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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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July 8th, 2014

Tens of thousands of Americans sell themselves online every day

The Internet has become a virtual flea market, with online consumer-to-consumer sites like Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist selling millions of products every day. Used smartphones are a popular sales item on eBay – more than 80,000 people list their phones for sale each day. It seems like a smart way to make some extra money, but AVAST has found out that many fail to protect their identity in the process. 

AVAST recovers an abundance of personal data from used smartphones 

Most sellers delete all of their personal data prior to selling their used devices… or so they think. We purchased 20 used Android phones off eBay and used simple and easily available recovery software to restore deleted files. The amount of data we were able to retrieve was astonishing and proves that simply deleting is not enough.

Our analysts found the following:

  • More than 40,000 stored photosUsed Smartphones for Sale
  • More than 1,500 family photos of children
  • More than 750 photos of women in various stages of undress
  • More than 250 selfies of what appear to be the previous owner’s manhood
  • More than 1,000 Google searches
  • More than 750 emails and text messages
  • More than 250 contact names and email addresses
  • Four previous owners’ identities
  • One completed loan application

One phone even had a competitor’s security software installed, but unfortunately it did not help the former owner as it revealed the most personal information out of all the phones we analyzed. 

No one cares about my old photos, messages and Google searches, right?

Wrong! As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Now add private Facebook messages that include geo-location, Google searches for open job positions in a specific field, media files, and phone contacts. Put all of these pieces together to complete the puzzle and you have a clear picture of who the former smartphone owner was. Stalkers, enemies, and thieves can abuse personal data to stalk, blackmail and steal people’s identities. They can use this information to watch people’s every move, exploit their strange fetishes, open credit cards in their name, or even continue what they started by further selling their personal information online. 

How to permanently delete and overwrite data from your Android phone 

Deleting files from your Android phone before selling it or giving it away is not enough. You need to overwrite your files, making them irretrievable. To do so, install avast! Anti-Theft from the Google Play Store for free. Once you have the app installed, turn on the “thorough wipe” feature within the app. You will then need to create a my.avast account to connect to the phone (this allows users to remotely wipe their phones in theft cases as well). The final step is to wipe the phone clean, which will delete and overwrite all of your personal data. 

AVAST Used Smartphone Infographic

Read about our investigation:

Android Forensics, Part 1: How we recovered (supposedly) erased data

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 7th, 2014

#AVASTstories shared by the Community

The AVAST community has proven its amazing loyalty and support over and over.  Every day we receive messages from around the world. Your comments - positive and negative -  help us improve our products and services.  Your messages of appreciation for delivering a free antivirus solution prove that we are helping millions of people stay secure, and motivate us   even further. For example, last year we have received a real handwritten letter from 9-year old Polish boy living in Ireland, and just this week, we received a “CV” from young Lucy, who wishes to work for AVAST Software.

Our community also contributes to the success of AVAST. Evangelists help us translate software, and plenty of avast! users volunteer to support others on the avast! forum. Kudos to our Superstars including BobLisandro, and Paulius!

We appreciate your #AVASTstories and are pleased to share some of them here!

 I just changed from Windows Essentials when I rebuilt my system. I love freeware and Avast has protected me from ad-ware and other stuff that escaped my eagle eye. Five stars for Avast free! ~ Sharon L. (Facebook comment) 

Avast all the way, have been using avast for years, and major improvements and step ups over the years just makes avast number 1. I’ve suggested avast to many people, and installed avast on several systems. ~ Morgan N. (Facebook comment)

 

I am using avast for the PC (from 4 years) & smartphone (from 2 years). It’s great and free. I liked it so much, I am gonna purchase the premium version. Thank you avast for the quality products and services.  ~Prashanth K (Google+ comment)

 

 

Keep writing us on here on our blog, our Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, YouTube or LinkedIn.

If you don’t use antivirus protection yet on your PC, Mac or Android device, it is high time to install avast! Antivirus for free.

For Android OS, get avast! Mobile Security & Anti-theft.

For Windows, get avast! Free Antivirus.

For Mac, get avast! Free Antivirus for Mac.

