Question of the week: I just read your blog post about the Reveton virus. My computer was locked and held for ransom by something similar. I finally got it fixed and downloaded avast! 2014. How can I prevent that from happening again?
We’re sorry to read that you experienced “ransomware” firsthand. While this type of malware has not been very common, it has proven to be effective, so its incidence is on the rise. There are variations on ransomware, but all are designed to frighten or shame the victim into paying a fee to have their computer returned to normal operation. One variation uses a popup to say a virus has been detected on your computer and you have to pay to get it removed. The FBI MoneyPak Virus threatened American users with prosecution because child pornography was allegedly found on the machine. German users got hit by a similar attack recently. A hefty fine of about $300 could make it right again (or not).
Ransomware has been found all over the world, but cybercrooks are making it scarier by targeting it locally. So if you live in Hawaii (first of all, lucky you), you may receive something that looks like this. It looks pretty serious, and can spook users into thinking something is very wrong.
What do you do if your computer is attacked?
Ransomware has been reported by consumers, but it’s also been found in business environments. If you receive something like this on your work computer, please notify your IT specialists. They will need to take action to protect the network, and investigate how the attack occurred. Remember, do not do anything the on-screen message instructs you to do – never share data and do not pay any so-called fines.
If you find yourself infected with malware, it’s a major headache with many lost hours and sometimes irreparable damage. With this in mind, you can use avast! Rescue Disk, included in all avast! 2014 products, to create an image of your avast! installation. This image can be saved either on a USB, CD or DVD. That way if anything nasty happens to the PC, you will have the disk image ready to clean and restore your PC to normal function. The avast! Rescue Disk is built on Windows PE (pre-installation environment) which allows you to boot a PC even when there is no functioning Operating System. The Rescue Disk function is an integral part of the new remediation module introduced by the new 2014 version.
Here are complete instructions for Creating and using avast! Rescue Disk.
For those of you who are more visual, here’s a video ‘How-to’ from AVAST Evangelist, Bob G.
A few weeks ago, I discovered and Julia warned you about a fake AVAST application which was infecting smartphones. It was hidden behind adult apps and was pretty nasty. Here is some detailed information about it.
First of all, if you look for adult applications (also known as pleasure applications J ), you can find tons of them. Some apps, especially those offered on unofficial markets, are infected by malware; in the case of the fake AVAST app, it was ransomware. The same scenario commonly plays out – after installation when you play the application for the first time, you get infected and blocked from using your phone. The app asks for money to unblock you phone. That’s typical ransomware behavior.
The clues are easy to spot
You are looking for a adult application and run across something called AVASTME.NOW. What the hell is going on here, you might think? The fact that an adult app is named after the world’s most trusted antivirus might be your first clue that something is wrong. But you install the app, even though it’s a pretty weird name for an app designed for adults. Luckily, after the installation you get an icon on your device called Porn Hub, so you start to feel satisfied you actually got what you were looking for. So let’s play it!
But this satisfied feeling does not stay forever. After the first few clicks, the application announces your phone must be checked for viruses. That‘s the second big clue that something might be wrong. Normal applications do not check your phone for viruses. But you don‘t have any choice, so you continue. That’s when you see a fake avast! Mobile Security interface which is almost identical to the original.
Here comes a third clue for sharp-eyed users: All the detections you see on the screen use a different format than AVAST. But it‘s already too late to stop the app. In the next step, you are asked to pay $100 to clean up your phone. And your device is locked.
Sloppy, but effective
This ransomware is easily packed, and it’s apparent that the creators tried to do it as quickly as possible. Strings of detections don‘t have any kind of background, and it appears that it used randomly generated names from multiple antiviruses, as you see in the screenshot below. They were even too lazy to clean up unnecessary icons from the package, so you can find a picture of a cat in it (maybe it‘s the unhappy cat of some of the creators? ) Even though the app was sloppily done, the cybercrooks were successful and earned/stole large sums of money.
