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July 2nd, 2014

How to prevent unnecessary costs of AVAST SMS notifications when replacing your SIM card

avast! Anti-Theft is a separate program included in the avast! Free Mobile Security appYou can install it at the same time as avast! Mobile Security, or later, during a separate installation. Its unique capabilities help you recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the Internet by logging in to your AVAST account. The app can also notify you that your SIM card was removed, in case the device was stolen. All that will help you to control and locate your lost or stolen smartphone. Since its release, we have received many messages from all around the world, proving that avast! Anti-Theft has helped many users find their missing devices. A dramatic story with happy end came to us from the Humayuns brothers. They were attacked at a Pakistani market. Their smartphone was stolen during the attack. Luckily they were able to catch the thief using avast! Anti-Theft. Stories from the open road have also come our way from motorbike AVAST fan DuckyBoy and truck driver Steven B., who used AVAST to track their missing smartphones lost on the roads of USAWe even received a detective-like story from sisters Katharina and Nicole. Nicole’s phone was stolen during the trip to Vietnam, AVAST notified her sister Katharina that her SIM card had been changed and provided her with the phone’s new number. Using this information the girls successfully tracked down the stolen device (with a little help from Vietnamese authorities). Last but not least avast! Anti-theft managed to locate a phone that was lost for a year and a half, it traveled a great distance within Africa before it was found!

DiedreD-user-testimonial

 

However, we have also spotted questions from users who were surprised by the “extra charges for the SMS notifications”. Some thought the charges came from AVAST. Let’s clarify this functionality and explain, why mobile operators can charge you for SMS notifications sent from the avast! Anti-theft app.

Why is it happening and how to prevent unexpected costs?

Read more…

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July 1st, 2014

Avoid regrettable mistakes; proactively protect yourself

Even the most careful planning sometimes cannot mitigate human error. A week ago, a photograph of the World Cup Security Center showing the WiFi password on a whiteboard in the background was published on the internet and immediately retweeted numerous times.

Last February, during the Super Bowl XLVIII pre-game show, the Super Bowl security headquarters was shown on a television broadcast along with the stadium’s internal WiFi login credentials.

super-bowl-security-fail-620x463

These so-called “epic fails” are highly publicized examples of regrettable mistakes that every human on the planet is familiar with – because we all make them. Maybe not at that scale; but I dare say, that no one at FIFA or the NFL intentionally set out to expose themselves or their organization to danger.

It could happen to you

So let’s stop giggling at these public slip ups and talk about our collective failure at securing our own passwords and other data. Read more…

July 1st, 2014

TextSecure reclassified as a false positive

On occasion, even the most well thought-out systems can break down. In the antivirus business, we try hard to minimize something termed false positive. A false positive is merely a mistake or a false alarm. It happens when your antivirus software erroneously identifies a file or a download as being malicious.

The AVAST Virus Lab receives more than 50,000 samples of new potential viruses every single day. There are so many that we cannot look at each individually, so we use techniques with super-techie names like Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen.  (These techniques are explained in a previous blog post, New Toy in the Avast Research Lab.) When a file is confirmed as malicious, we add it to our virus database. With this amount of new samples, every now and then a false positive occurs. There is no way to avoid it completely, but we try to limit it and its impact.

Over the weekend, avast! Mobile Security erroneously detected the TextSecure app as a Trojan. TextSecure is an app developed by Open Whisper Systems that protects your privacy by encrypting your text and chat messages, which means that they can only be read by your intended recipients. The AVAST Virus Lab discovered the error, fixed it and sent out an update.

Unfortunately, wires got crossed between our Virus Lab analyst and our social media community manager, and the wrong message was sent to people on Twitter and Facebook who inquired about the detection. You see, at the same time as the TextSecure detection was being reported, another unrelated detection was made, and it was indeed a malicious file. It was a simple case of mistaken identity. Later in the day, we discovered the mistake and followed up by communicating it across AVAST social channels.

AVAST confirms that TextSecure Private Messenger is a genuine and safe application for Android, and contains no malicious scripts. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to TextSecure users and Open Whisper Systems.

Please be assured that AVAST does not intentionally recognize valid software as suspicious. The last thing we want to do is disrupt businesses or our customers. However, to provide maximum protection against genuine virus threats, false positive alerts sometimes arise.

howto2_enHow to report a suspected false positive

If you suspect that AVAST has incorrectly identified a file as suspicious, please submit a report to http://www.avast.com/contact-form.php?subject=VIRUS-FILE. This form will generate an email to our Virus Lab research team, and they will investigate it.

Before you do that, you may want to upload a file or a URL to online virus scanning service VirusTotal. This free online service scans the file against multiple antivirus engines and website scanners at the same time.