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 1st, 2014

TextSecure reclassified as a false positive

On occasion, even the most well thought-out systems can break down. In the antivirus business, we try hard to minimize something termed false positive. A false positive is merely a mistake or a false alarm. It happens when your antivirus software erroneously identifies a file or a download as being malicious.

The AVAST Virus Lab receives more than 50,000 samples of new potential viruses every single day. There are so many that we cannot look at each individually, so we use techniques with super-techie names like Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen.  (These techniques are explained in a previous blog post, New Toy in the Avast Research Lab.) When a file is confirmed as malicious, we add it to our virus database. With this amount of new samples, every now and then a false positive occurs. There is no way to avoid it completely, but we try to limit it and its impact.

Over the weekend, avast! Mobile Security erroneously detected the TextSecure app as a Trojan. TextSecure is an app developed by Open Whisper Systems that protects your privacy by encrypting your text and chat messages, which means that they can only be read by your intended recipients. The AVAST Virus Lab discovered the error, fixed it and sent out an update.

Unfortunately, wires got crossed between our Virus Lab analyst and our social media community manager, and the wrong message was sent to people on Twitter and Facebook who inquired about the detection. You see, at the same time as the TextSecure detection was being reported, another unrelated detection was made, and it was indeed a malicious file. It was a simple case of mistaken identity. Later in the day, we discovered the mistake and followed up by communicating it across AVAST social channels.

AVAST confirms that TextSecure Private Messenger is a genuine and safe application for Android, and contains no malicious scripts. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to TextSecure users and Open Whisper Systems.

Please be assured that AVAST does not intentionally recognize valid software as suspicious. The last thing we want to do is disrupt businesses or our customers. However, to provide maximum protection against genuine virus threats, false positive alerts sometimes arise.

howto2_enHow to report a suspected false positive

If you suspect that AVAST has incorrectly identified a file as suspicious, please submit a report to http://www.avast.com/contact-form.php?subject=VIRUS-FILE. This form will generate an email to our Virus Lab research team, and they will investigate it.

Before you do that, you may want to upload a file or a URL to online virus scanning service VirusTotal. This free online service scans the file against multiple antivirus engines and website scanners at the same time.

TextSecure protects your privacy

The fine developers of the TextSecure app deserve a happy ending, so we want to throw our support behind this innovative app. We developed avast! Mobile Security to protect Android users from malware and theft and have included numerous features to protect the privacy of our users. The TextSecure app takes that further by providing end-to-end encryption when you are communicating with other TextSecure users. It also keeps your messages away from prying eyes if your phone is lost or stolen.

Install TextSecure Private Messenger for free from Google Play. Don’t forget to leave a review and a 5-star rating!

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.

 

 

June 30th, 2014

Community stories: 10-year old Lucy sent her CV to AVAST!

AVAST is the #1 Best Employer in our home country of Czech Republic. We have a multinational team and offices in Silicon Valley, Austin, Munich, and Hong Kong. Professionals from developers to support specialists to marketers want to join our team.

To make sure they secure a spot with our innovative company, potential employees start early. Today we spotted a Tweet complete with a CV from a future avast! Virus Lab researcher:

Lucy, we are waiting for you to graduate and join our team!

We are waiting for you, too! If you are creative like Lucy and smart like her virus-fighting Dad, looking for the adventure of a lifetime in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and have a killer skillset, then check out the AVAST Careers page.

Here’s what it’s like to work at AVAST.


 

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.

June 26th, 2014

12 angry minions

avast! GrimeFighter is one of the most popular new products among AVAST users.

However, many of you still don’t know the benefits of it or what avast! GrimeFighter does. Therefore we have prepared a series of articles with a “movie theme” to show you the functionality of our Grime-fighting minions! The first one, Learn everything you always wanted to know about avast! GrimeFighter, but were afraid to ask!, gave you an overview of product functionality. Now let’s dig a bit deeper into the subject.

12 Angry minions.

The Grime Fighter crew work together towards one goal: Cleaning and optimizing your PCs performance. They have no mercy for temporary and unwanted files and apps, including ‘bloatware’ and ‘crapware’. This is a very complicated task, therefore our 12 Angry minions analyze each element in depth before deleting anything that is actually important to you. This influences the time of the cleaning process (it takes up to 4 hours depending on the initial state of your PC), but also ensures results: A more efficient and faster machine. Although our minions make it look easy and entertaining, cleaning Grime so thoroughly is a complex task!
avast! GrimeFighter optimizes your PC better than other products.