This is just one example of the many applications out there waiting to steal money from you. It doesn’t have to be for adults only; basically any application might be misused against you. That‘s why everyone should be a careful and download applications only from trusted sources. Because malware like this is increasing, it especially prudent to use some kind of antivirus protection. We suggest (the authentic) avast! Mobile Security, available from the Google Play store. It’s free! You never know when you will get something like this, so install it today on your Android device.
The release last week of the new #avast2014 became a great opportunity to get our global team together. Members of the Social Media and Communication team met in the HQ of AVAST Software in beautiful Prague. Our team normally works remotely and its members are spread in different countries: Czech Republic, USA, Spain, and Germany. Finally, we all met at once, to work together, exchange ideas, and to celebrate.
Preparation for the release, coordinating communication, and organizing the international press conference as well as coordinating social media activities was our major focus. It was hard work but we found time to be together sight seeing in Prague. It was a great way to get to know each other better and simply have fun.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so check it out. Also, see the gallery of pictures on our avast! Facebook page.
The Social Media team concentrated hard on tweeting from the press conference. Live stream #avast2014!
AVAST’s Social Media A-team: Albert, Anna, (A-)Deborah and (A-)Julia
We had many occasions to celebrate: The new #avast2014, the 25th anniversary of AVAST Software, as well as nearly reaching 200 million users of our products. Read more…
It has been more than a year, since we last time reported about Reveton lock screen family. The group behind this ransomware is still very active and supplies new versions of their ransomware regularly.
Malware samples received in the avast! Virus Lab Wednesday show that a spoofed email which looks like it has been sent from AVAST is spreading widely. Fortunately, AVAST detects this malware as Win32:Malware[Gen] and has been blocking the virus since 12:45 pm yesterday.
The email’s subject header says, “Your Order details and Additional information,” and the email message contains standard text that is sent when a person purchases a license from AVAST. The message includes an order number that is not authenticated and does not exist in the AVAST database.
The sender’s email address is email@example.com. This is a fake email address and was not created by AVAST. The email contains an attachment titled avast-Antivirus-Order-Details.
Our worldwide CommunityIQ sensors automatically detected and provided information to the avast! Virus Lab about these suspicious files, and the new threat was detected and neutralized immediately. So far, our virus lab has received 12,500 malware samples.
Avoid this attack by downloading the new avast! Antivirus 2014 for free.
In one of our previous posts we wrote about browser extensions and their possibly unwanted effects on our customers’ computers. Browser toolbars have been around for years, however, in the last couple of months they became a huge mess. Unfortunately, lots of free software comes with more or less unwanted add-ons or browser toolbars.
These are quite annoying because they may:
- Change your homepage and your search engine without your permission or awareness
- Track your browsing activities and searches
- Display annoying ads and manipulate search results
- Take up a lot of (vertical) space inside the browser
- Slow down your browser and degrade your browsing experience
- Fight against each other and make normal add-on handling difficult or impossible
- Become difficult or even impossible for the average user to fully uninstall
Maybe you have already become a victim of unwanted browser toolbars. avast! Browser Cleanup was developed exactly for this reason; to help our customers identify and get rid of unwanted browser toolbars and add-ons. It is integrated in avast! 2014 and is also available as a stand-alone product on various download portals for use by friends without installed avast! Antivirus. Now, about 7 months after the initial release of avast! Browser Cleanup together with avast! Antivirus 8, it’s time for a review of the results. Read more…
In the 25 years that AVAST has existed, the goal has always been to protect people’s valuable data, residing on computers and mobile devices, from cybercrooks. Today, after all those years of experience gained from protecting nearly 200 million devices, we are proud to introduce our strongest, most effective product, the new avast! 2014.
“The new avast! 2014 delivers on our commitment to provide faster, better protection to the market,” said AVAST Chief Executive Officer Vincent Steckler. “It’s the culmination of 25 years of research and the experience of protecting nearly 200 million devices – by far more than any other antivirus product.”
