Protecting over 200 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus

April 2nd, 2014

Declaring machine war against malicious Android packages

machine_war_theme_jpg

Do you know the notion “machine war”? If you’re a fan of the Matrix movie trilogy then probably, yes. It denotes the fictional rise of artificially intelligent machines against the human race and their violent conquest of human beings. We want to apply a similar dominance of computationally powerful machines, not to create a population of slaves, but against numerous malicious Android packages that wildly proliferate on unofficial markets.

The idea of malware detection with no human interaction appeared earlier on our blog. In a fundamental article about AVAST research activities by AVAST’s COO, Ondřej Vlček, he effectively described the technologies we employ to deal with Windows threats. Two techniques have been mentioned explicitly, Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen, both working with Windows PE file format. Sometimes the latter form of detection technique is denoted as weak automated anti-malware heuristic.

The main effort is to reach two slightly conflicting qualities at the same time: The robustness, which means that suggested methods cover as many threats as possible; and simplicity, so that the methods are easily implemented in AVAST’s mobile security solution. The search for balance between those qualities is assisted by lessons learned from automated heuristic for Windows PE executables.

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April 1st, 2014

Email with subject “FW:Bank docs” leads to information theft

In this blogpost we will look deep into a spam campaign, where unlike other possible scenarios, the victim is infected by opening and running an email attachment. In the beginning of this year, we blogged about a spam campaign with a different spam message – a fake email from the popular WhatsApp messenger. This time we will look at spam email which tries to convince the victim that it originates from his bank. The malicious email contains contents similar to the following one:


Subject: FW: Bank docs

We have received this documents from your bank, please review attached documents.
<name, address>

 

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March 31st, 2014

The Gray-zone of malware detection in Android OS

Does the title of this blog post have a mysterious meaning? Not exactly.

In this first part about the gray-zone of Android malware detections, I will introduce the Android:SecApk, a detection regarding the protection that the App Shield (Bangcle) offers to Android applications (.apk). This detection has a big sample set that is still growing. Some SecApk wrapped samples that existed or still exist in the Google Play Store and third party stores, can be seen in the table below.

MD5

Name \ Info

F1EF5B8C671B2146C2A2454ECF775E47

G锁屏冰雪奇缘之来自星星的你V1.0.apk

\ PUP – An application to promote a specific movie. Potentially unwanted because of the extended permissions that was requested.

Current Status: Removed from Google Play

10bd28d4f56aff83cb6d31b6db8fdbd2

Cut_the_bird.apk

\PUP – A game that have potentially unwanted permissions that they can drive to loss of private personal info.

05ffb6f34e40bb1cf8f9628e5647d5e3

aini1314langmanzhutisuoping_V2.5_mumayi_700e0.apk

\PUP – A screensaver application that has permissions unrelated with the purpose of the app.

d6b40bbb79b54c09352a2e0824c0adba

3D职业乒乓球.apk

\Pup – This application is a tennis game. Potentially unwanted because of the extended permissions that was requested.

eefd2101e6a0b016e5a1e9859e9c443e

eefd2101e6a0b016e5a1e9859e9c443e.apk

\Malware – This app steal personal data and SMS messages from the user.

 

The App Shield is an online service that, after a submission of an .apk, encrypts it and adds some layers of protection. The procedure of the encryption and protection of the apk will be discussed with more detail during the course of the second part of this blog post.

Starting with the submission process, a clean app named AvstTest.apk uploaded to the service. The exported .apk was renamed as AvstTest[SecApk].apk. In addition, apktool and dex2jar used accordingly to decode the .apk resources and convert the ‘.dex’ files to ‘.jar’.

Folder structure

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March 31st, 2014

Backup your phones and PCs on World BackUp Day!

Your world is on your mobile devices and PC: Your family photos, home videos, documents and emails. Unfortunately, you can lose it in an instance. For those folks who haven’t backed up their files, that means disaster. Today is World BackUp Day. Be prepared. Backup your files on March 31st.
backup_img

Did you know?

