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


August 14th, 2014

The Fine Line between Malicious and Innocent Apps: Part 2

Malware has increased on mobile devices 900% since 2011. As dramatic as that number is, as we explained in part 1 of this post, your Android device is unlikely to become infected with malicious malware.

Nowadays, cybercrooks use more subtle and insidious techniques to steal money and personal data from you.

hungry-ads

We explained about PUPs and snoopy apps that want too much information from you. Here are a few more sneaky methods that you should be aware of:

Information hungry ads

App developers are not the only information hungry players in the app game. Ad kits can be found in 80% of free apps. Ads are used to monetize free apps, just like websites display ads to monetize. Unfortunately, not all ad networks play fair. Some ad networks collect and share your personal data.

At the beginning of the year Rovio, maker of Angry Birds, came under fire for allegedly sharing user information with the NSA. They, however, denied this and stated that Ad Networks used by “millions of commercial websites and mobile applications” leaked information to the U.S. intelligence agency.

avast! Mobile Premium, the premium version of avast! Mobile Security, includes an Ad Detector feature. This feature provides full details of an ad network’s capabilities. Ad network permissions are mixed in with the app’s permissions, so it is difficult to differentiate where certain information is being sent and who is accessing your device. App downloaders should therefore always review app permissions thoroughly, as app developers are not the only players on the app’s field.

Empty promise apps

There are apps on the market that are not after your personal data, but are more interested in deceiving you for financial gain. These apps trick people into downloading something different than what they advertised. There are various ways this can be done with various levels of severity.

The most innocent of them being seemingly normal apps that when downloaded only display ads, not even offering the service they advertised. We found apps like this around the time of the World Cup. Games like Corner Kick World Cup 2014 displayed a white screen with ads popping up now and then. This is not necessarily malicious, but frustrating and annoying for the user. If the app had been called Ad Roulette it would be acceptable, but app developers gain a small profit from advertisers when users click on ads displayed within their app. Displaying ads continuously boosts the likelihood that users will click on the ads, thus increasing the app developer’s profit.

More malicious and misleading apps warn people that their device is infected, deceiving them into downloading either an app to remove the “virus” on their device or in some cases downloading actual malware. AVAST discovered an adult app, available on an underground app market that forced users to “scan their device for viruses.”. Subsequently, the app displayed a fake version of avast! Mobile Security, which in reality was ransomware that locked victim’s out of their devices until they paid up.

Apps that gain users by offering a solution to remove non-existent infections, on the other hand, may offer a legitimate app, like a security or other category of app, but the tactic they use to gain users is deceitful and unethical.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.


August 14th, 2014

Calling advanced Android users: Join the avast! Mobile Security Beta test!

Would you like a sneak-peek into our new version of avast! Mobile Security before the official product release? The opportunity is here.  We are looking for advanced Android users to participate in the avast! Mobile Security Beta test. This Beta test will run until August 31, so you have plenty of time to test everything. Your valuable feedback will be incorporated into our product before going public to millions of users, so your participation is vital.

Help our development team by being  part of the beta testing team. We need your input! :)

avast! Mobile Security beta testing

Android beta testers are vital to the success of avast! Mobile Security. Join the team!


Here’s how to join the avast! Mobile Security Beta test:

What we expect from you?

  • Provide us with your feedback on the new interface, with a special focus on graphical issues and issues with translations
  • Report all potential bugs you find, preferably with print screens
  • Give us your suggestions for improvements, additional features, and solutions

Where you can submit your feedback?

Every active participant who provides feedback will receive a 1-year avast! Mobile Premium license.

The new interface has already received praised from beta testers. We want to hear from you. Join the Google+ Mobile Security beta testers community now.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.


August 13th, 2014

avast! Mobile Security named Tabby Awards Winner and Users’ Choice

Tabby users_choice-2014 (2)The public has spoken! One hundred thousand votes were cast and avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus was declared the Winner and Users’ Choice pick for the best Utilities and Tools for Android devices.

The international panel of independent judges wrote about avast! Mobile Security, “One of the best security apps for tablets. Setup is quick and easy. UI is refreshing and simple yet functional. Capabilities and ease of use are outstanding. Very solid. This application is the complete mobile security package.”

The crowning achievement for the developers of avast! Mobile Security is the Users’ Choice award, given by real app users. In June and July, app users voted on the TabbyAwards.com site for their favorite app among panel-selected finalists in each category. The full list of Winners, Users’ Choice and Finalists, with links to download them, is available at TabbyAwards.com.

You ain’t seen nothing yet

The judges and users thought that the current version of avast! Mobile Security has a “refreshing” and “simple yet functional” user interface.  Well, it’s about to get even better!

Android Power Users: Join us as a beta tester and provide feedback on the new, improved avast! Mobile Security user interface. Visit the avast! Google+ page to join the beta community and learn how you can earn a free 1-year license for avast! Mobile Premium.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.


August 13th, 2014

The Fine Line between Malicious and Innocent Mobile Apps: Part 1

AVAST has more than 1 million mobile malware samples in its database, up 900,000 from 2011.

