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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’
June 3rd, 2014

New avast! Account with Facebook Security is here. Join Beta testing

Security and privacy on Social Media is a big topic at AVAST. While our antivirus products protect your various devices from malware infection spread on social channels, your privacy is still exposed to the public.

Not anymore!

It’s been a while, since we acquired Secure. me and it’s a superb product. Our team worked hard to integrate the privacy solution into our security portfolio. Now we are proud to introduce the result: Beta version of the avast! Facebook Security.

We are very excited to hear your feedback on the product. Experienced users are most welcome to participate in the Beta Testing. We await your feedback on the product features, user interface, bug reporting, your general experience, as well as your suggestions for the final name of the product. Moreover avast! Facebook Security is a part of the new avast! Account look and  your feedback on it is more than appreciated.

To make your life easier, we will guide you through all the steps, starting from:

How to participate in beta testing?

1. Log in our new version of the AVAST account.

Facebook Security

Read more…

May 26th, 2014

Your child on Facebook: learn about the privacy settings

Security matters to everyone, however security of our children is our top priority. We make sure that they are safe at school, home, and on the streets. Equally we need to provide them with a safe experience in the cyberworld. Recently, we published a blog about general online security of the children, which suggested that you take time and help your child with privacy settings on Facebook. Don’t worry, if you have no clue where to start, we will guide you through the labyrinth of sophisticated security and privacy settings settings. Follow our tips to secure yourself and your child on the most popular social network.

Privacy settings

Like other Internet giants, Facebook has been especially vulnerable to criticisms about privacy. In particular, critics have complained that even if you deactivate your account, the information can still remain on the network and be subject to web searches.~ comments Mashable in the article on recent Facebook privacy update

Following users’ complaints regarding privacy issues, Facebook decided to change the default settings of your status updates to be the visible for Friends only instead of Public. This however applies to Facebook newbies only! So if you and your children are already users, you still have a job to do! :)
Security shortcut

Facebook regularly updates its settings and as a result your profile settings can be restored to the default. In terms of  privacy it means: Everything is PUBLIC. Therefore it’s extremely important to review your profile regularly . You will not be able to influence everything, however there are an advanced number of settings that can be fully controlled by you. The three basic areas that you should focus on are:

  1. 1. Who can see your posts and images?
  2. 2. Who can contact you?
  3. 3. How you can help your child block harassing Facebook friends.

You will find this setting in the right top corner on the blue bar, in the Privacy Shortcuts section. Click on the See More Settings to open the window below and follow our suggestions.

Advacne privacz settings Read more…

May 21st, 2014

Does your fitness app track more than your daily workouts?

avast! MobileSecurity checks privacy permissions of appsFor the last few years, I have used an app on my Android smartphone to log my training runs. It tracks the distance I ran, the route I took, my running pace, and calories burned. If I want to, I can link it with Facebook or other social networks and share my workouts, or I can pay to have my stats broadcast live, so for example, during a race, my family can follow my progress.

Using an app like this is motivating and helps me to organize my training better, but until recently I had never considered the privacy and security issues surrounding fitness tracking devices and apps.

“Privacy advocates warn that consumers aren’t always aware of how sensitive the data the apps collect can be or what privacy protections exist,” reported The Washington Post yesterday.

My smartphone is protected by avast! Mobile Security, so I decided to take a closer look at my apps with the Privacy Advisor feature. Privacy Advisor scans the apps in my device and tells me what kinds of information they collect. Application Management tells me what permissions individual apps require. My fitness app requires me to give these permissions:

  • Track GPS location
  • Read contact data
  • Access accounts

Not too bad; at least when I compare it to the fitness app that came with the phone.

My fitness app respects my privacy, but many health and fitness apps sell personal information like usernames, names and email addresses, and information like medical symptom searches, zip codes, geo-location, gender identifiers, and dietary and workout habits. A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study revealed that ad companies and data miners are among the third parties that buy this data.

