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August 1st, 2014

Security and privacy settings across your Google accounts

Google is the most popular Internet search provider worldwide. The name itself has even become a verb: We don’t look online anymore, we Google everything. Moreover, we use plenty of Google products not even realizing how connected they are. Gmail, YouTube, Translator, Google Drive, Photos (the former Picassa), Play, as well as Google+. The integration of Google products has became stronger.  Now we access our email, YouTube videos, images, documents, and social networks such as Google+ and YouTube using one log in and credentials. Therefore it is extremely important to ensure that all of accounts are set up correctly. Following our previous articles on Security on Social Media, on Facebook privacy, Graph search or your reputation online,  let’s take a closer look at Google products with a special focus on privacy of your social account.

Security and privacy for your Google accounts

Google+ is a very specific social network, very often underestimated by the users. Most Google+ owners don’t even realize that they have an account on the social channel! You might not use it actively, but  it is important to have your data and profile under control.  So let’s start with the basics.

In the top right corner you can start editing your profile settings.

Privacy settings G+

Go to the privacy section. One of the most important features here is a 2-Step Verification.
Read more…

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July 31st, 2014

Security basics: Internet scams and your identity

If you’re afraid “to do something wrong” when you sit behind your computer, this new series is for you.

AVAST has expertise in developing security products and we want to bring you a complete series about internet danger, with good practices to avoid scams, loss of money, and identity theft. You’re just about to join a tutorial that will help you avoid such threats in the virtual world.

Privacy July 2014 B (2)

First, being afraid to do something wrong is healthy because it will slow you down, which can be a good thing since most mistakes are made due to rushing through something. Computers, smartphones and tablets are advanced tech devices. Those of us who did not have the opportunity to learn and gather knowledge and experience on using these devices when we were young, can be a little shy with them. Searching for information about how to do something with your device is not always easy because people tend to use complicated language. Making it simple and easy-to-understand is a task that we assume with pleasure.

The Basics

The internet is a space for sharing and dialog. However, alongside this encouraging environment you will face some areas where you need to exercise caution: Inappropriate content for children like adult sites; sites which promote hateful content such as racism and intolerance; and cybercriminals who use different methods to steal your personal, banking, and credit card data.

You may be tempted to think that no one will be interested in your computer, or that your computer cannot be found in the internet jungle. That would be a mistake.

Cybercriminals hide in the jungle and misuse your computer as a base to attack others, and spread viruses (malware) or spam. Think of it this way – the banking systems and e-commerce sites have, in general, a much bigger and more sophisticated security arsenal than your own computer (smartphone or tablet), and yours is the weakest point in this chain.

So let’s start from the same place.

Here’s The Rule: All safety measures you take in real life should be applied when you use the internet: Visit only trustworthy sites and stores, do not share your personal data with anyone, lock the doors, and put an alarm. AVAST believes security implies prevention: Be prepared before something bad surprises you.

Your identity is up for grabs

Your personal data or your credentials for a particular site (username and password) are quite valuable to cybercrooks. With this data, scammers act on your behalf; sending emails (like the phishing ones we’ve written about lately), shopping with your credit card, and doing things that can cause harm to you, not only financially but also for your reputation. They could share false information about you, photos and personal data. This could led to problems when, for instance, you are looking for a new job, but also in your personal and family life.

Create strong passwords to protect your online accountsTaking care of your passwords is essential. Use different passwords for each service or internet site. You should create the so-called strong passwords: CAPS letters, symbols, and numbers. AVAST offers an automated solution for your passwords called avast! EasyPass. This way, using different and secure passwords, cybercriminals can’t easy guess your credentials, enter in sites, or shop in your behalf.

Do not answer unsolicited emails or sales promotions that promise you a financial return after you make a small payment. Never help or join into the financial operations of a third party, close to you or not. Do not trust in NGOs that ask for donations, rather look for the official sites to contribute. Never giveaway your banking data for “personal credit and rewards” announcements, for example, bogus companies offering jobs that ask for a preliminary payment. Scams that prey on your emotions are prevalent. Dating scams in-the-wild ask for money to make a trip to meet your  love interest personally. In fact, after you pay, you’ll never see your love again. Beware of these types of scenarios.

How can we avoid these scams? Generally, they ask for a quick and secret decision and, often they have spelling and grammar errors because many still originate from foreign locales and rely on online translation software to spread the scams all over the world.

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

July 30th, 2014

From Lifehacker: avast! Free Antivirus the most popular desktop antivirus

Best Desktop protection Lifehackeravast! Free Antivirus was voted the most popular Windows security application by readers of Lifehacker.

Earlier this month we announced that avast! Free Antivirus was nominated by Lifehacker as the top antivirus solution for desktop computers. The results are here, and we are proud to share with you that Lifehacker readers picked avast! Free Antivirus as the most popular Windows AV solution. Nearly 50% of 7,700 participants proved that avast! Free Antivirus is a crowd favorite as the most trusted desktop security solution.

Protection, ease of use, and cost

Lifehacker editors recommend avast! Free Antivirus for the best balance between protection, ease of use, and cost. They choose our 2014 version because it offers

a streamlined, easy to navigate interface and a plethora of on-access scanning and protection tools. It’s still one of the top picks available, according to AV Comparitives and AV-Test, and performs well in antivirus tests.

Avast offers an on-access antivirus scanner… and also features an on-demand scanner you can run at any time. It updates quietly in the background without fuss, and has a “silent” mode where you can disable any and all notifications and warnings to keep performance slim and trim. The app itself is relatively resource light—you may not even notice it’s there. Best of all, it’s completely free.

AVAST best AV by Lifehacker

A good antivirus tool doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, and it doesn’t have to drag your system down either.  ~ wrote Alan Henry in his article.

