Protecting over 230 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus


March 27th, 2015

Not your father’s antivirus protection

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Avast received the AV-Test certification for home use products.

Do I really need security on my computer anymore?

Over the years, web standards have improved and the security of operating systems and browsers have become better. Because of these advances, some people question whether they need security protection at all. But you need to remember that in parallel to positive advances in protection, cybercrooks have improved their skills and become more stealthy and targeted.

Hackers are no longer mischievous kids breaking into government agencies because they can. “These days, cybercrooks have to make business driven-decisions like the rest of us because their resources are limited,” said Ondrek Vlcek, COO of Avast.

Current malware is often disguised as legitimate applications, malicious Android apps sneak by protocols of the huge download sites, and home and business networks are being attacked via weakly protected routers.

“Threats are no longer just targeting devices, but accounts and routers. A recent example is the iCloud hack where cybercrooks stole personal photos of more than 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton,” said Vlcek. “This attack happened via their account and can as well be the result of a router hack. No matter which device you use, all Internet traffic flows through your router so you have to make sure it is secure. You don’t have to be Jennifer Lawrence to be attacked.

Not your father’s antivirus protection

Antivirus protection has come a long way since it scanned individual files. Avast has taken modern virus protection to a high art with real-time updates and heuristic scans that detect new threats it’s never even seen before.

Avast performs so well in protecting against “real-world” threats such as Trojans, worms and viruses as well as web and email threats, that it just received the AV-TEST certification for our home user products.

Avast scored perfectly in the detection of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, and had very little incidence of disruptions caused by false positives. Our consumer products have basically no measurable impact on the performance of the computer while doing things that the average user does on a daily basis: Visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs and copying data.


March 24th, 2015

5 things you can do to boost your Wi-Fi network

laptop and routers

Where you place your router can make a big difference in signal strength.

Where you physically place your router makes a difference – not only to the signal, but to your security.

Think of your router like you would a cordless phone’s base. If you wander too far away from the base station, your call may drop or have static interference. If your wireless devices, like your laptop, are out of your router’s range, then your connection speed can slow down to an annoying crawl or your connection may drop.

Generally, a Wi-Fi router should work well for about 100 ft (30m) in every direction. If your walls are thin or your router is placed in the wrong location, you could be helping a thief steal your bandwidth.

Here are 5 things you can do to optimize your reception and reduce the chance of your neighbor piggy backing on your signal:

  1. 1. Place your router in a central location. For the optimal coverage, place the router in the middle of the desired coverage area. Think about all the devices you are using along with their location, and place the router at a mid-point and as high as possible so the signal gets dispersed throughout the area.
  2. 2. Avoid walls, ceilings or shelves. If the signal has to go around corners, or through walls, ceilings or shelves, then it will have a hard time getting to your device. Insulated walls, or ones made of brick or concrete can impede the signal. Even fish tanks (it’s the water that’s the problem) and mirrors can have an effect.
  3. 3. Place appliances far away from the router. Appliances operate on the same frequency as routers, so avoid placing the router close to cordless phones, microwaves, or TVs.
  4. 4. Name your Wi-Fi something alarming. Follow the trend to rename your Wi-Fi network to something that will potentially scare would-be thieves from mooching off your Wi-Fi connection. The name “FBI Surveillance Van” was popular a few years ago, or use my favorite c:\virus.exe.
  5. Better yet – set up a password for your network with WPA2 encryption. Read more about securing your router from 12 ways to boost your router’s security.
  6. 5. Put up Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper. Decorate your room and block your Wi-Fi signal at the same time. MetaPaper is wallpaper that helps businesses and home users improve the security of their data and protect their Wi-Fi networks from intruders. Re-setting your password is definitely cheaper, but this is a clever innovation especially for business owners concerned about their data security.

