A press release from Panda Security, dated June, 21, 2012, properly goes straight to the point in its headline:
Panda Internet Security 2012 Ranks as Best-Performing Antivirus in Recent AV-Comparatives Evaluation
What the headline and accompanying ‘news’ fail to mention is that Panda scored among best-performing antivirus software in the AV-Comparatives test, but still only tied F-Secure for seventh (7th) place – coming in under Tencent (6th), Qihoo (5th), AVIRA and Sophos (tied for 4th), ESET (3rd), avast! (2nd), and Webroot (1st).
AVAST Software Announces Winner of its Latest Facebook-Based Promotion
To promote the release of new avast! version 7, AVAST Software ran a promotion for a lucky user to win seven days in ‘paradise’, an all-inclusive holiday for the winner to a destination of his or her dreams. To win, participants had to enter the promotion on www.facebook.com/avast and estimate correctly what the avast! active user base would be two months later. Surprisingly, eight participants actually got the correct number of 150,107,324 active users.
However, it was Daniel Santos do Nascimento from Maceió in Brazil who picked the correct number nearly 7 weeks earlier. “I thought of it like a maths test,” explains Daniel, “I looked at the last 6 months number of active users and used the approximate growth to estimate the probable next number – but to be honest, I was just lucky!”
Daniel, an avast! user for over three years, decided to let his wife choose the destination, “My wife has always wanted to go Rio de Janeiro and this opportunity has allowed her dreams to come true,”
Daniel, his wife and son are now planning their all expenses paid trip and avast is now planning a bigger competition to coincide with the registration of the 200 millionth user which based on strong growth could well take place in 2012.
Missing homework used to be blamed on the family dog, but now the focus has shifted to the computer. And sometimes – as this user note shows – malware really is to blame.
“My avast! Free version will not let me check teacher’s blogs at my daughter’s high school website. avast! just started blocking this site about 1 week ago. We can’t find any way on avast! Free to “allow” a trusted site. What do we do?” wrote a concerned parent from Harrison High School in Georgia.
The problem was not with avast! – the school’s site (http://harrisonhigh.org) really did have an infection.
“For unprotected visitors, it was the same schema as usual, says Jan Sirmer, analyst at the AVAST Virus Lab. “A screen with a fake AV appears in browser and forces you to download that AV and pay money for it.”
“The attack, not surprisingly , focused on WordPress,” he adds. “There were redirections to sub-sites at rr.nu. There we detected more sites such as cie69svoi.rr.nu and ordonv12ectorct.rr.nu. Those sites redirected visitors to a site with the rogue antivirus.”
In this case, the concerned parents did the right thing. Instead of switching their avast! off to they could visit this “trusted” site, they wrote a note to the AVAST Virus Lab. That likely saved them from installing a fake antivirus on their computer. Read more…
Germany leads EU in unpronounceable consumer protection
Germany has become the first country to enact a new EU law to protect online consumers against new types of fraud. One visible change will be a “Zahlungspflichtig bestellen” button on internet sites which translates into “order with an obligation to pay” button.
The law is designed to combat internet “subscription traps”, sites that lure consumers with a free offer but actually sign them up for a service where the real costs are hidden and conditions can be misleading if not fraudulent. By late 2012, customers at German ecommerce sites will have to click a button labeled “zahlungspflichtig bestellen” to complete their online purchases instead of the current “anmeldung” (registration) button.
The “Button Law” adopted by the German Bundestag is a result from EU Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights. And, it might be used as a model for the other EU countries to copy as the 2013 deadline on the consumer rights Directive approaches. Since Germany is the largest economy in the European Union, this new law might just have a knock-on impact on consumer rights that goes outside of the country’s borders. Read more…
Inaccurate spelling means more than poor marks at school, it is a billion dollar business opportunity for typosquatters. At a single IP address, the AVAST Virus Lab has identified 8,600 typosquatting sites, registered variations of well-known sites or brands. Two identifiable targets were the Craig’s List online classified ad service and YouTube, other site addresses were parodies of Hotmail, Google, and YouTube – basically everyone.
After going to one of the identified typosquatting sites, visitors are redirected to one of several hundred “quiz” sites where they receive an offer of a “free” prize such as an iPhone. The sites typically make money through premium phone calls, selling advertisements, and reselling the emails collected from visitors.
Spelling errors are a huge moneymaker on the internet. A Harvard research paper estimated that a major search engine alone could be making nearly a half billion dollars annually just on pay-per-click ads from typosquatting sites. Add in the other search engines and the revenue from the sites identified by AVAST, and typosquatting could easily be a billion dollar market.