For the same reason each minion has it’s specialization and focus on different tasks:

OFFICER PETE is head of the GrimeFighter team.

KOBAYASHI sneaks up on malware to eliminate it from your PC.

NIKITA specializes in cleaning and maintaining your web browser.

DALE JUMPSHOT JR. focuses on removing crapware and bloatware to speed up Windows load time.

BEEF strengthens the security of your applications.

TORQUE tuns up and optimizes Windows services and settings.

SIR JEFFREY investigates and analyzes your PC hardware components.

MARIO analyzes your network connection for security and speed.

DR. LIZA analyzes and classifies all of the stuff on your hard drive.

ZILCH takes out the trash on your PC to free up your drive space.

MAXIMUS analyzes and researches the newest hacking trends the instant they emerge, and  last but not least HOLMES focuses on your privacy settings.

The avast! Minions perform deep analysis, by booting your PC into Linux to identify Grime and clean every corner of your PC. Some forms of Grime are hard to remove when Windows is running, but can’t hide when we sedate your computer. Unwanted files and apps go by many names, including ‘bloatware’, ‘crapware’, and sometimes even half-jokingly using the name ‘virus.’ We define all of these as ‘Grime.’ The image below visualize Minions in action. 

Minions in actions

 

To summarize: Computer users can download avast! GrimeFighter’s scan tool to have their PC examined for free. It finds anything that slows the PC. If users then want to clean their PCs, they may buy their own GrimeFighter license, to purge Grime from the PC. GrimeFighter’s minions do all the maintenance work… while you surf the web or sip a cup a tea. For more information, please visit our website.

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.

June 25th, 2014

FNATIC talks to Avast about DDoS attacks targeting E-Sports

At the beginning of 2014, gaming platforms such as League of Legends and other video-game servers were brought down by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks cost professional gamers thousands in advertising revenue. FNATIC Senior Features writer, Davor ‘Dendra’ Miljkovic, spoke to Jiri Sejtko, the Director of the AVAST Virus Lab, about how to handle DDoS attacks. Here is a reprint of the original article that appeared on the FNATIC website.

 avast! protects over 219 million active devices on all inhabited planets

avast! protects over 219 million active devices on all inhabited planets

The threat is real

The internet realm is becoming increasingly troublesome, as the encyclopedia of viruses, worms, trojans and other malicious creations only keeps growing. However, when it comes to gamers it seems that one particular annoyance tops that list nowadays – Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. Whether it’s a TS server lagging for no apparent reason or an entire gaming server overloading, chances are you’ve experienced a DDoS attack before.

Dating back to 2000, DDoS attacks have been used to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users and there are several methods to accomplish this. One of the more popular methods is to flood a targeted system with incoming traffic to the point it cannot respond to legitimate traffic or only respond very slowly. This very method is the premium choice among disgruntled gamers who aim to sabotage a server or one particular system of another gamer they dislike for whatever reason.

So what can you do if you find yourself targeted by one such disgruntled gamer?

What can be done?

To see what can be done to help you deal with a DDoS attack or a potential one, we spoke to Jiri Sejtko, the Director of Viruslab Operations at Avast Software:

Q: What kind of security measures are available to protect yourself from a DDoS attack?

A: Basically, there is no protection if an attack is well done, however you can always do some steps to defend your system once the attack has happened.When you know how the attack is done, it’s possible to tweak (setup) your system and to try to find out where the attack came from.

Q: Can you elaborate on these steps?

A: One of the steps would be to configure your router to filter IPs or even protocols used in the attack – this step will help if the attacker didn’t use the whole bandwith of the given Internet connection. Best ask your Internet Service Provider to do this for you.

Q: So which ISPs would you recommend?

Read this answer and the entire article on the FNATIC website.

 

avast! Internet Security is the official antivirus software of the FNATIC team

avast! Internet Security is the official antivirus software of the FNATIC team

 

avast! Internet Security is the official antivirus software of the FNATIC team. avast! offers a massive 40% discount to FNATIC fans! Purchase your discounted avast! Internet Security from the dedicated FNATIC page at avast.com.

