in data are stored on our mobile devices and without strong security and some common sense, cybercrooks can harvest it and use it as they please.

Make sure you protect your devices with the proper security. avast! Mobile Security is for Android phones and tablets, and it’s free. The Application Shield keeps you safe from malicious apps by scanning them on two levels – on installation and on execution. With App manager you can see your running apps, check their permissions, and if they display ads. Download avast! Mobile Security & 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, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 14th, 2014

The Fine Line between Malicious and Innocent Apps: Part 2

Malware has increased on mobile devices 900% since 2011. As dramatic as that number is, as we explained in part 1 of this post, your Android device is unlikely to become infected with malicious malware.

Nowadays, cybercrooks use more subtle and insidious techniques to steal money and personal data from you.

hungry-ads

We explained about PUPs and snoopy apps that want too much information from you. Here are a few more sneaky methods that you should be aware of:

Information hungry ads

App developers are not the only information hungry players in the app game. Ad kits can be found in 80% of free apps. Ads are used to monetize free apps, just like websites display ads to monetize. Unfortunately, not all ad networks play fair. Some ad networks collect and share your personal data.

At the beginning of the year Rovio, maker of Angry Birds, came under fire for allegedly sharing user information with the NSA. They, however, denied this and stated that Ad Networks used by “millions of commercial websites and mobile applications” leaked information to the U.S. intelligence agency.

avast! Mobile Premium, the premium version of avast! Mobile Security, includes an Ad Detector feature. This feature provides full details of an ad network’s capabilities. Ad network permissions are mixed in with the app’s permissions, so it is difficult to differentiate where certain information is being sent and who is accessing your device. App downloaders should therefore always review app permissions thoroughly, as app developers are not the only players on the app’s field.

Empty promise apps

There are apps on the market that are not after your personal data, but are more interested in deceiving you for financial gain. These apps trick people into downloading something different than what they advertised. There are various ways this can be done with various levels of severity.

The most innocent of them being seemingly normal apps that when downloaded only display ads, not even offering the service they advertised. We found apps like this around the time of the World Cup. Games like Corner Kick World Cup 2014 displayed a white screen with ads popping up now and then. This is not necessarily malicious, but frustrating and annoying for the user. If the app had been called Ad Roulette it would be acceptable, but app developers gain a small profit from advertisers when users click on ads displayed within their app. Displaying ads continuously boosts the likelihood that users will click on the ads, thus increasing the app developer’s profit.

More malicious and misleading apps warn people that their device is infected, deceiving them into downloading either an app to remove the “virus” on their device or in some cases downloading actual malware. AVAST discovered an adult app, available on an underground app market that forced users to “scan their device for viruses.”. Subsequently, the app displayed a fake version of avast! Mobile Security, which in reality was ransomware that locked victim’s out of their devices until they paid up.

Apps that gain users by offering a solution to remove non-existent infections, on the other hand, may offer a legitimate app, like a security or other category of app, but the tactic they use to gain users is deceitful and unethical.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

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August 14th, 2014

Calling advanced Android users: Join the avast! Mobile Security Beta test!

Would you like a sneak-peek into our new version of avast! Mobile Security before the official product release? The opportunity is here.  We are looking for advanced Android users to participate in the avast! Mobile Security Beta test. This Beta test will run until August 31, so you have plenty of time to test everything. Your valuable feedback will be incorporated into our product before going public to millions of users, so your participation is vital.

Help our development team by being  part of the beta testing team. We need your input! :)

avast! Mobile Security beta testing

Android beta testers are vital to the success of avast! Mobile Security. Join the team!


Here’s how to join the avast! Mobile Security Beta test:

What we expect from you?

  • Provide us with your feedback on the new interface, with a special focus on graphical issues and issues with translations
  • Report all potential bugs you find, preferably with print screens
  • Give us your suggestions for improvements, additional features, and solutions

Where you can submit your feedback?

Every active participant who provides feedback will receive a 1-year avast! Mobile Premium license.

The new interface has already received praised from beta testers. We want to hear from you. Join the Google+ Mobile Security beta testers community now.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

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August 13th, 2014

avast! Mobile Security named Tabby Awards Winner and Users’ Choice

Tabby users_choice-2014 (2)The public has spoken! One hundred thousand votes were cast and avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus was declared the Winner and Users’ Choice pick for the best Utilities and Tools for Android devices.

The international panel of independent judges wrote about avast! Mobile Security, “One of the best security apps for tablets. Setup is quick and easy. UI is refreshing and simple yet functional. Capabilities and ease of use are outstanding. Very solid. This application is the complete mobile security package.”

The crowning achievement for the developers of avast! Mobile Security is the Users’ Choice award, given by real app users. In June and July, app users voted on the TabbyAwards.com site for their favorite app among panel-selected finalists in each category. The full list of Winners, Users’ Choice and Finalists, with links to download them, is available at TabbyAwards.com.

You ain’t seen nothing yet

The judges and users thought that the current version of avast! Mobile Security has a “refreshing” and “simple yet functional” user interface.  Well, it’s about to get even better!

Android Power Users: Join us as a beta tester and provide feedback on the new, improved avast! Mobile Security user interface. Visit the avast! Google+ page to join the beta community and learn how you can earn a free 1-year license for avast! Mobile Premium.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

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August 9th, 2014

Our pressing need for ‘now’ does not translate to a want for security breaches

instant-gratificationRecode is running a series leading from its “I want it now” piece about people who have grown accustomed to having their desires met on a whim through the aid of savvy entrepreneurs and tech innovators eager to cash in.

We can all relate to “I want it now”.

I feel myself growing impatient in coffee shops when someone has found a spot to connect their laptops or mobile devices to power points – and I have not. As we often spend hours in the one coffee shop sipping from the same latte we ordered more than an hour ago, it’s inevitable from time to time that we’ll want to check our personal affairs.

What’s happening on facebook? I should message my friend. Let’s browse my favorite news and music sites – that concert looks good, I think I’ll buy a ticket. What, my credit card has been rejected? Best do some online banking.

This type of activity in public spaces can be open playing field for the ill-intentioned: The hacker or the “steal your data” money or identity thief.

We would all agree the “I want it now” mentality does not include: ‘I want’ cyber snoops and criminals ‘now’.

We’ve heard the warnings about our mobile devices – the smartphone is a walking computer in your back pocket, and yet one that can easily be lost or stolen. The plethora of text messages, contact lists, photos, online search history – all this information can be found and used against us if it falls into the wrong hands – even when wiped (as our recent blogpost shows).

Hackers are also targeting our mobile devices with malicious malware. Read more…

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