“It is not technically malware, but it is online fraud and features like AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word have really let people get lazy with their spelling,” pointed out Jindrich Kubec, head of the AVAST Virus Lab. “The popularity of Craigslist with this one gang gives us a great sample set to demonstrate the types of spelling errors the bad guys are looking for.” Read more…
We like to think that the avast! voice telling us that our virus database has been updated is almost like a pleasant song, something to cheer us all up, reminding us that nobody needs to sing the PC blues.
So it’s great to know we’re not alone, and that our users also think this way. Here’s an example by “Ferrett Steinmetz,” an Ohio-based writer, who recently tweeted:
A quick read down Mr. Steinmetz’s twitter wall shows similar cleverisms about a large number of subjects. You can follow him on twitter @ferretthimself.
Running the customer service department here at the AVAST headquarters brings with it a huge variety of challenges – keeping over 150 million users satisfied is no easy task – and we see a whole range of emails from complimentary caricatures to concerning complaints.
During the past week or so, we have received some complaints and it appears that some of our customers are being targeted by a new scam. Luckily only a handful of customers have contacted us regarding this so far, but they report receiving phone calls from “Avast customer service” reps who need to take control of their computer to resolve some issue and who, for a fee, wish to charge them for this privilege.
I would like to set the record straight – here at AVAST, we never phone our customers (unless they specifically ask us to of course) and none of the partners we work with do either. We currently offer free and premium in-bound phone support for our English speaking customers (and also Spanish from next week) and we remain happy to assist as much as we can via email and our ever-popular user forum, but we do not make unsolicited calls – not for sales, not for support, and certainly not to try to scam our loyal customers.
We do always advise our customers to stay alert – online, and in this case, on the phone. Never disclose your credit card details to anyone unless you are specifically contacting them to make a purchase, never download software you are unfamiliar with, and never give access to your computer (remotely or in person) to someone you do not trust.
Stay Alert – Stay Safe
While taxpayers are the regular target of springtime malware schemes, this year the bad guys are aiming for the accountants.
A series of imposter emails are threatening recipients with the removal of their professional accreditation if they fail to respond promptly. The tax-phish appear to be from organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants(AICPA), Better Business Bureau(BBB), and Intuit tax services.
After clicking on the email, users are redirected through a hacked legitimate site to the final malware distribution center where their computer can download fake antivirus or another malware package selected by the bad guys.
This spam campaign started in the last week of February. A tax-themed attack is a traditional feature of March and April as Americans prepare their income tax returns.
The tax-time malware is the latest example of the BlackHole Exploits Kit at work – and shows that the bad guys’ graphic and language skills are improving. Read more…
How often do you receive links in your email box – and then discover that they are malware?
I get them frequently – and was even sent some malware by my cousin and sister(see blog.avast.com/2012/01/27/relative-exposure-to-malware/).
But this time, the link is a great cartoon – which reminds me of three important avast! features.
Sounds – I like the avast! updates. For people that do not want this information, or find them annoying, turning them off is simple. Just go to the avast! settings and then to the “Sounds” tab. You can even pick and choose which announcements to hear.
Links – Randomly clicking on links, even from friends, is an easy way to pick up some malware. This is why running the browser in the sandbox (only with avast! Pro and Internet Security) is a good idea.
Languages – Normally my computer is set to “Pirate English” but I try out other languages for fun. avast! comes in over 30 official languages plus an additional 20+ special versions such as “Redneck” and “Slaski”. To try out a different language pack, just visit the avast! website at http://www.avast.com/fun.
Since you asked for avast! Free Mobile Security (for Android) and we gave it to you, we wanted to celebrate its launch with our Community. Thus, from December 22, 2011 to January 22, 2012 we offered a contest where you could win 10 Samsung Galaxy Nexus phones and 300 free avast! Internet Security licenses.
Our contest question was…
We asked you to predict how many users of avast! Free Mobile Security there will be by February 10, 2012, 12:00 CET.
Responses showed us…
Roughly 50,000 contest participants showed us that we should actually do it more often. So even if you weren’t lucky this time, make sure you won’t miss our next one!
Results are finally in…
As February 10 is here, we can finally tell you that, as of today, we have 2 168 960 users of avast! Free Mobile Security.
Winners to be announced…
In the next 10 days, we will announce the 10 winners of Samsung Galaxy Nexus phones. Our winner will find his or her name in this format on our Facebook banner: Martin F.. And we will contact the winner via email, to arrange prize delivery.
The next-closest 300 responses will receive (via email) free licenses of avast! Internet Security.
If you participated in our contest and your prediction was close to our final number above, be sure to follow our Facebook page and check your email regularly!