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.

June 16th, 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: Ole Ola! America will play World Cup soccer on mobile devices

The U.S. is on the soccer field: Our own triple-threat celebrity, Jennifer Lopez, performed at the opening ceremony; Facebook set up a special “Trending World Cup” news feed; Twitter predicts the most tweeted global event ever; Google search features a daily soccer doodle; and the U.S. is playing its first game in the tournament today.

The 2014 World Cup is more digital than any other soccer World Cup. At AVAST, we wanted to understand how people will watch and participate in the tournament this year. In a survey of more than 3,000 AVAST users in the U.S., we discovered mobile devices will play a big part: Two out of three American soccer fans will use their smartphone or tablet to enhance their World Cup experience. 

World Cup 2014, USA, soccer, mobile

Soccer news, live scores and vuvuzela sounds on smartphone

Highest priority for Americans is to stay on top of the game results with more than half the fans reporting they will check the live scores from their smartphone. One-third said they will read news about the games on their smartphone or tablet and one-fifth will live stream the games on their mobile device. Many will certainly be interested in the results as they placed a bet. The best strategies to bet on the winning team have been discussed and people are already well into betting fever. One out of ten survey respondents will use or have already used their smartphone or tablet to place bets. 

There is even more that can be done on mobile. For six percent of respondents, collecting and trading stickers of the players has moved from the paper booklet to digital albums in the cloud. And what would a World Cup be without the famous BZZZZ vuvuzela sound? Cover your ears – this year you can expect to hear a cacophony of digital horns: One in 20 intend to use a mobile app to sound the vuvuzela.

Instead of just following the games, every eighth American fan wants to become a world champion themselves – and will play soccer games on their mobile device. 

For all mobile activities, nearly half of Americans stick to the official FIFA apps, the majority mixes official with unofficial apps or only go for unofficial apps. It’s great for fans to have a wider variety of apps to choose from, but beware, we found some gaming apps that are fake, they won’t let you play and instead just want to collect your data and show you ads.

One out of five will live stream the games on smartphone or tablet

The majority of Americans will still watch the games the traditional way – eight out of ten – on the TV at home. However, digital sources are slowly taking over:  40 percent will watch the tournament on PC  and on the smartphone and tablet 21 percent will watch. 

Now who do Americans think will win? 

Americans’ faith in their own team is low!  Only eight percent think the U.S. team will win. Instead, all bets are on the World Cup host: One-third of Americans pick Brazil to take home the cup.

World Cup safety tips

At AVAST, we think we can all be winners if this will be a safe World Cup. Using your smartphone and tablet during and after the soccer World Cup, make sure you are protected:

  • Only download apps from the official Google Play store
  • Choose apps from official sources and read what others are saying about them
  • Take a close look at the permissions an app requests and question if they are necessary for the apps’ functionality   
  • Use antivirus on your PC, smartphone, and tablet
  • If live streaming the games on public Wi-Fi, make sure you are protected with a VPN solution encrypting your communications such as avast! SecureLine

 

World Cup 2014, mobile, USA, soccer

June 13th, 2014

Everything you always wanted to know about avast! GrimeFighter, but were afraid to ask!

In April 2014, we introduced avast! GrimeFighter in 14 languages, offering our product to millions of users. Ever since then, avast! GrimeFighter became one of the most popular new products among our users. However, many of you still don’t know the benefits of it or what avast! GrimeFighter does. Therefore we have prepared a series of articles to show you the functionality of our grime-fighting minions! Learn everything you always wanted to know about avast! GrimeFighter, but were afraid to ask!

1. Who are the minions?

They might look like funny characters from an animated movie. The minions, however, are serious warriors against all kind of dirt that accumulates on your computer over time. Removing “Grime” is quite a sophisticated process, and it must be done properly. Our minions must be very careful not to remove unnecessary items, as well as look through the entire system so as not to miss something.  Each of the characters play an important role in the cleaning process, to achieve one common goal: Speed up your PC and optimize it’s performance.  Meet the “mean and lean” GrimeFighter crew:

Grime crew1

Grime crew Read more…