We would like to thank the readers of Lifehacker for your trust and voting for avast! Free Antivirus.

If you don’t have any antivirus solution, or you are considering a switch, do not hesitate!  Install these avast! security products on your devices.

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.

July 28th, 2014

Phishing scam steals Finnish bank passwords, earns big money

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

Finnish banks warn their customers of phishing scheme.

Finnish banks warn their customers of phishing scheme.

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

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

What you need to know to protect yourself

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

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

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

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

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

 

July 24th, 2014

Mobile development start-up Inmite joins AVAST team!

logo Inmite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVAST Software acquires Inmite mobile development start-up

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

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

July 23rd, 2014

Should small and medium-sized businesses be worried about PoS attacks?

Customers are vulnerable at the moment of purchase.

Most U.S. merchants cannot detect fraud at the point of sale.

One of the most dangerous places in America is your local retailer. Before you leave the building with your purchases, you run the risk of having your identity stolen.

No doubt you recall the 2013 security breaches at Target, Michael’s, and Neiman Marcus where millions of records were compromised by Point-of-Sale (PoS) attacks. PoS occurs when the customer makes a payment to the merchant. That last exchange is the most vulnerable.

Large retail merchants lead the list by 50% of organizations where consumers’ data was compromised in 2013, followed by credit card issuers and consumer banks, according to the #DataInsecurity Report done by the National Consumers League, in cooperation with Javelin Strategy & Research. The #DataInsecurity Report also revealed that 61% of data breach victims reported the breached information was used to commit fraud against them.

This should not come as a surprise. According to the Nilson Report, approximately $4 trillion dollars was paid with credit, debit, and prepaid cards in the U.S. last year. Add to that the ready availability of code to execute PoS attacks available on underground forums and you have the perfect storm of a large victim pool for cybercriminals. The U.S. is an easy target since EMV cards (cards with chips embedded) have not been widely adopted. EMV, conceived between Europay, MasterCard and Visa, is a standard securing payments in other countries.

Cybercriminals don’t care about the size of your business

U.S. banks are slow to upgrade to "Smart cards" with embedded chips

U.S. banks are slow to upgrade to “Smart cards” with embedded chips.

Although most of the PoS attacks highlighted in the media were against large retailers, cybercrooks don’t care how large or small your business is. You would think they would, but cybercriminals are more interested in raking in the money rather than caring about the fame they could possibly receive from attacking a large and popular business. Regardless of its size, if your business has a PoS system to charge customers for products or services, you should be protecting your system to save yourself from a possible attack. PoS attacks not only steal valuable customer information, they can damage your business’s reputation.

The #DataInsecurity Report shows that only 10% of retail fraud victims are confident that retailers can protect their information in the future.

How PoS attacks work

The biggest PoS Trojans, like Dexter, BlackPOS, Minerva, and vSkimmer, have targeted systems and networks running Windows. Read more…

July 21st, 2014

avast! is nominated the best antivirus for Windows by Lifehacker

avast! Free Antivirus was nominated by Lifehacker users as one of the best desktop applications.

avast! Free Antivirus

Lifehacker is a well-known site for its “Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.” When the subject is to get protected and install an antivirus, they picked up avast! Free Antivirus and, now, last Sunday, avast! was picked again as one of the Top 5.

“It’s our pick as the best…it’s fast, lightweight,…”, says Lifehacker.

When expert people say something is the best, it is always due to a combination of factors and it varies (a lot!) among users. Lifehacker asked their users to point out where avast! excels and what they miss in the competition. They say they are confident of choosing avast! due to a lot of points.

Users  commented on the high level of usability and that it fits for common users, but doesn’t lack advanced settings for the geeky ones. If you want it, avast! has a high level of customization, fitting well for all needs, from gamers to your grandma!

“A fairly simple interface from which you can scan your computer, see statistics, update definitions, and more.”

Voters appreciate avast’s many features: Scans files, email, URLs, P2P programs, and more for malware. Automatic updates happen as soon as the virus database or program changes. In fact, the streaming updates are released each 4 minutes!

“It updates quietly in the background without fuss.”

“A plethora of on-access scanning and protection tools,” (some of which you may not want, but can be easily managed during the installation process.)

Silent mode where you can disable any and all notifications and warnings to keep performance slim and trim.”

“Others highlighted specific features, like avast!’s screensaver scan, where the application only kicks in when you’re away from the computer or the system is idle.”

Low system impact is a major consideration when choosing antivirus protection:

“avast! may be simpler and lighter weight than most other programs out there”

“The app itself is relatively resource light — you may not even notice it’s there”.

A few users highlighted the fact that avast! is cross-platform, and available for multiple operating systems.

LifeHacker says, “We personally don’t think paid antivirus are necessary in a home setting, especially if you use good browsing habits.”

And the #1 reason people choose avast! Free Antivirus?

“Best of all, it’s completely free.”

What are you waiting for? Install these avast! security products on your devices.

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

July 18th, 2014

Spearphishing scams hope you’ll take the bait

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

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

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

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

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

How to avoid becoming a spear phishing victim

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

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

July 15th, 2014

AVAST evangelist allegedly wins World Cup 2014 Lottery

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

Too bad, it’s a scam.

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

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

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

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July 14th, 2014

Common passwords inspire uncommon dress

password dress

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

Weak passwords make for creative design.

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

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

Iloveyou, you little monkey

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

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

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

Some things we’ll just have to speculate about…

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

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

Top 10 worst passwords

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

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

Tips and tricks

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

2. Make it 8 characters or longer

3. Create a unique password for every account

Read more from the AVAST blog

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

Are hackers’ passwords stronger than regular passwords?

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

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