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May 27th, 2014

How to wipe the data from my lost smartphone

howto2_enQuestion of the week: My phone was lost and there is no way to recover it. Thank goodness I had the data backed up. How do I use avast! Mobile Security to wipe all my information off of it?

We’re sorry that you lost your phone. You are not alone. Over one hundred smartphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day, but unfortunately 34% of smartphone owners haven’t protected their phone like you did. Congratulations on taking the initiative to back-up your data! We found out that half of smartphone owners don’t back up their data, even though they are concerned about losing it. (This seems to be theme – same thing happens with changing passwords.)

Many smartphone owners do not have anti-theft installed

Half of smartphone owners don't backup their data

If there’s no way to recover the device, then you are wise to use avast! Mobile Security to remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data.

Thorough wipe

Avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft has remote features that allow you to take certain actions. Wiping the phone can be carried out by SMS command. This is useful in your case when you do not expect to get your phone back and you do not want a thief to access your personal data. Read about how you can set up remote control on your Android phone.

Thorough wipe allows avast! to permanently and irreversibly delete the content of any SD card when wiping the phone. Wiping smartphones using up to Android 2.1 is somewhat restricted as a factory reset of the phone is not possible. However, avast! will try to delete as much as possible, for example contacts, call logs, SMS/MMS, browser history and SD card content, but not emails or apps.

From Android 2.2 onwards, a full factory reset is possible so you have full wipe capabilities. However, please be aware that this will also delete avast! Anti-Theft, unless it was installed as a rooted application.

The thorough wipe will take up to ten minutes, and will physically and irrecoverably delete the actual contents of your SD card. It is your choice whether to select the maximum level of security by using the thorough wipe option.

Protect your data with avast! Anti-Theft

To do a full wipe, avast! Anti-Theft needs to be configured in the advanced settings as a device administrator, otherwise applications, emails etc. will not be deleted. Download and install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft from the Google Play store.

Don’t forget to backup your data with avast! Mobile Backup. It saves your contacts, call logs, SMS history, photos, and other irreplaceable data to your AVAST Account (and, optionally, Google Drive) to ensure that your priceless data is never lost. Download avast! Mobile Backup for free from Google Play.

All SMS commands, along with a short description how everything works is explained in our manual (PDF). It’s short and easy to understand.

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 26th, 2014

Your child on Facebook: learn about the privacy settings

Security matters to everyone, however security of our children is our top priority. We make sure that they are safe at school, home, and on the streets. Equally we need to provide them with a safe experience in the cyberworld. Recently, we published a blog about general online security of the children, which suggested that you take time and help your child with privacy settings on Facebook. Don’t worry, if you have no clue where to start, we will guide you through the labyrinth of sophisticated security and privacy settings settings. Follow our tips to secure yourself and your child on the most popular social network.

Privacy settings

Like other Internet giants, Facebook has been especially vulnerable to criticisms about privacy. In particular, critics have complained that even if you deactivate your account, the information can still remain on the network and be subject to web searches.~ comments Mashable in the article on recent Facebook privacy update

Following users’ complaints regarding privacy issues, Facebook decided to change the default settings of your status updates to be the visible for Friends only instead of Public. This however applies to Facebook newbies only! So if you and your children are already users, you still have a job to do! :)
Security shortcut

Facebook regularly updates its settings and as a result your profile settings can be restored to the default. In terms of  privacy it means: Everything is PUBLIC. Therefore it’s extremely important to review your profile regularly . You will not be able to influence everything, however there are an advanced number of settings that can be fully controlled by you. The three basic areas that you should focus on are:

  1. 1. Who can see your posts and images?
  2. 2. Who can contact you?
  3. 3. How you can help your child block harassing Facebook friends.

You will find this setting in the right top corner on the blue bar, in the Privacy Shortcuts section. Click on the See More Settings to open the window below and follow our suggestions.