  • 113 cellphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day
  • More men (60%) than women (47%) frequently back up their data
  • Women are more at risk than men if their smartphone is stolen or lost, because they do not protect their personal data and information as well as men do.

back-up men_women
Back up your Android phone or tablet

Malware is a growing threat to the Android platform, but because of the small size of our devices, loss and theft is still the bigger threat. Men are more careful about the safety and security of their cellphones than women. We learned that curious fact from an avast! survey conducted last summer,  Lost or Stolen Smartphone: The Consequences are Bigger for Women Than for Men.

avast! Mobile BackUp is available for Android phones and tablets and comes in two different versions.

  1. 1. The standalone free version provides you with basic backup options: Contacts, text messages, pictures, and call logs.
  2. 2. If you would like to backup music, video, and apps, then you need to buy the Premium version. This can be done later, from within the free version.

Get free avast! Mobile BackUp from Google Play. After you install avast! Mobile BackUp, your current data will be backed up to your AVAST Account and Google Drive.

Back up your PC

avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to backup your entire computer or select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. You can choose the storage capacity you need, and for a few bucks a month, rest assured that your files are safe in case disaster strikes.

Try avast! BackUp free for 30 days. During that time, you’ll get 25 GB for your files.

March 31st is World Backup Day. Take the pledge now, then take action:

I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.

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.

March 28th, 2014

How to watch American TV when traveling overseas

Question of the week: I don’t want to miss my team play basketball in the March Madness tournament, but I have to go on a business trip to Europe next week. How can I watch US TV when I am traveling overseas?

AVAST_March Madness

This is a great question. TV has never been better, so it’s hard to miss an episode of The Walking Dead or House of Cards when traveling. As for sports – OMG! when you’re team is doing great (Go Gators!), it’s not enough to just read about it online. For our friends outside the USA, March Madness, the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, is in full swing and fans are following closely (think the UEFA Champions League or World Cup.) College basketball fans eagerly follow as 64 teams progress through the rounds to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and at last, the championship game known as “The Big Dance.”

IMG-georestrictionsmWhen in the U.S., you can watch on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV, as well as live stream current games and replays through the NCAA March Madness Live web site and downloadable app for mobile devices. But when you’re out of the country, you often don’t have access because of geo-restricted content. You may have seen messages similar to this one from YouTube, that says, “This video is not available in your country.”

20140326_avast_secureline_securely connected via USUse a VPN service to access geo-restricted content

Many expats and travelers use a VPN service to access streaming services while living or traveling in foreign countries.  The VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to securely connect to a server of your choice, so that it acts as a “proxy” from a different location than where you are.

avast! SecureLine VPN is one of those services. If you are traveling in Europe, then select a server in the U.S. to access geo-restricted sites. When you log on to CBS, Netflix, Hulu, etc, the service will identify the server as coming from the correct location, and allow you to log on.

VPN adds security when using free WiFi

Another benefit of VPN when traveling is the security you get when using free WiFi at hotels and airports. The VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything –  inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since the VPN masks your IP address. Read more about the security aspect in our previous blog, avast! SecureLine protects your Android or iPhone from cybercriminal surveillance.

How to get avast! SecureLine VPN

avast! SecureLine VPN is completely integrated into all of AVAST’s free and premium products and is available for Android and iOS devices and PCs.

avast! SecureLine VPN is available as a monthly or yearly subscription for Android on Google Play, PCs on the avast! website, and an annual subscription for iOS in the Apple App Store.

Ask a question

If you have a question about any of AVAST’s products, please send them to wannabesocial@avast.com. If we answer your question, we will send you an avast! Teddy Bear.

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.

March 27th, 2014

How does avast! SafePrice work?

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I am a long time avast! Antivirus user. After a recent update, I was surprised to see something new called SafePrice. I can’t find any information on it. Please explain what it is (and also how to remove it.)

Thanks for asking. We have received some questions and comments regarding the new avast! SafePrice and its functions, so we’ll clarify what SafePrice does and how we protect your data.

SafePrice is a part of the avast! Online Security browser extension. The purpose of this feature is to help you find the best offers among participating trusted shops and to notify you about cheaper offers by displaying a small bar on the top of your browser. This ensures that you do business with trusted vendor sites, and save time by having better offers on products presented to you, rather than searching for them manually.

