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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…
May 9th, 2014

When Software Collides! What to do with your old antivirus program.

Running multiple antivirus programs on the same computer can cause conflicts resulting in false positives, a slowdown in performance, or system instability.

Installing more than one antivirus program can cause conflicts

Question of the week: Can I have more than one antivirus program on my computer at a time?

This is a good question to ask the week that security geeks are discussing the death of antivirus all over the media. The antivirus program of the 90s may be among the dearly departed, but modern anti-malware solutions such as avast! security products incorporate firewalls, intrusion detection, heuristics, virtualization, sandboxes, and many other layers of protection, making it an extremely sophisticated piece of software.

With all that complicated software, it’s not a good idea to run two antivirus programs simultaneously. In fact, many antivirus programs will not install if another antivirus is detected on your system.

Lukas Hasik, Vice President of Customer Care and Satisfaction at AVAST, says,

Most people think that more is better. However, there are situations when it isn’t true. More ice cream doesn’t make you more satisfied. And more antivirus programs on the same computer will not make you more secure. You may want to know why?  The explanation is easy.

Antivirus itself has to access areas of your operating system that “normal” programs wouldn’t have access to because accessing these areas would make the program suspicious. This is the space for collisions with other programs; mostly other antiviruses. We always advise our users to have only one active protection at the time. It’s like adding more air deflectors to make your car faster – seems like a good idea, but it only slows you down.

Generally speaking, it’s good to have an antivirus program that scans every file or download for malware and a firewall which controls what comes into your computer so you can keep out hackers, viruses, and worms. Running multiple antivirus programs on the same computer can cause conflicts resulting in false positives, a slowdown in performance, or system instability.

Therefore it is strongly recommended to uninstall all other previously installed antivirus applications before installing avast! on your computer. Most antivirus companies produce a special uninstaller program to remove their antivirus software. You should use these removal tools because typical uninstallation from the Control Panel in Windows can leave stray files behind in some cases. These files may still remain in the system and prevent avast! Antivirus from being correctly installed.

howto2_enHow do I uninstall my old antivirus program?

We have compiled a list of vendors that provide a special removal tool to uninstall their antivirus software on the AVAST FAQ page. Follow their instructions before proceeding with the uninstallation.

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 7th, 2014

Fake government ransomware holding Android devices hostage

Ransomware, which has already made its rounds on Windows, is now increasingly targeting the Android operating system. A new piece of mobile malware claiming to be the government under the name Android: Koler-A is now targeting users.

We have full control of your phone – give us $300 and we’ll give it back

Obrázek 1-1

The ransomware is pushed automatically from fake porn sites visited by Android users via a malicious .apk file that appears in the form of an app. The innocent appearance of the app deceives users and is a powerful social engineering tactic used by malware developers to trick people into installing malicious apps. The form of delivery is not the only thing that makes the app suspicious and potentially dangerous, but the access it seeks are highly unusual and alarming. The ransomware requests full network access, permission to run at startup and permission to prevent the phone from sleeping. Once installed the granted access allows the ransomware to take control of the device. The full network access allows the malicious app to communicate over the web and download the ransom message that is shown on the captive device. The permission to run at startup and prevent the phone from sleeping fully lockdown the phone, preventing victims from escaping the ransom message.

The ransomware localizes fake government messages, depending on the users GPS location, accusing them of having viewed and downloaded inappropriate and illegal content. What does the ransomware do next? Demands ransom of course! The ransom to regain access to the device including all of its apps, which it claims are all encrypted, is set at around $300 and is to be paid through untraceable forms of payment such as MoneyPak.

avast! Mobile Security safeguards against ransomware

Both AVAST’s free and premium mobile security apps, avast! Mobile Security and avast! Mobile Premium, protect customers from falling for the devious apps containing ransomware. AVAST detects this ransomware under the name Android: Koler-A and blocks its execution.

We recommend that everyone be cautious when downloading apps, especially from unofficial app markets. We also urge users to not open any files that have been downloaded to their device without their consent. Always check what apps want to access and in addition to being cautious, we advise people download antivirus to protect their devices. This new ransomware appearing on Android is the perfect example of how malware is starting to move away from the PC environment and into our pockets and there are no signs of this slowing down.

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 business products.