TextSecure protects your privacy

The fine developers of the TextSecure app deserve a happy ending, so we want to throw our support behind this innovative app. We developed avast! Mobile Security to protect Android users from malware and theft and have included numerous features to protect the privacy of our users. The TextSecure app takes that further by providing end-to-end encryption when you are communicating with other TextSecure users. It also keeps your messages away from prying eyes if your phone is lost or stolen.

Install TextSecure Private Messenger for free from Google Play. Don’t forget to leave a review and a 5-star rating!

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.

 

 

June 20th, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 and other popular phones vulnerable to “TowelRoot” Android exploit

avast! Mobile Security detects TowelRoot exploitsavast! Mobile Security protects from an Android flaw which leaves nearly all new smartphones and tablets vulnerable to attack.

Last week, a wave of articles about a newly discovered Android security flaw flooded the Internet. They sounded a warning, similar to this:

“A flaw in the Android operating system may leave many Android phones and tablets vulnerable to attack, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Google’s own Nexus 5,” reported Jill Scharr in a Tom’s Guide article.

Our Virus Lab did not waste  time and started preparing for the inevitable attacks. AVAST researchers dug into the subject looking for malware to make  sure that avast! Mobile Security is ready to protect our users. If you are an avast! user and your tablet or smartphone is protected by avast! Mobile Security, you are protected.

“Even though TowelRoot is not malicious itself, it may be misused as an exploit kit. Generally, TowelRoot can be used as a delivery package for malicious applications,” explained  Filip Chytry, an AVAST Virus Lab expert on mobile malware. “It’s capable of misusing a mistake in Android code which allows attackers to get full control over your Android device. TowelRoot itself is more a proof-of-concept, but in the hands of bad guys, it can be misused really quickly. For this reason we added it to our virus signatures, so Avast detects it as Android:TowelExploit.”

Android has not made an official statement on the security flaw, however our researchers confirm that even the latest versions of the operating system are exposed (version 4 and all higher). It is very likely that versions 3.0 can be attacked, too. For those who just purchased an Android device or don’t have protection yet, we strongly recommend that you install avast! Mobile Security, before taking any further actions. Despite the fact that some of the mobile providers claim that their devices are immune to this particular Android exploit, it is highly risky to leave your device unprotected.

What is the TowelRoot Android vulnerability?

Earlier this month a security flaw in Linux, the operating system which Android is based upon, was discovered by a young hacker known as “Pinkie Pie.” Soon afterwards, a gifted teenager, notable because he was the first to unlock the unlockable –  an iPhone at the age of 17, prepared a tool kit for potential hackers. Its instructions are available publicly to “purchase,” allowing even less advanced programmers to write a script that will use the exploit.

The potential exists for hackers to take full control; to simply root your device. So far the AVAST Virus Lab has not observed any massive attack, however knowing about the potential risk, our Virus Lab is ready for the attack. avast! Mobile Security is capable of discovering different variations of malware code required to exploit the bug.

Who is exposed and how to protect yourself?

Basically everyone who owns an Android device without proper antivirus protection, tablet or mobile phone, with any version of Android OS, including the newest one is at risk for malware.

In order to prevent this exploit, or any other malware attack, once you purchase your device, we advise to install antivirus first, before installing any apps, importing contacts, or starting to browse online. Our avast! Free Mobile security, as well as its Premium version are available to download and install from Google Play.

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.

June 19th, 2014

How to use avast! Ransomware Removal?

howto2_enEarlier this week AVAST released a new Android app called avast! Ransomware Removal that will remove SimplLocker from infected devices.

SimplLocker blocks access to files on infected mobile devices by encrypting them. Without our free ransomware removal tool, infected users have to pay $21 to regain access to their personal files. SimplLocker  is the first ransomware that actually encrypts  files, so we developed a free tool for people to restore them. – said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer at AVAST Software.

After being available on Google Play for a few days to the public, the app has already been received with huge enthusiasm. We, however, spotted some questions regarding the tool on social media and addressed to our support team. In this article we will explain, how to install, run the tool and why it is important to uninstall it after AVAST has done its job!

1. How can I install the avast! Ransomware Removal tool, if my mobile is already being blocked by the malware? Read more…

June 18th, 2014

Google Play Store changes opens door to cybercrooks

mobile appsLast week, Google upgraded the Android app section of its store and introduced a new way for users to manage permissions. Google claims it will be easier  for users to understand and that users will pay more attention to app permissions. The new interface has a cleaner look and the common user can now install apps more quickly. But does this simplicity come with a price?