BONUS TIP:

Avast Home Network Security scans a user’s home network and routers for potential security issues that could allow a hacker attack. The scan looks for misconfigured Wi-Fi networks, exposes weak or default Wi-Fi passwords, vulnerable routers, compromised Internet connections, and enabled, but not protected, IPv6. It also lists all devices on the network so you can make sure only your known devices are connected.

To run a scan on your home network, open the Avast user interface and click on Scan>Scan for network threats. If Avast finds a vulnerability it will guide you on how to fix it.


March 23rd, 2015

Stay safe during March Madness using Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine VPN lets you watch March Madness while traveling.

Avast SecureLine VPN gives you access to geo-restricted programming and protects you from unsecured Wi-Fi.

Stay safe on public Wi-Fi while watching the game from anywhere in the world with Avast SecureLine VPN.

March Madness is in full swing — this year’s NCAA Tournament is now in its second week and we’re already down to the Sweet 16. When you think about March Madness, you probably think about your bracket, your favorite college basketball teams, and the bets you’ll place on those who you think will win the tournament.  Although it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of March Madness, it’s the betting process that you should really be paying attention to: this popular activity serves as the perfect opportunity for hackers to access your personal information.

Since most people watch the NCAA games in bars or cafes with friends, they make the majority of their bets using their mobile devices while connected to public and often unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they‘re not safe. Cybercrooks can easily access and steal personal data when you‘re connected to these unprotected networks. Even if you’re transmitting data from one HTTPS site to another, it’s the connection in-between the two sites that really puts your data at risk. Additionally, developments such as real-time betting make the odds for getting hacked even greater.

During March Madness, a time of year when so many financial transactions are being made, cybercrooks are especially likely to steal your banking info (e.g. your credit card and/or account numbers) and personal info (e.g. your social security number, social media accounts, etc.). Avast SecureLine VPN for Android and updated for iOS devices keeps these cybercrooks at bay and securely allows you to use your PCs, smartphones, and tablets on unsecure Wi-Fi networks while participating in March Madness at your favorite bar or cafe.

“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, COO at AVAST. “We created Avast SecureLine VPN to allow users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”

Watch content from all over the world

You don’t have to miss a single game or your favorite program while you are traveling. SecureLine VPN makes it look like you’re connected from a different location, allowing you to view ‘local’ content anywhere because your shown geo-IP address will be different from your real one.

Play geo-restricted content from all over the world.

Play content from all over the world while connected via SecureLine VPN.

 

Keep your data and identity safe using Avast SecureLine

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Avast SecureLine VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything –  inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since Avast SecureLine masks your IP address.

For those of you interested in technical specs, here are the highlights:

  • Avast Secureline VPN uses OpenVPN protocol.
  • The encryption used is 256bit AES.
  • Communication on all ports is encrypted.

How to get Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Android on Google Play and for iOS in the Apple App Store.

 


March 19th, 2015

How to use the Avast Virus Chest

The Avast Virus Chest is a safe place to store potentially harmful files. These files are completely isolated from the rest of the operating system, meaning that they are not accessible for any outside process or software application. Files cannot be run while stored in the Virus Chest.

How to open the Avast Virus Chest

To open the Virus Chest, right click on Avast’s little orange ball icon in the system tray in the bottom right hand corner of your computer. Select Open Avast user interface from the menu. Another way to open the user interface is to double click the desktop icon.

From the main menu, select Scan, then Scan for viruses, and then click the Quarantine (Virus Chest) button at the bottom of the screen to open the Virus Chest window.

If Avast 2015 detects an infected or suspicious file, it will try to repair it at first. Unfortunately, some files cannot be repaired so Avast will try to move the file to the Virus Chest. If the infected file refuses to move to the Virus Chest, it will be automatically deleted from your computer.

How to set up quick access to the Virus Chest

For quick access to the Virus Chest, you can assign it to one of the four shortcut squares in the Avast user interface. To change which function you see, click on the drop-down menu icon in the top right hand corner of the square. There you will find a choice to place the Virus Chest right on the Overview of your Avast product.

