Dealing with file formats is not really enjoyed by us. Usually the format designers haven’t had the security and parsing by foreign applications in mind, sometimes the specifications are hard to get, but, what is worst is the specification which claims something and then the major implementation does not follow it, allowing the bad guys to evade easily our strict parsers (as strict as specified in docs). We’ve already blogged about such problem in the past.
As I dealt with Embedded Open Type (EOT) in the past I have received some undetected samples from my colleague. It was EOT sample mentioned in this blog and some other sample downloaded by her. EOT is a compact form of OpenType font – it uses some special compression based on this specific file format to decrease file size.
Six months since its launch in the US (a pilot country), AVAST Free for Education covers nearly 2 million computers and servers belonging to over 1,400 schools, districts, universities, libraries, and other educational institutions. At market price, these institutions are saving $20 million per year by getting the AVAST enterprise-level protection for free. In other words, we are freeing up about $20 million of the schools’ budgets that the schools could use for the students’ benefit. Read more…
Avast welcomed students and professors from the School of Electrical Engineering at Czech Technical University in Prague to our headquarters on Tuesday, April 9. The visitors learned about Avast’s “freemium” business model from Martin Zima our Free Products Marketing Director, and heard 4 technical presentations ranging from “How we deal with large datasets” from Michal Augustýn, Senior Software Developer to an “Analyst’s Life – fighting cybercrime and having fun!” from two of our Malware Analysts, Martin Šmarda and Pavel Šrámek.
Thank you to all the students for your questions, open discussion and an active approach to many technical topics. And congratulations to Martin Burian who won a Google Nexus 7.
Already this year, we have hosted students working toward their MBA’s from Penn State University, Villanova University and the University of Alabama. If you are interested in visiting Avast headquarters next time you are in Prague, we would like to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
The begining of spring seems to be an unsuccessful period of the year for cybercriminals in Eastern Europe. There is recent news referring to a neutralization of a group of hackers by joint cooperation between the Security Service of Ukraine with the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) on the web. These hackers are responsible for the infamous Trojan called Carberp.
Due to this recent information, we are allowed to say that Carberp was as a mainstream Trojan that monitored the environment of infected computers and exploited remote banking systems. It was a robust modular malware that improved its capabilities by drive-by-downloaded dynamic libraries – plugins. It was not only successfully grabbing money from victim’s bank accounts but also the attention of security experts both in an industrial and an academic sphere (an example of a paper). Therefore there are plenty of references on the web considering the methods of a system invasion, protection by polymorphic outer layers and a persistence of the Trojan. We will try to fill in some gaps in the picture.
Carberp started its progress approximately in autumn 2010. Later in spring 2011 it was split into two main branches regarding the form of HTTP requests. Read more…
At Avast, we know how precious a good night’s sleep is. You can relax and sleep soundly knowing that avast! Antivirus is protecting your devices. From your family’s PCs or Macs to the Android phone in your pocket or tablet on your nightstand – avast! is guarding against prowlers, snoops, and thieves.
Check out the avast! Store for family-friendly offers on multiple device protection. And…Sweet Dreams!
How’s this for a good phishing scam? Everything seems legit:
1. From email is “firstname.lastname@example.org”
2. No misspelled words and has decent grammar (however, some punctuation inconsistency)
3. Copyright (c) symbol next to the university name
4. Gmail did not filter it as spam, but left it in my normal inbox
Yes, if I had ever attended that particular university, I might have fallen for it.
PLEASE NOTE: University of Texas has nothing to do with this email.
A picture is worth more than a thousand words.
Unidentified suspects “slightly redesigned” the office of Ondřej Vlček, CTO at AVAST. Check it out!
Results of the AV-Comparatives 2013 Security Survey (pdf) are in, and once again AVAST leads among consumer preferences. Since AV-Comparatives is an independent testing firm, we always look forward to what they have to say. Here are some highlights:
According to survey respondents, AVAST remains the most widely used antivirus solution worldwide, claiming first place as the most used computer antivirus in Europe and South/Central America.
We are also glad to report that AVAST is the only brand to be among the top three most-used brands in all four global regions surveyed.
At the time this survey was conducted, AVAST was protecting just over 184 million PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.
To make the above news even better, the survey’s respondents requested AVAST as their top interest for future testing. Read more…
Everyone knows that change is not easy. When a decision is difficult, people tend to go with the status quo or choose to do nothing. So when we decided to update the look of Avast for version 8, we first had to get through the challenge of change.