Android controls the security and the amount of access every app is granted by using “permissions”. Each action has to ask the operating system for permission to take a new action. In older versions, when an app update asked for new actions or requested additional permissions, Google Play would notify the user prompting them to explicitly accept or deny the new action. Even if the user had automatic updates set, in the cases of new permissions being asked, the user would need to manually perform the update. Even if the user wasn’t exactly sure what they were giving permission for, at least the user was aware and could make the decision themselves. Security was preserved.

Everything is different now

Everything changed last week.

Individual permissions, which could range from important to trivial, are now joined into 13 groups, including a catch-all called “Other”. Now the user has to accept a “new group” change. This means that if you have already allowed certain permissions within a group, then any other permission within that group will automatically be allowed. For example, an app that could access your calendar can now also read your contacts. If you set a meeting and have invited people by email, the app will be able to use the calendar to send emails to them, even without your consent!  Read more…

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June 17th, 2014

AVAST kills Android ransomware with new app

avast! Ransomware Removal app eliminates Android ransomware and unlocks encrypted files, for free!

ransomware-removal-suitcase

Ransomware, the terror of Windows that locks computers, encrypts the files, then demands a hefty payment to unlock them, has made its way to Android smartphones.

“The ransomware problem is growing like hell – and it’s no longer just threatening users – the new versions actually do encrypt your files,” said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer at AVAST Software.

AVAST Software just released a new app called avast! Ransomware Removal that will eliminate the malware from an infected device. Get it free for your Android smartphone and tablet from the Google Play Store.

avast! Ransomware Removal will tell you if your phone has ransomware on it. If you are infected, it will eliminate the malware. Android users who are clean, can use the free app to prevent an infection from happening.

This short video shows you what actually happens when ransomware infects your Android smartphone.

The next wave of attacks

Savvy malware writers know where the next round of victims can be found. With Android at a whopping 80% worldwide market share, as well as “billions” of remaining mobile subscribers ready to upgrade to smartphones, the targets are numerous.

After detecting the massive growth of ransomware on PCs, this spring AVAST Virus Lab researchers saw the malware migrating to the Android platform. Analysts identified fake government mobile malware, and early this month a new ransomware called SimplLocker proved to be successful. This proof-of-concept worked so well encrypting photos, videos, and documents stored on smartphones and tablets, that the Virus Lab immediately ordered a tool from our mobile development team to combat it - avast! Ransomware Removal.

SimplLocker blocks access to files contained on mobile devices. Without our free ransomware-removal tool, infected users have to pay $21 to regain access to their personal files,” said Vlcek. “SimplLocker is the first ransomware that actually encrypts these files, so we developed a free tool for people to restore them.”

Find. Kill. Prevent.

Install avast! Ransomware Removal to find out if your Android devices are infected and to get rid of an infection. Anyone infected by SimplLocker, Cryptolocker, or any other type of ransomware can download the free avast! Ransomware Removal tool, and then install the app remotely on the infected device. Once installed, you can easily launch the app to scan the device, remove the virus, and then decrypt your hijacked files.

To keep your devices protected from Cryptolocker, SimplLocker, and other ransomware, make sure to also install avast! Free Mobile Security & Antivirus from the Google Play store. It can detect and remove the malware before it is deployed.

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.

 

May 27th, 2014

How to wipe the data from my lost smartphone

howto2_enQuestion of the week: My phone was lost and there is no way to recover it. Thank goodness I had the data backed up. How do I use avast! Mobile Security to wipe all my information off of it?

We’re sorry that you lost your phone. You are not alone. Over one hundred smartphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day, but unfortunately 34% of smartphone owners haven’t protected their phone like you did. Congratulations on taking the initiative to back-up your data! We found out that half of smartphone owners don’t back up their data, even though they are concerned about losing it. (This seems to be theme – same thing happens with changing passwords.)

Many smartphone owners do not have anti-theft installed

Half of smartphone owners don't backup their data

If there’s no way to recover the device, then you are wise to use avast! Mobile Security to remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data.

Thorough wipe

Avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft has remote features that allow you to take certain actions. Wiping the phone can be carried out by SMS command. This is useful in your case when you do not expect to get your phone back and you do not want a thief to access your personal data. Read about how you can set up remote control on your Android phone.

Thorough wipe allows avast! to permanently and irreversibly delete the content of any SD card when wiping the phone. Wiping smartphones using up to Android 2.1 is somewhat restricted as a factory reset of the phone is not possible. However, avast! will try to delete as much as possible, for example contacts, call logs, SMS/MMS, browser history and SD card content, but not emails or apps.

From Android 2.2 onwards, a full factory reset is possible so you have full wipe capabilities. However, please be aware that this will also delete avast! Anti-Theft, unless it was installed as a rooted application.