Advacne privacz settings Read more…

May 23rd, 2014

US schools gain from 5 million free enterprise-grade licenses

MKT-3368_blog_image_blhd01We’re really excited by the popularity of our Free for Education program. It’s growing so much that we recently reached the 5 million milestone for the number of free licenses issues. This means that over 1/10 computers in schools, libraries and charities in the US could be protected by our enterprise-grade antivirus for FREE already!

Since November 2012 we have given avast! Endpoint Protection Suite, a product which is already purchased by many businesses worldwide, to education institutions in the USA for FREE. Over 4500 institutions have been granted a license for their network, savings schools on average $14,000 per year in antivirus license fees – freeing up much needed budget which can be better spent on other equipment to benefit your students. We’ve recently heard how one school will be  putting their savings towards buying tablets for the classroom – a great investment for future technology.

When you consider what little funding this program has for advertising and promotion (after all, it’s a free project), the numbers we’ve achieved are huge and we hope the program continues this way and more and more schools can benefit from this.

How does a school get avast! Endpoint Protection Suite for free? It’s easy – apply here: www.avast.com/education I personally review and check all applications that come in to verify eligibility – so keep them coming!

Is avast! Free for students? AVAST Free for Education protects you at school and avast! Free Antivirus protects you at home. Students and their parents can use avast! Free Antivirus to help protect their school network further from outside threats. Download from: www.avast.com/students

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 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

eBay becomes victim of security breach

Auction giant eBay requests 128 million users to change their passwords after hack.

tweet ebay

In a blog post from the company, eBay Inc. said a cyberattack “compromised a database containing encrypted passwords and other non-financial data.” There is no evidence that the compromise resulted in users’ financial or credit card information being stolen, but the company is telling all users to change their passwords.

Users need to be alert even after their passwords have been changed. After a breach like this the risk that hackers will use their personal information to commit identity fraud and launch phishing attacks increases. As always, do not click on links in emails, or give personal information over the phone. If you need to discuss your account information, please contact eBay’s customer service by phone or via their website.

“The eBay breach is yet another password issue like Heartbleed. It is really important that people take this seriously, ” said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer of AVAST Software. “Data from our recent survey shows that nine out of ten people intended to change their passwords after Heartbleed, but only 40% took action. This careless attitude is completely irresponsible; people have to take the initiative to protect themselves.”

A password manager like avast! EasyPass helps encrypt and protect personal information online, with random, strong passwords. Learn about creating strong passwords by reading our blog, My password was stolen. What do I do now?

Two weeks ago, eBay discovered that cyberattackers broke into their corporate network through a small number of employee log in credentials. They revealed that the database was actually compromised in late February and early March, and included eBay customers’ name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth. However, the database did not contain financial information or other confidential personal information.

Another eBay compromise yesterday

Yesterday in an unrelated attack, eBay’s UK and French advertisement network was compromised and showed fake Java and Flash updates. This malicious advertising replaced the visited page and an installer offered a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP).  As of last night, they were working to resolve the issue. avast! Antivirus detected the compromise and alerted users.

“Third party ad networks are useful to attackers because the number of connections delays taking malicious content down,” explained Honza Zika, malware analyst in the avast! Virus Lab. “Instead of a normal ad, the attacker deploys a code that redirects to the attacker’s page. It’s designed to look like an official Flash or Java page, but installs unwanted toolbars, addons, extensions or other PUPs. avast! detected this and protected our users.”

Thanks to independent researcher Malekal for his work on this compromise. Read more on his blog.

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: , , ,
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 21st, 2014

Does your fitness app track more than your daily workouts?

avast! MobileSecurity checks privacy permissions of appsFor the last few years, I have used an app on my Android smartphone to log my training runs. It tracks the distance I ran, the route I took, my running pace, and calories burned. If I want to, I can link it with Facebook or other social networks and share my workouts, or I can pay to have my stats broadcast live, so for example, during a race, my family can follow my progress.

Using an app like this is motivating and helps me to organize my training better, but until recently I had never considered the privacy and security issues surrounding fitness tracking devices and apps.