One of the most important aspects of our software is how it looks and how user-friendly it is. When our designers started working on the new look, they were met with some skepticism. I mean, how do you completely overhaul a design that 170 million users and hard-nosed critics alike publically admired? You start by putting it out there and seeing what comes back.
Beta testers get creeped out
When we had the private beta for our new avast! 8, the conversation was mostly focused on technical issues, but there was some discussion regarding the look of the user interface (the UI is part of the application where the user interacts with the software). Interestingly, the big smiley face drew attention early on in the conversation.
“These ear-to-ear mouths look totally creepy. This includes the smiley in main avast! 8 interface and also in the installer. “
“How about getting rid of the smiley completely.”
“The smiley is very childish . . . I vote to go back to the green checkmark.”
“there are some who like it…”
Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken
After taking the feedback of our beta-testers, our designers did some tweaks, including the smiley face, then asked Avast employees to take a look at a few designs including these:
Because change is so hard to make, especially when you like the old ways so much, we had a difficult time switching our vision from the previous familiar version of avast! to the new modern, simplified version. The comments skewed on the negative side at first:
“Both are ugly, but the first one is brighter, so the tiles are more separated from the background.”
“I don’t like them either. The second is a little better in terms it looks like rings or a snake…”
“Better no background than this. No offense but it looks like someone’s yesterday’s dinner. =)”
“I like the design, but I don’t understand the background.”
Several choices were given for the paid-for products, including this one, and again, we were struggling with change, but starting to adjust our vision.
These dark backgrounds stirred imaginations, and from the comments, you can tell that we have some SciFi fans among us.
“Background design je jak z nejake Sci-fi filmu. Uz si jen domyslet ty vetrelce uvnitr lodi..(Background design is both from a Sci-fi movie. Uz can just imagine the intruder inside the ship ..)”
“Sorry, but all of them look somehow like the walls of a wraith starship in StarGate Atlantis. Probably pure colors or a very simple pattern would be better.”
“To me they are indeed too dark and scary. The art is nice though, but suitable more into the Alien/Prometheus starship control panel.”
“Current themes look pretty scary. On the other hand I really like the idea of bringing in some ‘natural beauty’.”
Repeated exposure to the new look was prompting us to think about it – we thoguht about what was best for our users, we asked questions and wondered out loud how to improve the design. One commenter noted,
“I think all of them are good because they started this long discussion. So they raise emotions, which is good.”
Suggestions started coming in:
“Probably pure colors or a very simple pattern would be better.”
“Is the background going to be user-customizable?”
“I also don’t like that mixture of fonts used, especially that tall and wide fonts are combined.”
Dimmer switch not included
Finally, avast! 8 was released to the public, and a whole new set of eyes got to see it for the first time, arguably the most important eyes – our users. Many comments reflected that same reluctance to change that we noticed internally.
“The free UI really does need more contrast, but would I go back to avast 7 over aesthetics no, but avast 8 free hurts my eyes.”
“Big childish blocks that look like it belongs in a baby’s play pen. I love Avast and have been using it for over 5 years, the guts and glory have always been robust but this 2013 windows 8 look makes me want to barf!”
“I had to clean out my eyes with Scotch Whiskey, twice!”
“I wish the Free GUI had a dimmer switch.”
“Slowly becoming accustomed to the new GUI, otherwise it is the quality I have come to expect”
At least one person gave up completely and complained,
“I had come to know where everything was located and could get what I needed done very quickly. Now there’s a whole new GUI and I have to relearn where everything is. I’M DONE WITH AVAST AND WONT EVER USE IT AGAIN, free or otherwise.”
Others were more practical:
“It’s always disconcerting when old friends change – like Avast. I am not fond of the Windows 8 look but suppose I will adjust.”
“User Interface, who really cares, it’s hardly ever looked at except in screenshots or, when you first install avast!.”
“So who cares about the GUI. Just keep my machine clean ”
And some were fans right away.
“I just love the new UI, it’s much more compact ^^”
“I think avast! 8 is amazing. I for one love the new GUI of the free version.”
“i like the new interface……have to change every so often……as long as it’s avast-it’s the best”
“I absolutely love avast! pro v8. Great looking GUI. Great protection. It has everything I need and use. Nothing goes to waste.”
One member of the forum summed it up by saying,
“Some people just don’t like change but I think the new version is the best yet! Well done!”