Already some employers are rewarding their workers with cheaper insurance plans for joining fitness programs. But there is worry that the data collected could be pieced together to create profiles that would backfire. It’s fine when you’re healthy for your fitness, health and medical data to determine things like insurance rates or drug pricing, but what if your health declines?

The FTC “is concerned consumers could be penalized based on health data; for instance, a financial institution might adjust credit ratings based on the fact someone has a disease.”

“Information about consumers most intimate health conditions is going to be sold to the highest bidder,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Washington Post. “Employers might get access to it, insurers might get access to it, or mortgage lenders — which could lead to a vast array of negative discriminatory practices.”

Know what your apps want

Check what the apps that you have allowed on your smartphone require with avast! Mobile Security.  Install it free on Android devices 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 5th, 2014

The 10 Commandments of Mobile Privacy

From governments to thieves to your wife – it seems that everyone has access to your private data.

avast! Mobile Security anti-theft helps track your lost phone

If you have a smartphone or tablet, people around you can discover your most deeply held secrets. You put all your private data and personal information there and… it’s at risk. The possibility of losing your phone or getting robbed is a major concern.

Is there anything that we can do to protect our private data? Some skeptics say no. I’m an optimist; I think there is always a way. Working for a security company makes us think that there is always a way to protect ourselves, to avoid danger, and to care about other users.

Lock your apps for privacy with avast! Mobile SecurityI’ve being collecting info for what I call the 10 Commandments for mobile privacy. Here are simple steps to help protect your privacy:

  1. 1. Use a PIN, password or pattern in your device. I’m lucky to have a phone where the numbers change their position on the screen and make the lockscreen even more secure. There are some apps that make your password “random” (obeying rules you’ve previously set).
  2. 2. Lock your most private apps. Lock your log in data but also your own messages, emails, personal notes, contacts, everything is in your pocket. offers the feature to secure even more sensitive parts of your device with the avast! Mobile Security App Locker that automatically asks for a PIN when you start the app.
  3. 3. Do not save banking or credit card credentials in your phone or, at least, not in the mobile browsers. Some banks, at least here in Brazil, have their own mobile app that never saves the passwords or PINs. Now, for Android, there are free password managers that adds a new security layer while browsing.
  4. 4. Do not be a happy clicker. People who expose themselves to scams or spam links, who download each single app they see from any kind of source put themselves at risk. OK, you’ll say this is not you. But, do you think twice on clicking in social media links or shares?
  5. 5. Do not take, send, save or share nude photos. No, this is not a moral commandment. It’s a privacy one. Read more…
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April 28th, 2014

Digital snoop screams at baby through baby monitor

As more gadgets get WiFi-connected, there could be serious implications for personal and home security.

 

Secure your privacy by using avast! SecureLine VPN

Baby monitor hijacked

A new case of a baby monitor being hijacked was reported last week in a Cincinnati, Ohio home. Fox19 news reported that the Schreck family was fast asleep when an unfamiliar voice woke up Mrs. Schreck. She grabbed her cell phone to check on the wireless IP camera used to monitor her 10-month-old daughter Emma’s room. The camera was moving, seemingly by itself. A man’s voice started screaming, ‘Wake up baby. Wake up baby.’

This incident is similar to one that occurred in August 2013 when a disturbed stranger screamed obscenities at a sleeping toddler through the baby monitor. The bugs in the Foscam camera that was used have since been discovered and updates are on the company website. Make sure you update your camera’s firmware as soon as possible.

The Internet of Things

“Smart” gadgets like IP camera video feeds are used to monitor children, property, and pets. If the camera isn’t secure, a hacker or creepy Peeping Tom can use them to spy on you and your family, watch recorded images, and even find out when the coast is clear so they can break in. Other smart gadgets like home appliances, TVs, pacemakers, cars, etc. – are vulnerable to cyber attacks. This may be a low-risk threat now, but as more gadgets get WiFi-connected, there could be serious implications for personal and home security.