“Privacy advocates warn that consumers aren’t always aware of how sensitive the data the apps collect can be or what privacy protections exist,” reported The Washington Post yesterday.

My smartphone is protected by avast! Mobile Security, so I decided to take a closer look at my apps with the Privacy Advisor feature. Privacy Advisor scans the apps in my device and tells me what kinds of information they collect. Application Management tells me what permissions individual apps require. My fitness app requires me to give these permissions:

  • Track GPS location
  • Read contact data
  • Access accounts

Not too bad; at least when I compare it to the fitness app that came with the phone.

My fitness app respects my privacy, but many health and fitness apps sell personal information like usernames, names and email addresses, and information like medical symptom searches, zip codes, geo-location, gender identifiers, and dietary and workout habits. A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study revealed that ad companies and data miners are among the third parties that buy this data.

Already some employers are rewarding their workers with cheaper insurance plans for joining fitness programs. But there is worry that the data collected could be pieced together to create profiles that would backfire. It’s fine when you’re healthy for your fitness, health and medical data to determine things like insurance rates or drug pricing, but what if your health declines?

The FTC “is concerned consumers could be penalized based on health data; for instance, a financial institution might adjust credit ratings based on the fact someone has a disease.”

“Information about consumers most intimate health conditions is going to be sold to the highest bidder,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Washington Post. “Employers might get access to it, insurers might get access to it, or mortgage lenders — which could lead to a vast array of negative discriminatory practices.”

Know what your apps want

Check what the apps that you have allowed on your smartphone require with avast! Mobile Security.  Install it free on Android devices from the Google Play store.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news and product information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our avast! Business Solutions.

 

May 15th, 2014

Author brings old friend back to life

Richard Skorupski is a writer and author living in South Dakota.

Richard Skorupski is a writer and author living in South Dakota.

avast! GrimeFighter cleaned “Grime” away and gave an author his beloved laptop back.

Writers have their rituals and their favorite ways to write. For example, author Truman Capote always wrote while stretched out on his couch or bed with cigarettes and drinks (mint tea in the morning; martinis at night) within reach. Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass famously writes in a shed by hand, using a ballpoint pen on narrow lined A4 paper (with two holes, not four). Douglas Adams typed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on his old Hermes 8 typewriter.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear from author Richard Skorupski about the decline of a trusty “old friend.” The surprise was how avast! GrimeFighter brought that friend out of retirement. Here’s the story Richard shared with us:

A story about an old friend

For a man I can compare it to a favorite tee shirt or faded work jeans. For a woman I can compare it to a favorite pair of comfortable shoes.

That’s right I love my old laptop. It has been with me and served me well through years of blogs, rants, surfing and (of course) the writing of my books. Both Flyover County and The Fred Weber Story were written entirely on that laptop. The two books together are more than a million words. Add that to the other things I have written over the years and there is no wonder why the letters are worn off the keys. It is like having a best friend at my fingertips. My fingers fell in just the right place.

Sure the case is scratched, the battery is shot and I’m on the second screen, but it was still my favorite writing tool. That is until it got too old. As time wore on the my old friend got slower and slower. I understood, this old XP machine was born nine years ago in 2005, that has to be at least one hundred thirty in computer years. It finally got to the point where I put it out to pasture. I kept it around for the files it remembered, and picture memories it held, but I didn’t ask it for hard work anymore.

Now the turn of events. I was with my wife at an Expo Vender show in Huron, South Dakota over the weekend. There was a guy there who sells repaired and refurbished used computers. I knew him because he sold me my replacement computer a few months back. I was talking to him about my old laptop and how it now took over forty five minutes to boot up. I told him I couldn’t play with my old friend anymore because it was simply too slow. He said he may be able to fix it, no guarantees, for a fifty dollar service fee.

That got me thinking. I have seen those commercials on television for speeding up older computers. I wasn’t sure about them enough to trust what they were telling me. I had another answer. I use Avast! Antivirus software on all my home computers. They have recently produced GrimeFighter. They told me that they could make my old friend run like new again. Since I had confidence in Avast! as a company, I bought their product.