AVAST Software co-founder, Eduard Kučera, introduced free antivirus protection years ago because he believed that all computer users deserve protection from harmful threats, and that computer safety should not be a luxury only a few can afford. AVAST has never strayed from the vision of offering a high-end antivirus product for free while building a wide user base. This user base now comprises the largest crowdsourced data pool in the world.
Community IQ – The largest crowdsourcing in the world
Protection starts with award-winning AVAST technology, but is amplified and improved by the feedback that our huge user base supplies. AVAST uses crowdsourced analysis called Community IQ to identify and isolate malware found in suspicious files and programs. Nearly 200 million devices worldwide automatically detect and report blacklist and whitelist applications and websites, along with tens of thousands of people who regularly provide us with vital information and feedback through the avast! user forum each day.
These enormous channels of communication give AVAST a distinct advantage in terms of the technical data we are able to use. Our users quickly send information to our Virus Lab experts who immediately start tracking the scope and severity of viruses. The analysis results provide the basis for “streaming updates” that we send to our global user base.
Continuous streaming updates
All that information sent from our Community IQ, allows the avast! Virus Lab to send streaming updates around the clock. These nearly instantaneous updates are malware detection “signatures” as well as advanced detections numbering in the hundreds per day.
“avast! 2014 is a big step forward,” said AVAST Chief Technology Officer Ondřej Vlček. “We now stream more than 250 micro-updates to active devices each day to improve zero-day detection and prevention. By protecting the most devices we have the best insight into the threat landscape, and that translates into better protection for our users.”
The 2014 version is available in four consumer variations – avast! Free Antivirus, avast! Pro Antivirus, avast! Internet Security, and avast! Premier – and in more than 40 languages. AVAST also provides world-class protection for businesses and mobile devices.
The Czechs love their beer. Monks living in the region started brewing in monasteries just a few centuries AD. The Czechs gave the gift of Pilsner to the world back in the mid-1800s, and ever since then citizens have supported their own industry by consuming more beer per capita than any other country in the world. These days, Czechs drink on average about 161 liters of beer per person each year. Not surprising when bottled beer is cheaper than bottled water!
“Beer is known to free up your brain for creative problem solving,” said Jindřich Kubec, Director of Threat Intelligence, “and since AVAST has some of the highest detection ratings of any antivirus out there, it shows that we are doing lots of “problem solving.”
Back in the day, refined sugar came in unwieldy big blocks that had to be sawed at, hacked, and cut through. This physical effort resulted in numerous boo-boos and aching fingers holding onto dainty tea cups (Czechs don’t always drink beer ). One day, the wife of Jakub Kryštof Rad, the man who ran the local sugar refinery, grew tired of having to bandage her appendages every time she wanted a little sweetener. She asked him why he couldn’t package sugar in a more manageable size for teacups. Mrs. Rad inspired her husband to create what we know today as sugar cubes.
“Speaking of sugar,” said Vladimir Saur, Traffic Manager at AVAST, “every day someone brings chocolate to the office, and we are living proof that dark chocolate improves brain function. Well, only when our boss leaves us at least a little bit!”
As unique as a fingerprint
CSI fans will dig what 19th-century physician and scientist Jan Evangelista Purkyně revealed in his work in physiology. His discovery that all human fingerprints are unique and his subsequent classification of fingerprint patterns advanced criminology and forensic science. A century later, Czech scientist Jan Janský learned that human blood could be classified into four distinct groups, which led the way to the A-B-O system we use today.
“Just like Sherlock Holmes hot on a the trail of a “whodunit” mystery, the researchers in the avast! Virus Lab follow clues to discover what malware does, why it does it, how to classify it, and most importantly, how we can stop it,” said Filip Chytrý , avast! Virus Lab researcher.
Mick Jagger lights up the castle
You will think you have entered a fairy tale when visiting the Czech Republic. With over 2,000 castles, the country has the highest density of castles, ruins, chateaux, and villas in the world. The most significant of them all is the Prague Castle, the largest medieval castle in Europe.
