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September 29th, 2014

Avast safeguards your teen’s smartphone

Teenagers are responsible for their smartphones. Help them keep it safe with a few easy additions.

teens-smartphone

Seven out of ten high schoolers take a smartphone to school. Not only are these phones being used for surfing the Internet or social networking, but they help kids navigate around campus, connect with teachers and other students, and follow streaming campus news. Many parents see equipping their teenager with a mobile phone as a safety tool and a way to keep in closer contact, especially if an emergency arises.

The first thing to do after buying your teenager a smartphone

Most kids are using a device with an Android operating system and no added security protection. The first thing you should do is to download a security app to protect the phone and data on it.

The newest version of avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus is out now, with a completely re-imagined user interface, making it simpler and even more user friendly than it was before. Avast! Mobile Security is free, and it will instantly begin protecting your child from downloading bad apps, protect against spyware and block malware, and backup contacts, SMS/call logs, and photos.

Install avast! Mobile Security and Antivirus from the Google Play store.

 

The second thing to do after buying your teenager a smartphone

High school students are busy people, with lots of activities, so it’s likely that your teen’s smartphone will be misplaced. Avast! Anti-theft is a stand-alone app that can be installed separately from avast! Mobile Security. You can use the phone locator features to find the lost or stolen phone, control it remotely, and lock it down.

Once you install avast! Mobile Security, you will be asked to set up the anti-theft module. You can read about that and the remote features you’ll have access to from your my.avast.com account in our avast! Mobile Security FAQs.

Install avast! Anti-Theft from the Google Play store.

Other things to do

  • Set up a password for the smartphone. This is easy to do and will serve as the first line of defense against nosy people and thieves.
  • Add important numbers to the contact list. Add your mobile number as well as a work line, grandparents, the school, and emergency contacts.
  • Know the school’s rules. If phone usage is prohibited during school hours or allowed only during breaks, that’s important information to know.
  • Talk to your kids about privacy. This includes a conversation about uploading photos and videos, sexting, and oversharing on social networks.

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

September 26th, 2014

What is the Bash bug, and how do I prevent my systems from being Shellshocked?

Shellshock is a newly discovered security flaw that has been around for 22 years, and works by exploiting the very nature of web GUI.

Shellshock

Working in the same way as SQL injection, Shellshock allows users to insert Bash (a Unix-based command processor, or shell) commands into a server via a web form or similar method, and exploits the very nature of environment variable handling, which is that after assigning a function to a variable, any trailing code in the function will be then executed.

Where the SQL injection vulnerability allows a hacker access to the database, Shellshock gives the hacker an authentication-free access to the server, which makes it much more powerful. With this type of access, one with malicious intent could create a worm that could multiply and reproduce the exploit across entire networks to collect or modify data, or open other security holes that would otherwise be closed. Though Bash does not natively run on Microsoft Windows machines, it can be ported, but it is not yet known if the vulnerability will remain present.

Ok, so I get it, it’s dangerous. Am I vulnerable?

Absolutely.

Why?

Because Unix has a much wider grip on our networks than most people can really appreciate. Due to its ubiquity, everything from routers and smartphones, TVs, cars and more could be exploited. Worse, is that many of those devices are very difficult to update. Your home router, for example, has control of all your incoming and outgoing network traffic, and if someone has that, not only do they have the potential to collect your data, but to enable ports, disable the firewall, and further their access into your network infrastructure. With that being said, if you are running any versions of Unix or Mac, and haven’t familiarized yourself with this vulnerability, you’re well overdue.

Luckily, many vendors have now patched for Shellshock by updating Bash, but at this time, Apple users should wait for an update.

I’m running Unix. What do I do now?

First, it’s best to find out if you’re affected. Specifically, are you running Redhat, Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS (v5-7) CloudLinux, or Debian? If so, then run this command and find out to see if you’re vulnerable

$ env x=’() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c “echo this is a test”

If you see the word “vulnerable”, you’ve successfully run the exploit and you’ve got some work to do.

Luckily, most Linux distributions have issued fixes, so you can simply run your update manager, but for those who haven’t, you can do so manually by running the following commands:

yum update bash

OR

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install bash

Help, I have a Mac!

Are you affected? Run this command from your shell and find out

$ env x=’() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c ‘echo hello’

Again, if you see the word “vulnerable”, you’ve successfully run the exploit and you’ve got some work to do.

If you’ve got Mac machines in your environment that can be exploited, you can disable the exploit by temporarily changing the default user shell. For IT administrators that have the know-how, get started right away – but for those that have to ask “how?”, it’s best to keep your eyes peeled and wait for an official update from Apple.

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.

10/1/2014 updated Unix and Mac instructions for clarity

September 25th, 2014

How to identify the warning signs of work-from-home scams

howto2_enHome-based jobs are attractive to people who are looking to supplement their regular or retirement income, those who want part-time employment, or those who want to save money on child care or gas. Many people have dreams of being entrepreneurs and working independently of traditional businesses. Cybercrooks take advantage of this to create fake offers for work-from-home opportunities.

Sharp-eyed avast! Facebook fan, Timothy B., shared a post that he received for a work-from-home scam.

Facebook work from home scam 1

 

The post says,

Good morning Facebook ready to start my day and start looking for 9 people that are very serious in wanting to change their live around financially who want to be there own boss?who want to work when they want ?who wanna make an extra $500-$2000 every week from home ?who serious enough to take the risk of $40 to change there life around ?yes with $40 you can how? Inbox me for more information

Work-at-home and get-rich-quick schemes have been around for a long time, first appearing in people’s real mailboxes, on TV, and in magazine advertisements. Cybercrooks have created variations of this scam to harvest email addresses and contact lists from Facebook. Social networking makes it easy to create fake profiles and identities quickly.