Tips to secure your home cameras against digital snooping

  • Secure your home wireless router. Look for a camera that supports current wireless security protocols, like WPA2.
  • Use a unique password. Don’t be tempted to turn off the password requirement on your camera. If you’re not sure what a strong password looks like, read our blog about creating strong passwords.
  • Use a secure WiFi connection. Your camera’s mobile app may not be encrypted, so using it on an unsecured WiFi network could give troublemakers an open door to your video feed or your password. Change the settings on your mobile device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to a public WiFi hotspot. Protect your privacy by using avast! SecureLine VPN on your Android phone or iPhone. If you don’t know what a VPN is, read our blog post explaining what a VPN can do for you.

The FTC has more tips for securing your IP camera on their site.

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.

February 1st, 2014

Oversharers: The NSA Loves Your Openness and the Data You Share via Apps

“It has become second nature to connect various apps like Instagram, SocialCam, Angry Birds, CityVille, and Spotify to your Facebook ID. You just click ‘agree’ without even really knowing what you are agreeing to. What you don’t realize is that social apps linked to your Facebook profile can pretty much track your and your friends’ whole life.”

postThis quote, from Christian Sigl (co-founder of secure.me, which is now part of AVAST), originally appeared in Mashable in September, 2012.

Back then, we wanted to give users a heads-up and create awareness to think twice before sharing personal data with apps – regardless if via smartphone or the Web. Part of the message was that you never know what can happen with your data and in whose hands it could end up in.

Today, we know where the data went: The NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, have accessed data from Angry Birds and other smartphone and tablet apps, including sensitive information like age, location, education level and sexual orientation. The data accessed was collected directly from phones including geolocation, handset model, handset ID, software version and more – but personal information like sexual orientation, age and education level probably came from social media connect options.

Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, has reacted and denied that they provide data to the NSA. Instead, they point out that they will rethink relationships with the ad networks they work with. “The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,” Rovio announced.

Regardless of how this data landed on NSA desks, giving away your customer’s personally identifiable information to a third-party organization is never a good move.

Users couldn’t really have done anything to avoid their data from ending up with the NSA, the only preventative action that could have been taken would have been limiting the amount of personal data that could be collected from social networks. Social network data isn’t meta data, this is information people share voluntarily. So of course, we know today that the NSA can access very sensitive and personal information if they want to – they will find a way if you’re of interest to them. Most of us aren’t though and one thing you can do to limit the amount of data that’s collected is to avoid online oversharing with apps and social networks.

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.

January 28th, 2014

Data Privacy Day at AVAST

Tuesday, January 28 is Data Privacy Day, an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint. Here at AVAST, we will take the whole week to talk about privacy, and how we can make the protection of privacy and data a greater priority in our lives.

POST

Make sure you take the My Privacy IQ quiz to test your knowledge (and maybe win a free license and avast! teddy.)

What is the difference between privacy and security?

While privacy and security overlap in certain ways, they are distinct concepts. Security is defined as “freedom from danger or risk” and “precautions to guard against crime, attack, etc.” You use antivirus software to help protect against a security breach or having your personal data stolen by cybercrooks.

Privacy is “the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life.” This summer, we saw how closely connected these two concepts are when Edward Snowden revealed, through a security breach, how big data companies were complicit with the NSA snooping into normal people’s private lives.

Read more…

January 27th, 2014

What is your Privacy IQ? Take our quiz and find out!

AVAST Software is proud to be a champion of Data Privacy Day, celebrated every year on January 28th. We encourage you to make protecting privacy and data a greater priority. Read on to find out if you are a Privacy Pro!

Find out if you are a Privacy Pro or if you need to learn more to protect your personal information online by taking the My Privacy IQ Quiz. Take the quiz here, by submitting your answers, as a comment to this blog post. The first 5 participants who will answer all questions correctly win avast! SecureLine VPN for Android or iOS or an avast! teddy bear. Alternatively you can enter a quiz at our Facebook here. Quiz ends on Monday, February 3rd 

blog

 

My Privacy IQ quiz

 

1) Do privacy policies guarantee that your information will be kept private?