Once you have the shortcut on the user interface, then simply click it to open the Virus Chest.

avast-user-interface

Set the shortcuts that you want in the Avast user interface.

You can perform different actions while in the Virus Chest

You can perform different actions on the file inside the Virus Chest by right clicking. For example, you can

  • Restore a file
  • Exclude it from scanning
  • Report it to the virus lab
  • Delete the file

Once you have made the decision on which action to take, you will be asked to confirm your choice. When you have finished, close the Virus Chest to exit.

NOTE: Exercise extreme caution when restoring a file from the Virus Chest as it may still be infected. This is a high security risk action that requires advanced skills and experience handling infected files to avoid further potential infection of your computer.

How to manually move a file to the Virus Chest

If you need to move a file manually into the Virus Chest, right click anywhere on the contents table on the Virus Chest screen and select Add from the menu. A navigation dialog will open so all you need to do is locate the desired file that you want to move. Then click the Open button. The desired file will then appear in the contents table on the Virus Chest screen.

How to restore files from the Avast Virus Chest

When you open the Virus Chest, you will see a list of files contained within it. Right click on the file that you want to restore and the drop-down menu will appear. Select the Extract option, then select the location to save the file and click OK to close your window.

Categories: General, How to Tags:

March 18th, 2015

Don’t click on the porn video your Facebook friend shared

Fake Flash Player updates fool Facebook users.

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Facebook users get malware from clicking on fake Flash Player updates.

Facebook users have fallen victim to a recycled scam, and we want to make sure that all of our readers are fore-warned. Cybercrooks use social engineering tactics to fool people into clicking, and when the bait comes from a trusted friend on Facebook, it works very well.

Here’s how the scam works – your friend sends you an interesting video clip; in the latest iteration you are tagged and lots of other friends are also tagged – this makes it seem more trustworthy. The video stops a few seconds in and when you click on it, a message that your Flash Player needs to be updated for it to continue comes up. Since you have probably seen messages from Adobe to update your Flash Player, this does not raise any red flags. Being conscientious about updating your software, as well as curious about what happens next in the video, you click the link. That’s when the fun really begins.

The fake Flash Player is actually the downloader of a Trojan that infects your account. Security researcher Mohammad Faghani, told The Guardian, …” once it infects someone’s account, it re-shares the clip while tagging up to 20 of their friends – a tactic that helps it spread faster than previous Facebook-targeted malware that relied on one-to-one messaging on Facebook.”

How to protect yourself from Facebook video scams

Don’t fall for it. Videos that are supposedly sensational or shocking are also suspect. Be very cautious when clicking.

Does your friend really watch this stuff? If it seems out of character for your friend to share something like that with you, beware. Their account may have been infected by malware, and it’s possible they don’t even know this is being shared. Do them a favor and tell them about it.

Be careful of shortened links. The BBB says that scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t recognize the link destination, don’t click.

Use up-to-date antivirus software like Avast Free Antivirus with full real-time protection.

Report suspicious activity to Facebook. If your account was compromised, make sure to change your password.


March 17th, 2015

Ransomware holds eSports players hostage

Dreaded ransomware, the malware that locks your files and demands payment for the key to unlock them, is now targeting gamers.

New ransomware targets gamers.

 

In the first report of gamers being targeted by ransomware, more than 2o different games, including World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Call of Duty and Star Craft 2, various EA Sports and Valve games, and Steam gaming software are are on the list.  This variant of ransomware looks similar to CryptoLocker according to a report from a researcher at Bromium Labs.

What is CryptoLocker?

CryptoLocker is “ransomware” malware that encrypts files on a victim’s Windows-based PC. This includes pictures, movie and music files, documents, and certain files, like the gamer’s data files, on local or networked storage media.