The grammatically-challenged swindler from Timothy B.’s newsfeed entices potential victims with the ease and flexibility of working from home whenever they want. The message promises big earnings, and all you need to do is make a $40 investment to find out how. This scammer will most likely try to get you to wire money and then collect your personal information.

Warning signs of a work-from-home scam

  • No business name or contact address – No legitimate company will advertise for jobs without stating their name, brand identity and physical contact address.
  • You’re required to pay a fee for additional information. Legitimate employers don’t charge a fee to hire you or to get you started. Don’t send money for directories or start-up kits.
  • Promises of exceptional earnings.
  • Claims that no experience is necessary or resume is required.
  • Asks for personal information like a Social Security or bank account number over the Internet.

Read more…

September 18th, 2014

How to make a backup with avast! Mobile Backup & Restore

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I have lots of photos on my phone from summer vacation. How do I back them up so I don’t lose them?
These days we keep everything from photographs, videos and music to messages and contacts on our mobile devices. This makes losing our phones a big headache. Unfortunately, most people don’t think of this until after their phone goes missing or fails. We asked our users if they back-up their data, and a whopping 49% said they don’t back up or don’t know if they do.

backup data

avast! Mobile Backup makes backing up your important data easy for you. In a few easy steps, you can backup all your files from the pictures of your last trip to the contacts and applications you keep in your devices.
Want to know how? Just follow the following steps:

  • Install avast! Mobile Backup & Restore from Google Play.
  • Once you have installed avast! Mobile Backup, you’ll need to configure your Google Drive. It’s as simple as clicking on the button “Set up Google Drive Account” and follow the simple steps on the screen to access your Google account. backup
  • Once you’ve set up your Google Drive, you can select items for backup. The free version lets you back up contacts, calls and SMS. The Premium version also allows you to back up all the audio and video files and also all your applications. When you finish the selection, click the “Continue” button.
  • On the next page, “Important Options”, you can select whether you want the backups to be made only through a WiFi connection in order to save mobile data, and configure the maximum size of the files which you want to perform that backup. Once you’ve configured everything, click Finish.
  • You are now ready to perform the backup. Tap the dark square at the top and avast! Mobile Backup will start backing up your files.

If you want to restore your backup when you change your phone, simply reinstall avast! Mobile Backup, click “Browse backup” and then “Restore all.”

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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August 6th, 2014

How to find the right avast! customer care option for you

howto2_enAVAST has built a business out of protecting people and their devices from cyberthreats for 25 years. In fact, nearly 220 million PCs, Macs, and Androids are entrusted to our safe-keeping. Our goal is to keep our customers safe, so if you ever need assistance with an avast! security product, we are available to help you. Whether you like to do-it-yourself or if you need someone to talk you through it, there are several ways that we provide customer care and satisfaction.

The support page on our website is the place to start.

For the do-it-yourselfers

FAQs

If you want to better understand how avast! products work, then visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find quick answers for yourself. There are guides to our antivirus products for computers and mobile devices, plus FAQs for our business products and programs such as avast! GrimeFighter.

Videos

The avast! Antivirus channel on YouTube has tutorial videos that show you how to purchase, install, and activate avast! products. The avast! Customer Support playlist has video tips and tricks that will help you when using avast! security products.

If you have a need or suggestion for a video tutorial, let us know in the user comments and we will create it.

Blog

The avast! blog is a good resource for how-to posts along with product news. You can search for your topic or look in the different categories for articles. The blog is available in multiple languages. Just like the videos – if there is something you want us to write about, please let us know.

When you need more help

Community Forum

The avast! Community Forum is frequented by experienced avast! users, developers, product managers, and sometimes even our COO, Ondrej Vlcek. You can search the forum for similar issues to yours or ask a question, even get assistance cleaning malware. This is a great source of information, but remember you are talking to real people, most of them volunteers, so be polite. Read more…

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 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…

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 19th, 2014

How to set up your smartphone for remote control

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I just installed avast! Anti-Theft on my new Samsung Galaxy S5. If it gets lost or stolen, I know I can use remote control somehow. What do I do to set that up?

Congratulations on your cool new phone! It would be awful to lose that! Now that you have the free avast! Anti-Theft installed, you need to set it up so you can use the remote control features to control your phone via the avast! Portal or by SMS commands using a friend’s phone.

Communicate via your online account

First, make sure you set up an account on our online portal at my.avast.com to communicate with the anti-theft installation. Once you set it up, you get an overview of all your devices protected by avast! security products and you can pair the devices with the online account.

To pair your smartphone to the account open avast! Mobile Security, open the Settings section and tap on the avast! Account. The wizard will lead you through the registration or pairing process.

Once that’s done, you can remotely control your mobile devices on which avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft is installed.

Control your smartphone with avast! Anti-TheftCommunicate via a friend’s phone

Another way to communicate with your phone is by SMS commands using a friend’s phone. To do that you need to specify one or two phone numbers of friends or family members who will receive the Anti-Theft notifications from your phone.

To add a friend’s phone number, open avast! Anti-Theft and click on Friends. You can add one or two phone numbers here. Before you leave the screen, you have one more decision to make: Go to the bottom and check the box Only allow friend commands to allow SMS commands only from the specified friend’s numbers, or, if left unchecked, SMS commands will be accepted from any number. If you change your mind later, you can remove that restriction, by de-selecting the option.

SMS commands to remotely control your phone

Using the SMS commands, you can silently retrieve details of calls made and received, copies of incoming or outgoing SMS messages, you can remotely lock your phone, sound a siren or even remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data if you do not expect to recover it. You can also receive continuous GPS updates so that you can track your phone’s location.

Get avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft for free

Install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft from the Google Play store.

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

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.