I installed the software and (after a couple calls to a very helpful customer service) the thing was off and running. Grime Figher jumped in and started cleaning. The thing took two hours to clean up years of gunk. In the end the report told me I was good to go (other than a very old battery – something I already knew).

So here I am this morning, sharing quality time with my old friend. He is feeling much better, he is spry and chipper and faster than he has been in years. I’m looking forward to all the stories we will tell together in the months (and perhaps years) to come.

Thank you Avast! Now, if you could just find a rejuvenator for humans…

avast! GrimeFighter can help you bring your own “old friend” back from the dead. Read more about how GrimeFighter can speed up your old laptop. Scan your computer for free, then buy your own GrimeFighter license, and purge Grime from your PC.

It’s been a few days since Richard let the minions clean “Grime” from his old laptop and he says, “I haven’t touched the new computer since I ran Grime Fighter on this one.”

Learn more about Richard and buy his first book from Amazon.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news and product information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our avast! Business Solutions.

 

May 13th, 2014

Who protects your smartphone from cybercrooks?

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop 2014

The avast! Virus Lab professionals work together to stop malware from attacking your Android mobile phone.

 

Filip Chytrý, an analyst in the avast! Virus Lab will Declare war against Android Malware, together with his colleague, Peter Kalnai, at the 8th International CARO Workshop held in Melbourne, Florida this week. CARO (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) is a technical gathering of malware experts from around the world who share case studies of mobile attacks, do real life attack demonstrations, and present plans for the identification and investigation of coordinated mobile threats.

Along with his specialized knowledge in Android malware, Filip is a really fun guy. I asked him a few questions, so that you could meet one of the AVAST professionals directly responsible for keeping tens of millions of Android smartphone users safe from threats.

DEBORAH Thanks for taking time during your preparations for CARO to meet our users via the AVAST blog. Your job analyzing Android-targeted malware didn’t even exist when you were a little boy. What early experiences with technology influenced your career path?

SAAB-(2)

Filip has worn cool shoes all his life

FILIP Define early. :) I’ve been addicted to PCs since childhood. I had my very first PC when I was 8 years old; some old piece of junk which was at that time probably older than I, but I still have remarkable memories of that time. So from that time on, I was influenced by technology. Even in my leisure activities, I concentrated on PCs. I went on to graduate from the School of Applications Cybernetics in Hradec Králové in Czech Republic.

DEBORAH  Protecting people’s desktop computers is how AVAST started, and now we’ve added free mobile security to our product offerings. How do we teach people to keep their smartphones and tablets safe just like their computers?
FILIP
Most people still do not realize that their smartphones actually have more computing power and abilities than the computer they had in their homes five-ten years ago. The capabilities of their devices are incredible. Data in portable devices may say more about you than data from your PC. You have location data there, pictures, social media information and so on. Read more…

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May 12th, 2014

Browser Ransomware Attacks are Massive in Scale

avast! Virus Lab infographic shows how prolific and wide-spread Browser Ransomware attacks have been over the last three months.

AttentionLeaving page alert

During December I wrote about the tricks and tactics of Browser Ransomware. Browser Ransomware is malware that works in different types of browsers to prevent people from using their PCs. To get access back to their own PC, the victim of this malware must pay a ransom to unblock it. The key to success for this attack is its translations into many different languages, giving the cybercrooks a bigger pool of potential victims.

Today I would like to look back on Browser Ransomware attacks and share some data from our avast! CommunityIQ with you.

We detect Ransomware attacks using several different methods.  The detections I checked were created January 30, 2014. I was really surprised at the huge impact this attack has had on AVAST users.

  • In a little under 3 months, AVAST protected more than a half million unique users around the world from Ransomware attacks.
  • In the past 6 weeks, AVAST users have unknowingly visited a site with Ransomware on it over 18 million times.
  • During last 24 hours, AVAST stopped redirection from infected sites to sites hosting Ransomware for more than 18,000 unique users. Read more…