“One of the attractions to working for our great company, is its location. Prague is a fairy-tale city with magical beauty,“ said Marcela Římalová, Senior Worldwide Recruiter for AVAST Software. “After the Velvet Revolution, The Rolling Stones were invited by President Havel to play a concert. They noticed that the Prague Castle was dark at night, so they graciously paid for it and four of its grand halls to be illuminated. It’s a view we still enjoy today.”
avast! Free Antivirus
Powered, no doubt, by Czech beer and chocolate, Pavel Baudiš, a young researcher at Prague’s legendary Mathematical Machines Research Institute came upon a sample of the Vienna Virus on a floppy disk. After he wrote a program to remove it, he showed it to his friend and colleague Eduard Kučera and, together they started what’s now the world’s most popular and trusted antivirus software. AVAST Software is celebrating its 25th anniversary soon and launching the newest version - avast! 2014.
“When we started this company behind the Iron Curtain in 1988, we could not imagine that it would grow to protect more computers worldwide than any other firm,” said Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš, founders of AVAST Software, “No one can say what the next 25 years will bring. But one thing is certain, the AVAST team – now spread over several countries – is talented, energetic, and committed to making sure that everyone in the world has access to computer security that works.”
Part time job available for a Social Media Community Manager
In March 2013, we started “hunting” for social media agents. A few months later we have our A-social media team of six specialists, covering the following languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, German, and Czech. We are however still missing the “Inspector Clouseau” who could help us to grow, engage, and communicate with our French speaking community across social media channels.
Do you blog, comment, respond, post, chat, like, re-tweet, add to circles, pin…? Do you monitor what’s hot on social media in your language? Do you have 2 hours a day that you can fully dedicate to AVAST social media? Can you be the eyes and ears of AVAST in your country as if your own reputation depended on it?
We seek a highly motivated individual with experience and fanatical passion for blogging, micro-blogging, and community participation to simply communicate with AVAST followers in your mother tongue. You will help us approach new users in your country, so we can spread avast! Free Antivirus across the globe!
This is a part time position – at least 10 hours a week
That will not happen to you
Most AVAST users take their devices with them to school and work, so we asked for security tips for people on-the-go. Congratulations to Bruno V. from Brazil who wrote the winning tip:
To spend the day with no worries in the rush of daily tasks you need to have the following:
By accessing sites and emails never forget to log off the user account to leave.
Never go to unknown links to check for new information, the rush at the moment you can access places where you usually do not enter.
When doing a search, be wary of information and programs that promise many things without much effort.
Have a program to secure permanent protection, accurate and reliable. In short, have AVAST installed on your computer!
While you take care of your routine, AVAST cares for you!
AVAST protection without worries! 24 hours of dedication to its main asset, you!
Some tips were quite practical, like this one from Val A. of the Philippines:
#1. In rainy days, use Waterproof bag when on the go
#2. Secure the laptop , tablet, smartphone with a password before login (don’t share your password with everyone)
#3. Avoid gadgets in direct sunlight (this is one of the basic protocol)
#4. Disconnect Bluetooth every after use
#5. Don’t let others borrow your laptop, tablet or smartphone specially those whom do you never meet before.
#6. Please. Read the User Manual, Guidelines, Safety and precautions of your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Thanks to all our Facebook fans who shared their security tips with us. These are valuable suggestions for cyber awareness (and rainy days) that we will continue to share with others. Bruno won Round 4 of our #SecurityTip contest and receives a Nexus 7 tablet and a 1-year license for avast! Internet Security. Five participants also won a 1-year license for avast! Internet Security for getting the most votes for their tip. Congratulations to:
- Celedonia S. from Peru
- Postolachi D. from Romania
- Alejandro C. from Mexico
- Abdul W. from Pakistan
- Reginald R. from Indonesia
During this month, we’ll talk more about cybersecurity with AVAST experts and share tips that you can adopt and share. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please visit our blog often and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.