A. Yes

B. No

Read more…

January 17th, 2014

Has the NSA installed spyware on your new computer before you opened the box?

nsaAn article in German magazine Der Spiegel stated that the NSA is capable of installing backdoors on devices by Juniper Networks (firewall manufacturer), Cisco and Huawei (giant network device manufacturers), and also, Dell. According to the article, a special hacking team intercepted some new computer deliveries to secretly install spyware in these machines. Der Spiegel did not reveal how they got access to this information, although it’s public that they have access to secret information leaked by the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

The magazine has access to secret documents describing a method of direct attack on an end-user device called “interdiction.” If a person was being investigated and bought a new computer, the Tailored Access Operations division (TAO) of the NSA could have access to it. They collect online information using a tool called XKeyscore, like the British journal The Guardian revealed last July. They also are able to redirect the internet traffic to their own servers. Der Spiegel said that this redirection occured with high success (50%) when people were browsing the professional network LinkedIn.

But I’m not interesting enough…

Ok. You’ll say that you’re not included in the “interesting” people to be investigated by the NSA. What you need to know, quickly, is that there are tons of spyware and behavior monitoring tools being distributed all over the world. Our team detected more than 6 million of them disguised as toolbars for browsers. These nasties monitor everything from your browser habits to your personal information.

Similar to NSA, some “security companies” do this dirty job of monitoring. Did you read about avast! BrowserCleaner yet? You can get rid of spyware toolbars using this tool inside avast! Antivirus products, or you can download the standalone version here. Learn more about it in this blog entry. And, of course, do not forget to alert your friends and family.

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.

Categories: General Tags: , , , ,
January 7th, 2014

AVAST response to open letter from Bits of Freedom

Recently an open letter from Bits of Freedom, a group comprised of 24 digital rights organizations and academics, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the US and Netzpolitik.org in Germany, was sent to security software vendors. AVAST did not receive the letter “officially,” although our company was listed among the vendors.

The purpose of the open letter was to request a clarification of our policy on the use of software for the purpose of government-sanctioned surveillance of its citizens. In other words, do we look the other way when governments or law enforcement agencies install malware on private citizens’ personal computers to collect data?

It has become very clear that governments will do anything to gain access to as much information as possible,” says Bits of Freedom’s Ton Siedsma. “Requests like these, coming from law enforcement agencies or secret services, lower the general level of protection of all users of antivirus software. The software isn’t just used by suspects, but by all of us. This is something to be very concerned about, so we have asked the antivirus software vendors for transparency on this matter.

AVAST’s Chief Technology Officer, Ondřej Vlček, responded to their questions:

1. Have you ever detected the use of software by any government (or state actor) for the purpose of surveillance?
Yes, we have had incidences where it became apparent that software our programs detected was in fact surveillance software. Although it’s not always 100% clear who is behind this, in some cases we had reasons to believe that it was distributed by government institutions.

2. Have you ever been approached with a request by a government, requesting that the presence of specific software is not detected, or if detected, not notified to the user of your software? And if so, could you provide information on the legal basis of this request, the specific kind of software you were supposed to allow and the period of time which you were supposed to allow this use?
No. We have never been approached by any government agency, but we also don’t think that this realistically would ever happen. It would be very risky for a government agency to ask antivirus companies to ignore and not detect their malware. They can’t expect that security companies would keep this information to themselves; this would therefore risk the news about their malware getting leaked to the media faster than they can think.

3. Have you ever granted such a request? If so, could you provide the same information as in the point mentioned above and the considerations which led to the decision to comply with the request from the government?
No, we have never granted such a request.

4. Could you clarify how you would respond to such a request in the future?
The security and privacy of our users has been the core of our business for 25 years. Whenever we detect malware, regardless of its origin or type, we always protect our users. This includes malware from governments and official institutions – if we detect the malware, no matter the origin of the creator, we create a solution to protect our users.

Categories: General Tags: , ,
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