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December 11th, 2013

Browser Ransomware tricks revealed

It’s not surprising that scared people are the most vulnerable to attacker’s traps, and there is no reason to think it will work differently with computer users. Using this psychology, cybercrooks show an unaware victim an alert page claiming to have found that banned pornography was viewed or stored on their computer. The message goes on to say their computer is blocked, all their data is encrypted, and they will be sent to court in 48 hours unless they pay a fine. This is basically how ‘Ransomware’ works – scare tactics with a convenient way to buy yourself out of the predicament at the end.

Ransomware page

When we look closer at the scam, we find that the Ransomware is focused only on the victim’s browser and fortunately, not as they claim, on the data stored inside the victim’s computer. Here are several points that work together to scare the victim:

  • The headline of the webpage: “FBI. ATTENTION! Your browser has been blocked…”. This is the part of the attack that tries to scare visitors as much as possible.
  • The name of the page, “gov.cybercrimescenter.com”, tries to convince visitors they are on a legitimate website which belongs to the government.
  • A countdown timer starts on 48 hours and counts down the time before “legal steps” starts.

These points try to rush panicked victims into paying the requested money as soon as possible without time to think. But it’s better to take a deep breath before reacting. You know you didn’t watch the movies mentioned on the page, and of course, you didn’t store illegal files. Do you really think that upon identifying a child pornographer, that the government will tell them to pay a small amount of money as a fine and let them go?

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August 30th, 2012

How do I disable Java in my browser?

Question of the day: I read your blog about the Java exploit. I want to remove it from my computer. How do I do that?

Thanks for reading the avast! blog.  As Jiri Sejtko described in our blog today, serious security flaws in Java version 7 allow hackers to take control of PCs and Macs. The Avast Virus Lab is releasing generic detections and using behavioral and dynamical detection mechanisms to protect our users, however they also recommend that you disable Java in your browsers. The Virus Lab explains the exploit in details on our blog, and here are instructions on how to unplug Java from different browsers.

For Windows: go to Start > Control Panel, click the Uninstall a program link. Find Java on the list of programs. If you have version 7, uninstall it.

For Mozilla Firefox: From the main menu select Tools > Add-ons. In the Add-on management window, choose Plugins. Find any plugins on the list that say Java and click the Disable button. Restart Firefox.

For Google Chrome: Type “chrome://plugins/” (minus the quotes) into the browser address bar. Find any plugins on the list that say Java and click the Disable button.

For Internet Explorer: I have been told that disabling Java in IE is complicated. The U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (USCERT) has some steps here. This may be a good time to switch to a different browser.

For Safari: Click Preferences > Security tab > uncheck the Enable Java option.

For Opera: Type “opera:plugins” (minus the quotes) into the browser’s address bar. Find any plugins on the list that say Java and click the Disable button.

For OS X 10.7 and 10.8:  go to Macintosh HD/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/ and remove the 1.7.0.jdk file. Older versions of OS X run Java 6.

Also, make sure that you have up-to-date avast! antivirus protection because avast! detects the latest Java zero day exploit in real time as Java:Dong-A [Expl] . We would appreciate your recommendation as well. We make it easy to share with your Facebook friends via our Recommend avast! app. Thank you!

edit: added Opera instructions

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
November 3rd, 2011

IE’s long good-bye


It was bound to happen. Some years back, that upstart Firefox tempted us with tabs, add-ons and fun themes. And it seems like only yesterday that Chrome’s speed and minimalist design seduced us even further. Yes, it was bound to happen.

For the first time in ten years, tech blogs are reporting that Microsoft’s web browser, the ubiquitous Internet Explorer, has fallen below 50 percent of global browser usage (you have to factor in mobile browser usage to make the numbers add up). Once the undisputed leader in market share, residing on an astounding 95 percent of the world’s desktops, browser watchers say that IE is in steady decline.

Whether the numbers work or not, and whether IE’s decline can be attributed more to the rise of mobile browsers, than a migration of users to different browsers, we thought it would be fun to look at which browsers avast! users prefer. Here is a breakdown of browser usage among avast! users this year. Looks like our users are ahead of the trend!

Security reminder: An interesting and dangerous fact is that there is still major usage of old versions of Internet Explorer. IE 6 and 7, which are not supported on any version of Windows, are still used by over 25 percent of Internet Explorer users, which equals a bit over 13 percent of all desktop users. Whether you use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome (or any of the others), to keep your computer secure, please make sure you have the most recent browser version and install any patches that are available.

August 8th, 2011

Four browser nets and one phish

Not all browser nets can catch the same phish. One Friday evening, just before I wanted to go home, I received an interesting email.

It contained sentences like “ We recently reviewed your account, and suspect that your PayPal account
may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party” and words like “protected“, “security” and “unauthorized“.  Of course, at the end of the email, there were directions to click on a “Paypal” link to update information like login name and password.

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