A ransom, usually paid via Bitcoin or MoneyPak, is demanded as payment to receive a key that unlocks  the encrypted files. In previous cases, the victim has 72 hours to pay about a relatively small amount of money, usually in the low hundreds of dollars, but after that the ransom rises to over thousands of dollars. We have seen reports that says the gamers are demanded a ransom of about $1,000 via PayPal My Cash Cards or 1.5 bitcoins worth about $430.

“There’s mostly no way to get the data back without paying the ransom and that’s the reason why bad guys focus on this scheme as it generates huge profit, “ said  Jiri Sejtko, Director of Avast Software’s Virus Lab Operations last year when ransomware was making the news. “We can expect some rise in ransomware occurrences,” predicted Sejtko. “Malware authors will probably focus on screen-lockers, file-lockers and even on browser-lockers to gain money from victims.”

That prediction came true, and now ransomware authors are targeting narrower audiences.

How do I get infected with CryptoLocker?

Infection could reach you in various ways. The most common is a phishing attack, but it also comes in email attachments and PDF files. In the new case targeting gamers, the Bromium researcher wrote, “This crypto-ransomware variant has been getting distributed from a compromised web site that was redirecting the visitors to the Angler exploit kit by using a Flash clip.” There is a detailed analysis in the report.

Read more…


March 13th, 2015

Avast at Mobile World Congress 2015

Part of the Avast team was reunited again at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, to show our new apps:  Avast Battery Saver, Avast GrimeFighter and Avast SecureMe, and also other popular apps like Avast Mobile Security and Avast SecureLine.

Jude McColgan, president of Mobile, and Filip Chitry, malware analyst, came from our office in Prague with Petra, Jindra, Zdeněk, Jakub, Petr, Juraj and Farid. Daniel Cheng, Head of Worldwide Mobile Sales and Marketing, came from our offices in Hong Kong and Sung Lyong, came from South Korea. I didn’t travel as I’m working at the host city, the beautiful city of Barcelona. Have you ever been in Barcelona? You should try the famous tapas, walk around Las Ramblas and visit La Sagrada Familia. Feel free to ask us for some recommendations on Twitter! :)

The Avast team arrived the weekend before the Mobile World Congress in order to build up our beautiful and colorful booth, located at the Hall 5, booth 5K29. After one day of exhausting work, the booth was ready to receive all the visitors and the journalists. The booth was really cool, right? ;)

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Everything started on monday. Tens of thousands of people came to the Mobile World Congress, located in Hospitalet de Llobregat (“What are you talking about? The MWC is in Barcelona!” Well, not really, the MWC is located in the second largest city of Catalonia, Hospitalet, next to Barcelona) where besides learning some security tips from the Avast team and learning about our new apps, the visitors were able to see what’s new on the mobile industry, like new smartphones, new wearables, new tablets, etc…

The following days were really successful. A lot of people came to our booth to meet the team and, of course, our new apps.

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Not only visitors, a lot of journalists from all around the world and from different media, from TV channels to tech blogs, came to our booth. Nobody wanted to miss our new apps and our impressive hacking experiment! Everyone was impressed after knowing how, with Avast Battery Saver, you can save up to 7 hours of battery and, of course, after watching our live hacking experiment, where everyone was able to see how important a good security solution is while using a public Wi-Fi.

The whole team was really satisfied with the results achieved at the Mobile World Congress. The feedback received from the visitors was really positive and of course it will help us to improve our top rated security solutions.

Do you want to know what Filip Chitrý, malware analyst at Avast, and Jindra Pistkova, mobile marketing specialist, said about the Mobile World Congress? Watch the following video:

And last but not least, here you have a picture of the team :)

Avast Team

See you next year at Mobile World Congress 2016!

Categories: General Tags: , ,

March 11th, 2015

Avast hacks devices at Mobile World Congress

MWC15 Avast logoThe Avast Mobile Security team demonstrated how easy it is to hack smartphones and tablets at the Mobile World Congress.