All personally identifiable information removed in real time

SafePrice communicates data with our server; specifically the products you are searching for, and the URLs of the shopping sites you visit. All personally identifiable information is stripped from this data in real time, as it comes into our servers, so that the data is completely anonymous. We then check for more favorable prices or coupons with our third party partner, Ciuvo. Ciuvo never receives any of our users’ personally identifiable information.

How can I deactivate SafePrice?

When SafePrice is initially installed, you are shown a welcome layer which explains SafePrice’s functions, including how to permanently deactivate it. If you don’t want to receive SafePrice recommendations, you can disable them directly in the settings of the avast! Online Security web browser protection plugin. In the browser plugin’s settings there is a menu where you can remove the check-mark next to SafePrice, permanently deactivating it.

Ask a question

If you have a question about any of AVAST’s products, please send them to wannabesocial@avast.com. If we answer your question, we will send you an avast! Teddy Bear.

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.

Categories: How to Tags: ,
March 27th, 2014

Pretty women. Which one will infect you?

which_one_will_infect_you

Malware which opens pictures of attractive women to entice its victims has been around for some time. Last month there were more than usual, so I decided to research malware that pretends to be a regular picture, and the results are pretty interesting.

We looked for executable samples with two distinct characteristics: 1. .jpg in their name, and 2. no older than the last three months. About 6,000 unique files which matched this criteria were found. From these samples, we noticed that pretending to be an image is not a family specific criteria but we identified that Win32:Zbot is represented more than other malware e.g. MSIL:Bladabindi-EV, Win32:Banker-JXB,BV:Bicololo-CY, etc.

The important message is that most of these samples are distributed by scams which are sent by email or posted on social media sites. An example of an email scam is pictures below. If you are interested in what the social media scam looks like and how to protect yourself, you should read one of our previous blog posts.

scam_mails

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March 26th, 2014

Quality not quantity. Spammers you could do hell better than this

Spam_In any line of business – and I guess this is not only common sense but also part of any basic “marketing 101” class – you will learn that it’s important to know WHO your customers are.  So I’m surprised that in the spam-sending business the spammers haven’t figured that one out yet. And I mean it.  Their customer-understanding, user-insights and target-group-defining in general are just BAD.  In fact, it’s so bad that if they don’t get better fast they might just go out of business…

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March 26th, 2014

Cute, but deadly. AVAST minions fight Grime!

minionsThey might look like funny characters from an animated movie, but the avast! GrimeFighter minions are a deadly force against the grime that accumulates in your computer over time. This crack team of animated minions brings AVAST users new technology that speeds, tunes up, and extends the lifespans of PCs. avast! GrimeFighter is being launched officially today in 14 languages.

“With avast! GrimeFighter we’ve integrated exceptional technology into our product that will help users benefit from their valuable PCs longer, as the minions decontaminate them from unnecessary bloatware,” said AVAST Chief Executive Officer Vince Steckler. “We are glad to offer this new product to our users to optimize their PC performance and are sure our diligent minions will put a smile on their faces.”

The Minion Team

Officer Pete, a police officer with an over-sized mustache leads the team. Other minions with names like Zilch, Torque and Dale Jumpshot, Jr. wipe browser caches, look for hardware problems, analyze your Internet speed, and disable bloatware, such as unnecessary programs and software that may have been pre-installed.

Collaboratively, the other minions examine security settings of popular applications and wireless networks, analyze the PC’s memory, hard drive, CPU and files to provide the user with a report at the end of the scan. The report is straightforward, with an option of viewing more detailed results.

Spring clean your PC

grimefighter resultsYou can scan your PC for free using avast! GrimeFighter, then pay for removal of the Grime reported. avast! GrimeFighter is available as a feature in avast! Antivirus 2014 and also as a standalone application. If you don’t have avast! Antivirus 2014, you can download it for free or purchase it from the AVAST website.

People investing in avast! GrimeFighter to make their PCs run like new again will see instant performance increases that prolong the life of their computers.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

March 26th, 2014

Barack Obama … soon the last Blackberry user ?

Barack_ObamaIf you are a smartphone user and take pride in the phone brand you are using (yes, most users do…) you have for sure noticed the 5-day media frenzy over president Barack Obama’s alleged switching from Blackberry to Samsung… that was promptly denied by the White House and of course by Blackberry, as well. Here’s a taste of the newspaper stories…

 

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