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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’
August 16th, 2014

Facebook Messenger app stirs privacy pot

Lately, you may have noticed that when you try to send messages through Facebook’s mobile app on your phone and tablet, you are prompted to download the standalone Facebook Messenger app. It’s a cool app which allows you to message your Facebook friends, send picture and video messages, and call any of your Facebook friends for free using your Wi-Fi connection. It has also stirred up some controversy about all the permissions it requires.

avast! Mobile Security protects your Android device

Messenger needs permission to take pictures and videos using your camera, record audio, directly call phone numbers, receive/send/read/edit your text messages, access the internet, look into your address book, and keep track of your precise location. When we take a look at the permissions listed on the Google Play store, there are other creepy, but not really threatening, things like preventing your phone from sleeping and controlling the vibration.

The privacy controversy that is stirring is around the question of what Facebook may do with all that data. For example, do they really need to see your address book? Don’t they already know who your friends are on Facebook?

The thing is – nothing has changed about Facebook Messenger permissions. The previous version required the same access as the standalone app. You can read Facebook’s explanation about the permissions here.

We wrote about the changes in the way Google Play manages permissions earlier this summer, pointing out that most people blindly accept whatever app developers want without question. Each of us needs to decide how much we are willing to give in order to get. But please be aware, dear avast! users, that your smartphone combined with social media is a mecca for hackers. Our lives in data are stored on our mobile devices and without strong security and some common sense, cybercrooks can harvest it and use it as they please.

Make sure you protect your devices with the proper security. avast! Mobile Security is for Android phones and tablets, and it’s free. The Application Shield keeps you safe from malicious apps by scanning them on two levels – on installation and on execution. With App manager you can see your running apps, check their permissions, and if they display ads. Download avast! Mobile Security & 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, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ andInstagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

 

 

 

 

August 9th, 2014

Our pressing need for ‘now’ does not translate to a want for security breaches

instant-gratificationRecode is running a series leading from its “I want it now” piece about people who have grown accustomed to having their desires met on a whim through the aid of savvy entrepreneurs and tech innovators eager to cash in.

We can all relate to “I want it now”.

I feel myself growing impatient in coffee shops when someone has found a spot to connect their laptops or mobile devices to power points – and I have not. As we often spend hours in the one coffee shop sipping from the same latte we ordered more than an hour ago, it’s inevitable from time to time that we’ll want to check our personal affairs.

What’s happening on facebook? I should message my friend. Let’s browse my favorite news and music sites – that concert looks good, I think I’ll buy a ticket. What, my credit card has been rejected? Best do some online banking.

This type of activity in public spaces can be open playing field for the ill-intentioned: The hacker or the “steal your data” money or identity thief.

We would all agree the “I want it now” mentality does not include: ‘I want’ cyber snoops and criminals ‘now’.

We’ve heard the warnings about our mobile devices – the smartphone is a walking computer in your back pocket, and yet one that can easily be lost or stolen. The plethora of text messages, contact lists, photos, online search history – all this information can be found and used against us if it falls into the wrong hands – even when wiped (as our recent blogpost shows).

Hackers are also targeting our mobile devices with malicious malware. Read more…

August 1st, 2014

Security and privacy settings across your Google accounts

Google is the most popular Internet search provider worldwide. The name itself has even become a verb: We don’t look online anymore, we Google everything. Moreover, we use plenty of Google products not even realizing how connected they are. Gmail, YouTube, Translator, Google Drive, Photos (the former Picassa), Play, as well as Google+. The integration of Google products has became stronger.  Now we access our email, YouTube videos, images, documents, and social networks such as Google+ and YouTube using one log in and credentials. Therefore it is extremely important to ensure that all of accounts are set up correctly. Following our previous articles on Security on Social Media, on Facebook privacy, Graph search or your reputation online,  let’s take a closer look at Google products with a special focus on privacy of your social account.

Security and privacy for your Google accounts

Google+ is a very specific social network, very often underestimated by the users. Most Google+ owners don’t even realize that they have an account on the social channel! You might not use it actively, but  it is important to have your data and profile under control.  So let’s start with the basics.

In the top right corner you can start editing your profile settings.

Privacy settings G+

Go to the privacy section. One of the most important features here is a 2-Step Verification.
Read more…

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…