Yet the majority of mobile users seemingly have never been affected by mobile malware. Have you ever wondered why that is?

Unmistakably malicious malware, like ransomware or malware that is designed to send premium SMS behind users’ backs, is available on underground hacker forums. Yet truly malicious malware rarely hits the mass market, because they get blocked by security apps like avast! Mobile Security and are not tolerated on the Google Play Store. This protection saves the majority of mobile users from encountering malware, which is why mobile malware seems like a myth to many.

Android

While it may take time for mobile malware authors to successfully circumvent official app market policies, there are less malicious ways app developers are taking advantage of app users. These app developers are taking advantage of the fine line between malicious and innocent apps, using sly tactics to go behind users’ backs.

PUPs – Potentially Unwanted Programs (not as in puppies) 

Apps whose behavior blurs between malicious and innocent are classified by avast! Mobile Security as Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). Apps classified as PUPs act innocently enough to be considered as not malicious, but contain undesirable characteristics, which can be boarder line malicious. Their features can be used maliciously, if the app developer chooses to do so.

Information hungry apps

App developers are allowed to request access to certain functionalities and data on your phone so their app can function properly. For example, a map app can request permission to access your location, to provide you with directions from your current location to your desired destination. Some app developers, however, take advantage of permissions by either requesting additional information or completely irrelevant access from what their app requires.

In March, I found an app that did just this, and at the time of its discovery, it was available on the Google Play Store. The app was called Camera Nocturna, a night vision app that requested much more than access to the phone’s camera. By accepting Camera Nocturna’s permissions, the app also gained access to contacts and the permission to write SMS, which it used to send premium SMS behind users’ backs. The app has since been removed from the Google Play Store.

Always use caution when downloading apps, and pay careful attention to the permissions the app requests. If the permissions don’t seem to match the app’s functionalities, don’t accept them. Google has recently changed the Android permissions section in the hopes of making app permission requests simpler. Despite this, app downloaders should remain cautious. The change by Google groups permissions into categories. This allows apps to receive new permissions automatically, without being explicitly granted permission by the user if the permission falls under the same category as a permission that was previously granted by the user.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

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August 9th, 2014

Our pressing need for ‘now’ does not translate to a want for security breaches

instant-gratificationRecode is running a series leading from its “I want it now” piece about people who have grown accustomed to having their desires met on a whim through the aid of savvy entrepreneurs and tech innovators eager to cash in.

We can all relate to “I want it now”.

I feel myself growing impatient in coffee shops when someone has found a spot to connect their laptops or mobile devices to power points – and I have not. As we often spend hours in the one coffee shop sipping from the same latte we ordered more than an hour ago, it’s inevitable from time to time that we’ll want to check our personal affairs.

What’s happening on facebook? I should message my friend. Let’s browse my favorite news and music sites – that concert looks good, I think I’ll buy a ticket. What, my credit card has been rejected? Best do some online banking.

This type of activity in public spaces can be open playing field for the ill-intentioned: The hacker or the “steal your data” money or identity thief.

We would all agree the “I want it now” mentality does not include: ‘I want’ cyber snoops and criminals ‘now’.

We’ve heard the warnings about our mobile devices – the smartphone is a walking computer in your back pocket, and yet one that can easily be lost or stolen. The plethora of text messages, contact lists, photos, online search history – all this information can be found and used against us if it falls into the wrong hands – even when wiped (as our recent blogpost shows).

Hackers are also targeting our mobile devices with malicious malware. Read more…


August 7th, 2014

Russian hackers steal 1 billion passwords – now what?

Change your passwords every six months or after news of a breach

Change your passwords every six months or after news of a breach

Reports on “the biggest hack ever” recently surfaced. A Russian hacker group allegedly captured 1.2 billion unique username and password combinations.

With this latest security breach, AVAST encourages consumers to take necessary precautions. Change your passwords immediately and if you’re using the same password somewhere else, you must change it there, too. Choose complex passwords so it will be more difficult for hackers to de-encrypt them. In general, we recommend changing passwords every three to six months, or after news of a breach.

A password manager like avast! EasyPass helps encrypt and protect personal information online, with random, strong passwords. avast! Easy Pass generates complex passwords and removes the inconvenience of having to remember them.

If financial and credit card data is compromised in an online threat, AVAST advises users to monitor and check their accounts for unauthorized charges and to immediately report any suspicious activities to their bank or card provider.

Interested in reading more?

Try our articles on creating strong passwords:  Do you hate updating your passwords whenever there’s a new hack? and My password was stolen. What do I do now?

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.


August 6th, 2014

How to find the right avast! customer care option for you

howto2_enAVAST has built a business out of protecting people and their devices from cyberthreats for 25 years. In fact, nearly 220 million PCs, Macs, and Androids are entrusted to our safe-keeping. Our goal is to keep our customers safe, so if you ever need assistance with an avast! security product, we are available to help you. Whether you like to do-it-yourself or if you need someone to talk you through it, there are several ways that we provide customer care and satisfaction.