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May 6th, 2014

The death of Antivirus has been greatly exaggerated

Antivirus, as customers know it, incorporates firewalls, intrusion detection, heuristics, virtualization, sandboxes, and many other layers of protection and not just antivirus. It is far from dead.” ~Vince Steckler, CEO

 

A weekend article in the Wall Street Journal in which traditional antivirus vendor, Symantec, described its new business strategy and declared that antivirus software is dead, prompted AVAST’s CEO, Vincent Steckler, to respond about the effectiveness of current antivirus:

Symantec’s statement seems to relate to the enterprise, and not the consumer and small business. Enterprises have traditionally relied on many layers of defense and antivirus is one of those layers. Antivirus though is a broad-spectrum defense and as such is often complemented by other products, such as those protecting against targeted attacks that enterprises worry about.

In the consumer and SMB space, the situation is quite different: customers typically do not have multiple layers of protection. They have one, their AV product.

These products though are not the simple AV products of past years. The true statement in the story is that consumer security is so much broader than AV. AV is used as a generic name as it is what customers know. They instead incorporate firewalls, intrusion detection, heuristics, virtualization, sandboxes, and many other layers of protection and not just antivirus. Therefore, we believe AV is not dead in the consumer space. It is far from dead there.

AVAST has had this broad offering under the umbrella name of antivirus for quite some time now. Adding to its tool set of anti-spam, anti-phishing, and a silent firewall is a new set of tools to keep consumers safe from clever attacks.

avast! Mobile Security leads the fight against the exponentially increasing malware written for Android. Just as AV software is not exclusively a malware combatant, the Mobile Security app includes password protection, back up, VPN, etc. – all features that increase your security. avast! Anti-Theft for mobile devices addresses the more prevalent problem for the time-being; lost or stolen devices. Also on offer is software not traditionally in the “antivirus” universe: A password management system, a browser cleanup tool to remove potentially unwanted programs such as browser toolbars; military-grade backup storage services, and VPN services to protect unsecured WiFi.

So yes, the statement that antivirus is dead has been greatly exaggerated.  Antivirus and the additional services are a necessity in today’s insecure environment, for consumers and enterprise.

And for those Symantec/Norton customers who feel abandoned by their security provider, we welcome you to switch to Avast for free. Antivirus is alive and well and continues to protect more than 200 million Avast customers daily from online threats.

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 business products.

May 5th, 2014

The 10 Commandments of Mobile Privacy

From governments to thieves to your wife – it seems that everyone has access to your private data.

avast! Mobile Security anti-theft helps track your lost phone

If you have a smartphone or tablet, people around you can discover your most deeply held secrets. You put all your private data and personal information there and… it’s at risk. The possibility of losing your phone or getting robbed is a major concern.

Is there anything that we can do to protect our private data? Some skeptics say no. I’m an optimist; I think there is always a way. Working for a security company makes us think that there is always a way to protect ourselves, to avoid danger, and to care about other users.

Lock your apps for privacy with avast! Mobile SecurityI’ve being collecting info for what I call the 10 Commandments for mobile privacy. Here are simple steps to help protect your privacy:

  1. 1. Use a PIN, password or pattern in your device. I’m lucky to have a phone where the numbers change their position on the screen and make the lockscreen even more secure. There are some apps that make your password “random” (obeying rules you’ve previously set).
  2. 2. Lock your most private apps. Lock your log in data but also your own messages, emails, personal notes, contacts, everything is in your pocket. offers the feature to secure even more sensitive parts of your device with the avast! Mobile Security App Locker that automatically asks for a PIN when you start the app.
  3. 3. Do not save banking or credit card credentials in your phone or, at least, not in the mobile browsers. Some banks, at least here in Brazil, have their own mobile app that never saves the passwords or PINs. Now, for Android, there are free password managers that adds a new security layer while browsing.
  4. 4. Do not be a happy clicker. People who expose themselves to scams or spam links, who download each single app they see from any kind of source put themselves at risk. OK, you’ll say this is not you. But, do you think twice on clicking in social media links or shares?
  5. 5. Do not take, send, save or share nude photos. No, this is not a moral commandment. It’s a privacy one. Read more…
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May 1st, 2014

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer (and Windows XP too!)

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer bugWe informed you a few days ago about a new vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over your PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11. AVAST took immediate action and issued a new definition update which addresses this specific vulnerability and protects our users running Internet Explorer.

Today Microsoft announced that they would release a security update to address the issue affecting Internet Explorer.  Most customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. Microsoft advised those manually updating, to apply this update as quickly as possible, “now is the time,” wrote spokesperson Dustin Childs in the bulletin.

To enable Automatic Update, open the Control Panel, go to the Windows Update and click the “Check for Updates” button. Find detailed instructions here.