The thorough wipe will take up to ten minutes, and will physically and irrecoverably delete the actual contents of your SD card. It is your choice whether to select the maximum level of security by using the thorough wipe option.

Protect your data with avast! Anti-Theft

To do a full wipe, avast! Anti-Theft needs to be configured in the advanced settings as a device administrator, otherwise applications, emails etc. will not be deleted. Download and install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft from the Google Play store.

Don’t forget to backup your data with avast! Mobile Backup. It saves your contacts, call logs, SMS history, photos, and other irreplaceable data to your AVAST Account (and, optionally, Google Drive) to ensure that your priceless data is never lost. Download avast! Mobile Backup for free from Google Play.

All SMS commands, along with a short description how everything works is explained in our manual (PDF). It’s short and easy to understand.

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.

May 19th, 2014

How to set up your smartphone for remote control

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I just installed avast! Anti-Theft on my new Samsung Galaxy S5. If it gets lost or stolen, I know I can use remote control somehow. What do I do to set that up?

Congratulations on your cool new phone! It would be awful to lose that! Now that you have the free avast! Anti-Theft installed, you need to set it up so you can use the remote control features to control your phone via the avast! Portal or by SMS commands using a friend’s phone.

Communicate via your online account

First, make sure you set up an account on our online portal at my.avast.com to communicate with the anti-theft installation. Once you set it up, you get an overview of all your devices protected by avast! security products and you can pair the devices with the online account.

To pair your smartphone to the account open avast! Mobile Security, open the Settings section and tap on the avast! Account. The wizard will lead you through the registration or pairing process.

Once that’s done, you can remotely control your mobile devices on which avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft is installed.

Control your smartphone with avast! Anti-TheftCommunicate via a friend’s phone

Another way to communicate with your phone is by SMS commands using a friend’s phone. To do that you need to specify one or two phone numbers of friends or family members who will receive the Anti-Theft notifications from your phone.

To add a friend’s phone number, open avast! Anti-Theft and click on Friends. You can add one or two phone numbers here. Before you leave the screen, you have one more decision to make: Go to the bottom and check the box Only allow friend commands to allow SMS commands only from the specified friend’s numbers, or, if left unchecked, SMS commands will be accepted from any number. If you change your mind later, you can remove that restriction, by de-selecting the option.

SMS commands to remotely control your phone

Using the SMS commands, you can silently retrieve details of calls made and received, copies of incoming or outgoing SMS messages, you can remotely lock your phone, sound a siren or even remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data if you do not expect to recover it. You can also receive continuous GPS updates so that you can track your phone’s location.

Get avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft for free

Install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-theft from the Google Play store.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news and product information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our avast! Business Solutions.

May 13th, 2014

Who protects your smartphone from cybercrooks?

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop

Android malware analyst Filip Chytrý will be speaking at the CARO Workshop 2014

The avast! Virus Lab professionals work together to stop malware from attacking your Android mobile phone.

 

Filip Chytrý, an analyst in the avast! Virus Lab will Declare war against Android Malware, together with his colleague, Peter Kalnai, at the 8th International CARO Workshop held in Melbourne, Florida this week. CARO (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) is a technical gathering of malware experts from around the world who share case studies of mobile attacks, do real life attack demonstrations, and present plans for the identification and investigation of coordinated mobile threats.

Along with his specialized knowledge in Android malware, Filip is a really fun guy. I asked him a few questions, so that you could meet one of the AVAST professionals directly responsible for keeping tens of millions of Android smartphone users safe from threats.

DEBORAH Thanks for taking time during your preparations for CARO to meet our users via the AVAST blog. Your job analyzing Android-targeted malware didn’t even exist when you were a little boy. What early experiences with technology influenced your career path?

SAAB-(2)

Filip has worn cool shoes all his life

FILIP Define early. :) I’ve been addicted to PCs since childhood. I had my very first PC when I was 8 years old; some old piece of junk which was at that time probably older than I, but I still have remarkable memories of that time. So from that time on, I was influenced by technology. Even in my leisure activities, I concentrated on PCs. I went on to graduate from the School of Applications Cybernetics in Hradec Králové in Czech Republic.

DEBORAH  Protecting people’s desktop computers is how AVAST started, and now we’ve added free mobile security to our product offerings. How do we teach people to keep their smartphones and tablets safe just like their computers?
FILIP
Most people still do not realize that their smartphones actually have more computing power and abilities than the computer they had in their homes five-ten years ago. The capabilities of their devices are incredible. Data in portable devices may say more about you than data from your PC. You have location data there, pictures, social media information and so on. Read more…

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