The support page on our website is the place to start.

For the do-it-yourselfers

FAQs

If you want to better understand how avast! products work, then visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find quick answers for yourself. There are guides to our antivirus products for computers and mobile devices, plus FAQs for our business products and programs such as avast! GrimeFighter.

Videos

The avast! Antivirus channel on YouTube has tutorial videos that show you how to purchase, install, and activate avast! products. The avast! Customer Support playlist has video tips and tricks that will help you when using avast! security products.

If you have a need or suggestion for a video tutorial, let us know in the user comments and we will create it.

Blog

The avast! blog is a good resource for how-to posts along with product news. You can search for your topic or look in the different categories for articles. The blog is available in multiple languages. Just like the videos – if there is something you want us to write about, please let us know.

When you need more help

Community Forum

The avast! Community Forum is frequented by experienced avast! users, developers, product managers, and sometimes even our COO, Ondrej Vlcek. You can search the forum for similar issues to yours or ask a question, even get assistance cleaning malware. This is a great source of information, but remember you are talking to real people, most of them volunteers, so be polite. Read more…


August 5th, 2014

Is free antivirus better than expensive solutions?

avast! Free Antivirus is top free antivirus in real-world testing by DTLavast! Free Antivirus is highest scoring free security product for efficiency and effectiveness in removing threats and protecting PC users.

When it comes to household economics, savvy consumers look for quality products at a good price. You can’t get a better price than FREE, and avast! Free Antivirus delivers on quality as well – often better, than expensive security solutions.

A series of tests conducted this April – June by Dennis Technology Labs proved that point. Windows PCs set up like your normal computer at home were exposed to real-world malware and viruses. avast! Free Antivirus was the most effective free anti-malware product in the top 5, providing the most thorough protection with an impressive 93 percent protection level. The average protection level of the tested products was 86 percent. With the exception of avast! Free Antivirus, the products that rounded out the top five require a license that costs money. Other free products tested were much less effective.

Two distinct tests were conducted: One that measured how the products handled internet threats and one that measured how they handled legitimate programs. In the tests, Avast protected the system against 93 percent of the threats; defending the system 82 times and neutralizing threats 11 times.

Simon Edwards, technical director of the UK-based lab, said, “…products that prevented users from visiting the malicious sites in the first place gained a significant advantage. If the malware can’t download onto the victim’s computer then the anti-malware software faces less of an ongoing challenge.”

Each product was installed on a clean Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit target system. The operating system was updated with Service Pack 1, although no later patches or updates were applied. Patching improves the security of the system and we advise you to keep all software updated. avast! Browser Cleanup can help you accomplish this. This short tutorial shows you how it works.

 

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.


August 4th, 2014

AVAST blocks all malware in real-world test

avast! Free Antivirus blocked 100% of malware attacks in AV-Test’s “Real World” detection test.

AV-Test-June-2014Respected IT Security and Antivirus Research lab, AV-Test, put 23 antivirus products designed for the home user to the test for real-world malware blocking and detection of false positives in June. The testing scenario replicated the set-up of almost a quarter of AVAST’s 200 million users who still use Windows XP (SP3, 32-Bit, English). Just like your antivirus protection at home, the products were allowed to update themselves at any time and query their in-the-cloud services.

av-test_cert_2014_Consumer_06Avast! Free Antivirus scored 100% in protection against malware infections, such as viruses, worms or Trojan horses. AV-Test used widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, including malicious email attachements.

Avast! Free Antivirus had zero false positive detections, giving it a perfect score of 100%. False positives happen when your antivirus software erroneously identifies a file or a download as being malicious. The test included false warnings or blockages when visiting websites or when installing and using legitimate software.

Our customers are concerned about the impact antivirus protection has on their computer speed when visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs, and copying data. AV-Test measured the influence of each product in daily usage. On a scale with 5 being the lowest possible impact and 25 the highest impact, avast! Free Antivirus has minimal impact on system performance, scoring a very low 8.

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.


August 1st, 2014

Security and privacy settings across your Google accounts

Google is the most popular Internet search provider worldwide. The name itself has even become a verb: We don’t look online anymore, we Google everything. Moreover, we use plenty of Google products not even realizing how connected they are. Gmail, YouTube, Translator, Google Drive, Photos (the former Picassa), Play, as well as Google+. The integration of Google products has became stronger.  Now we access our email, YouTube videos, images, documents, and social networks such as Google+ and YouTube using one log in and credentials. Therefore it is extremely important to ensure that all of accounts are set up correctly. Following our previous articles on Security on Social Media, on Facebook privacy, Graph search or your reputation online,  let’s take a closer look at Google products with a special focus on privacy of your social account.

Security and privacy for your Google accounts

Google+ is a very specific social network, very often underestimated by the users. Most Google+ owners don’t even realize that they have an account on the social channel! You might not use it actively, but  it is important to have your data and profile under control.  So let’s start with the basics.

In the top right corner you can start editing your profile settings.

Privacy settings G+

Go to the privacy section. One of the most important features here is a 2-Step Verification.
Read more…

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