AVAST continues to support Windows XP users.In a surprise move, Microsoft also decided to issue a security update for Windows XP users. If you read this blog, you know that support was discontinued on April 8, and you are also aware that AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users.

This doesn’t mean that Windows XP support will start up again. In fact, Microsoft encourages “customers to migrate to a modern operating system.”  On a company blog today, an executive wrote about Windows XP, “… the reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade.”

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. We suggest you make the switch to Google Chrome.

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 business products.

April 30th, 2014

You dropped your phone in the swimming pool. Now what?

avast tips help save your wet phone

At least it wasn’t dropped in the toilet!

How to save a wet smartphone

It happened with me, I jumped in the swimming pool with my phone in the pocket. Unfortunately, it was not the first time my phone was drenched. Some years ago, the villain was the rain. I was using a smartphone app to monitor my running pace and it started to rain. Not a light refreshing rain – no, a deluge, a Heavy rain. My phone was protected, but that was just too much rain.

At that time, I didn’t know what to do and made the wrong decisions. Some modern phones are waterproof, but others aren’t, and an accident involving water can be fatal. I’d like to share these hints with you on what to do if your phone decides to take a bath.

  • The first thing you should do NOW is a backup! You’ve heard this before, but have you done anything about it? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Your photos, videos and musics, your apps and game data – everything could literally sink in water. We offer a simple, yet easy solution: avast! Mobile Backup protects your data against such accidents. Try now the free basic version from Google Play Store.
  • TURN YOUR PHONE OFF If your phone was dropped into water, the first thing to do is TURN IT OFF. And not only press the on/off button, but also remove the battery and cards completely. It’s a race against time. Each second is vital to avoid an electric shock and motherboard crash.
  • Let all the water flow freely. The best position for the phone is horizontal over a table on a dry piece of cloth. Do not rub, do not use cotton, do nothing… Just let the water drain out.
  • Dry the device carefully. After that, take a dry cloth or some absorbent paper to dry the device completely. Hold it with the screen facing up to drain all the water that could stay inside. Try not to shake it.
  • Be patient. Have a lot of patience. That’s the keyword here. Keep the phone open for a long time, at least 24 hours. Some technicians recommend to put it into a pot and fill with raw rice (or gel silica, if you have it with you) to absorb dampness.
  • After 24 hours, remove all the rice (or the small pieces of gel silica) and have patience again. Leave it open and exposed to air. Do not use hair dryers. Do not put the phone directly in the sun, because you can do more harm than good (harm to the screen, battery, or even the plastic parts.)
  • Only after other 12-24 hours you could try to put battery again and turn it on.
  • Of course, if you do not have luck, you’ll have to take it to technical assistance. But we wish you luck and that your phone will work again!

Besides getting wet, your phone can be lost or you could get infected with the ever-increasing malware being written for Android. Protect your phone for free with avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus. Get it on Google Play. Don’t be one of these careless people who neglect to protect their phones!

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.

April 29th, 2014

Internet Explorer users: AVAST has got your back – for FREE

AVAST protects users running Internet Explorer.

Avast antivirus protects agains the Microsoft® Internet Explorer bug
Microsoft announced a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over a PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 and was published under the name CVE-2014-1776. Out of all the Internet Explorer users, Windows XP users are most vulnerable as Microsoft recently stopped supporting the operating system and will therefore not issue any security patches, including one to fix this problem.

AVAST gave its word to Windows XP users that it would continue to protect them: AVAST has issued a new definition update which addresses this specific Internet Explorer vulnerability, protecting its users running Internet Explorer.

Windows XP users browsing on Internet Explorer in even more danger

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft ended its support for Windows XP, terminating automatic updates to the operating system, and even worse it will stop providing anti-malware signature updates as of next year. It’s remarkable that it has only been three weeks since the cut off and its users are already being confronted with a major security flaw, which will affect and put Windows XP Internet Explorer users at risk the most… Will this now make Windows XP users migrate?

Windows XP users: We promised we wouldn’t leave you hanging

Prior to the Windows XP support end date, AVAST committed to supporting Windows XP by creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover XP vulnerabilities and security problems for at least the next three years. Currently 45 million of our more than 200 million customers use Windows XP. Of those 45 million, more than 20% run Internet Explorer and our latest update 140428-1 covers them from the CVE-2014-1776 Internet Explorer vulnerability. Even with the update, we urge Windows XP users migrate from Internet Explorer to another browser. The latest version of Internet Explorer available on Windows XP is version 8, making it outdated and lacking a number of security improvements that were already unavailable before the official support end date. We recommend Google Chrome as an alternative to Internet Explorer, as it is fully compatible with Windows XP, updating itself automatically.

