For those interested in all things Android, I have some exciting news. AVAST Software has acquired ITAgents, the Austrian developer of the Theft Aware mobile phone theft protection and recovery system.
The acquisition strengthens AVAST’s technology base and gives us a hands-on security app designed for today’s Android-powered smartphones. Read more…
Last week on Friday September 16 – right ahead of the weekend – our servers had a good reason to celebrate. They were delivering a record-high 4.5GB of avast updates to our users EACH SECOND. AVAST has over 130 million active users, but of course not everybody turns on their computer every day. On average, about half of all users turn on their machine every day and receive an update. Friday was therefore not quite ordinary, as the 4.5 GB-per-second-traffic-fury lasted for 1 hour before subsiding to normal levels. Read more…
On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled more details about the future Windows 8 operating system at the BUILD developer conference in Anaheim, California and we could not miss out on this event! Avast has always been able to fully operate on every future Windows OS starting at the public Beta version and our users can rely on us regarding Windows 8.
Microsoft is going to redesign the classic Windows 95 interface and prefer a new “Metro” user interface which is optimized exclusively for touch-screen tablets. It will appear the same on laptops and desktops, too.
They will ship only one Windows version which will run on all Windows 8 PCs: Desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones, big screens, and small screens. No more separated OS versions like in the past (see Windows and Windows CE/Windows Phone variants). Every desktop application should now support both interfaces – and so will avast! Read more…
The second half of 2011 got off to a great start for AVAST Software (even if it was rough in terms of Prague’s “summer” weather, which been more like an out-of-place autumn). We began the third quarter with a record 165 million user registrations and (not long after launching our avast! Free Antivirus for Mac beta) in July we launched our new business security line. As for what’s next, CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt give a preview of our other upcoming security solutions here.
In other news, research by the AVAST Virus Lab uncovered an alarming trend in Adobe Reader version usage and a surprising percentage of Microsoft XP-based rootkits. Read more…
When I emailed the entire AVAST team about nominations for co-workers that they would want to see interviewed, I saw/heard “Vladimír Černík” more than any other name. It turns out that Vladimir was one of the first people ever hired by AVAST founders Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš, more than 20 years ago. It’s enough of an accomplishment, in modern times, to work 20 years in one place… but to watch a company grow from almost nothing… to over 150 team members, with more than 160 million users of your product… that’s truly amazing.
In the comments below, please join us in offering Vladimír Černík a warm congratulations on his 20 years with AVAST Software. – Jason Mashak
1. You’ve been at AVAST longer than anyone aside from the founders (about 20 years?)… how was it for you in the beginning, and why have you stayed so long?
I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I started as an assembler programmer, then I was programming databases for a while, and eventually I was helping (avast! co-founder) Pavel Baudis with the viruses. At the time I didn’t know a thing about viruses and I was gaining all my experience hands-on. And of course a couple of times I managed to massively infect my computer.
It was back in the good old days of DOS. There weren’t so many viruses around like nowadays, when you are cluttered up with thousands of new virus samples daily. Read more…
I can confirm that we at the Virus Lab “love” product specifications and documentation. My recent experience shows a discrepancy between MSDN and the real behavior of VirtualAlloc.
I’m currently revising and tweaking the memory management inside one of the emulators used in the avast! antivirus engine. The goal of my effort is to bring this emulated environment closer to the real world environment, thus I decided to make the memory management conform precisely with MSDN. But after doing that…. suddenly….. about a sixth of my test set (around 400 malware families in total) refused to emulate deep enough (as usual). And the problem was in VirtualAlloc emulation:
You’ve probably seen applications for generating passwords. For those who have not, this is how the process actually works:
- application for generating passwords is downloaded
- user runs the application and presses the “generate” button
- a string appears that looks something like this: I8kjH9s&ER1()G
- this string is used as a password for his Mail / Facebook / Twitter / …
And now, the user has two options:
- he’ll forget his new password immediately
- to ensure that the new password is not forgotten, he’ll write it down on a sticker and put it on the computer monitor. If the user has other computer-generated passwords, he will place this “my email” sticker on top of the existing stickers.
So what’s the deal? Why am I telling you this? Because in a moment, we’re going to learn how to create secure passwords – and you’ll see that you are going to change passwords more often than you have previously. Because creating passwords can be fun.
There’s a groovy discussion in the world of Apple about the security of Mac OS. I’ve seen this kind of discussion many times and in most cases it had a quite similar scenario. We won’t go through this entire scenario (although it could be fun), we’ll just summarize the core of it with one phrase that pops up in all these debates: “There are no viruses for Mac OS.”
Let’s take a short excursion through the history of Mac infections.
Half of all avast! users are running an older versions of Adobe Reader on their computers that are vulnerable to a variety of malware attacks.
The avast! Virus Lab found that 49.41% of avast users were using the older Adobe Reader versions as of end-April. The number was also surprisingly stable, dropping by around five percentage points from the early March level of 55.71%.
“The numbers were a surprise to us,” said Jiri Sejtko, head virus analyst. Read more…
avast! Virus Lab… I once went to their floor accidentally, thinking it was my floor – it was dark and scary, and so I quickly turned and ran out. These folks are like mad scientists, practicing alchemy in white laboratory coats that are stained with hard-drive smoke and smell of burnt ones & zeros. They’re mostly nocturnal – like cyborgian vampires – and yet they’re always awake, online and available for ‘chat’ or email, even in daylight.
Or at least that’s partly the stereotype I had when I started at AVAST. After meeting and talking with a few “virus guys” at a company party, I realized they’re like every other department here… but just a little more reclusive… and thus maybe a ‘typical’ IT crowd. See here for yourself, as this interview is with a guy whose blog posts get a lot of traffic (even though someone of my IT ‘capabilities’ rarely understands anything he writes about). –Jason Mashak
1. You started at AVAST about 6 years ago, while still attending university – what was it like already working for a top antivirus provider while still a student?
I was a young chemistry student (which seems removed from IT, but even AVAST co-founder Pavel Baudis studied the same subject, at the same university ) with no previous job experience or references. Most of the aspects of IT (including reverse engineering, programming in various languages, cryptography, etc.) were my hobby, and thus it was no problem to work for ALWIL [former name of AVAST Software, until 2010]. I had no clue what the business was about – it took me roughly a year to fully understand how a two-person project could become a successful company Read more…