Explore the Internet with caution

Windows XP users aren’t the only ones at risk. We recommend users always use caution and think twice before opening any links. This particular flaw accesses deleted or misplaced objects in memory, thus corrupting the browser’s memory address space. This in turn gives attackers the opportunity to execute code remotely by hoaxing users via email or instant message to visit sites specifically designed to exploit the vulnerability. Once Internet Explorer users click on the malicious link, attackers can gain the same user rights as the person currently logged into Windows. This means if someone clicks on the link while logged into Windows in the administrator account, the attacker would have full administrative control over the PC and the data on it.

AVAST supports everyone

AVAST believes that everyone has the right to protection while using the Internet and therefore offers Windows and Mac users free antivirus. We are devoted to supporting all of our customers and do not believe in turning our backs on Windows XP users. All AVAST Antivirus users with virus definitions 140428-1 or newer are protected against the CVE-2014-1776 vulnerability.

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.

April 28th, 2014

Digital snoop screams at baby through baby monitor

As more gadgets get WiFi-connected, there could be serious implications for personal and home security.

 

Secure your privacy by using avast! SecureLine VPN

Baby monitor hijacked

A new case of a baby monitor being hijacked was reported last week in a Cincinnati, Ohio home. Fox19 news reported that the Schreck family was fast asleep when an unfamiliar voice woke up Mrs. Schreck. She grabbed her cell phone to check on the wireless IP camera used to monitor her 10-month-old daughter Emma’s room. The camera was moving, seemingly by itself. A man’s voice started screaming, ‘Wake up baby. Wake up baby.’

This incident is similar to one that occurred in August 2013 when a disturbed stranger screamed obscenities at a sleeping toddler through the baby monitor. The bugs in the Foscam camera that was used have since been discovered and updates are on the company website. Make sure you update your camera’s firmware as soon as possible.

The Internet of Things

“Smart” gadgets like IP camera video feeds are used to monitor children, property, and pets. If the camera isn’t secure, a hacker or creepy Peeping Tom can use them to spy on you and your family, watch recorded images, and even find out when the coast is clear so they can break in. Other smart gadgets like home appliances, TVs, pacemakers, cars, etc. – are vulnerable to cyber attacks. This may be a low-risk threat now, but as more gadgets get WiFi-connected, there could be serious implications for personal and home security.

Tips to secure your home cameras against digital snooping

  • Secure your home wireless router. Look for a camera that supports current wireless security protocols, like WPA2.
  • Use a unique password. Don’t be tempted to turn off the password requirement on your camera. If you’re not sure what a strong password looks like, read our blog about creating strong passwords.
  • Use a secure WiFi connection. Your camera’s mobile app may not be encrypted, so using it on an unsecured WiFi network could give troublemakers an open door to your video feed or your password. Change the settings on your mobile device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to a public WiFi hotspot. Protect your privacy by using avast! SecureLine VPN on your Android phone or iPhone. If you don’t know what a VPN is, read our blog post explaining what a VPN can do for you.

The FTC has more tips for securing your IP camera on their site.

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.

April 25th, 2014

Will avast! GrimeFighter speed up my old PC?

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I have seen your ads for GrimeFighter, but I don’t know if it will help me or not. I have an old laptop that’s really slow. Will GrimeFighter speed things up? How does it work?

Yes, GrimeFighter will speed your old laptop up, and more than that. We are quite proud of avast! GrimeFighter and see it as a complement to the services provided by avast! Antivirus, so I’m glad you asked this question. Read what one of our customers told us after using GrimeFighter on her old laptop.

user testimonialCarolC

Here’s a summary followed by a short video on how to get GrimeFighter for your PC.

Why do I need GrimeFighter?

about_cleanNew PCs come pre-loaded with what we call Grime - all kinds of clutter and trialware. Over time your PC gets bloated with more Grime; viruses, spyware, pop-ups, and toolbars, making it sluggish and difficult to use. GrimeFighter comes to the rescue as an easy-to-use, and dare I say, even fun, fully-automated optimization tool designed so that even a novice can tune up his computer.

Don’t get put off by the word “optimization.” This isn’t those scammy products advertised on late-night television – AVAST wouldn’t be a part of such things. GrimeFighter is a product that we stand behind and believe will help our users extend the life of their machines. (Windows XP users, we’re talking to you!)

Read more…