 

The sleekest smartphones, the coolest wearable devices, and the best in mobile security were debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. But it was hacking user’s devices at the Avast booth that had the journalist’s buzzing.

Hacking unsecured Wi-Fi is easy enough for any IT college student

Filip Chytry, a mobile malware researcher that you are familiar with if you visit our blog, set up a wireless hotspot in the Avast booth that allowed visitors to track the online activity of any device that connects.

“The site will let Avast capture passwords, messages and other information people type on the websites, and Chytry can even create dead ringers for Gmail or Facebook sign-in screens – - down to the little green padlock icon that indicates a secure connection…,” reported Bloomberg Business in The Easiest Way to Get Hacked: Use Phone at Phone Show.

The hacking demonstration illustrated what Avast found out during a global Wi-Fi hacking experiment conducted right before MWC.

“The study found that people around the world overwhelmingly prefer to connect to unsecured and unprotected Wi-Fi networks instead of password-protected networks,“ wrote Help Net Security in Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.

Avast at MWC15

Most people connect to a completely unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot without a second thought.

Security experts from Avast traveled to 9 cities on 3 continents, and found that Wi-Fi users in Asia are the most prone to attacks. Chicago and London are the most vulnerable in the USA and Europe. Avast’s spokesperson Marina Ziegler told E&T Engineering and Technology magazine, “…in London we found that 54 per cent of routers were weakly encrypted and easily accessible to hackers.”

“That means that if a hacker walks into a pub, he can access the router’s settings and for example reroute the traffic via another malicious server,” said Chytry. “That’s very easy. Every IT college student can do that.”

 


March 10th, 2015

5 ways to thwart the thief who stole your Android

Avast Anti-Theft is free

Remote recovery options help you keep control of your device, even when it’s lost.

Avast Anti-Theft is a free app designed for Android smart phones and tablets. It’s main purpose is to help you locate your lost or stolen mobile device, allowing you to track it on a map and control it remotely. You recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the internet by logging in to your My Avast account.

If your phone is lost or stolen, here are some things you can control remotely:

  1. 1. Locate your device on a map – Whether you misplaced your phone, left on the bus, or a thief grabbed it and ran, the GPS on your phone can be enabled so you can receive continuous GPS location updates.

Avast Anti-Theft user Ducky Boy wrote about his experience finding his phone that he dropped on the highway while riding his motorcycle using the GPS feature. Read about it in On the road with avast! Mobile Security.

  1. 2. SIM card change notification – Thieves usually change the SIM card after stealing a phone. Anti-Theft recognizes when this happens and notifies you of the new number and geo-location so you can maintain contact with your phone.

Partier and Avast user Andreas lost his phone during a particularly fun party. The next morning he remembered he had installed Avast Anti-Theft. Here’s how he got his phone back, Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft! Read more…


March 9th, 2015

Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft!

Andreas L. lost his phone at a party, but that’s not the end of the story. Avast Anti-Theft helped him find the thief and get his phone back.

A lot can happen when you go to a party: you may bump into old friends, make new ones, or dance like there is no tomorrow. Losing track of your personal belongings can also happen when you party, which is exactly what happened to Andreas from Bangkok.

Andreas recently commented the following on our Facebook page:

We were happy to hear Avast Anti-Theft helped Andreas get his phone back and asked him what happened and how exactly he used Avast’s features to get his phone back. Here is his story:

Andreas went to a party in Bangkok where he made new friends, had a few drinks and at the end of the night Andreas responsibly took a taxi home. When he woke up the next morning he realized that every smartphone owner’s worst nightmare had happened to him, his phone was missing! Losing a smartphone is not only frustrating because the hardware is expensive, but because it contains so much personal information.

Avast Anti-theft can help you find your lost phone.

Find your lost phone with Avast Anti-Theft like Andreas did.

Avast Anti-Theft to the rescue!

While Andreas worried about his phone, he received a message from Avast. The message informed him that his phone’s SIM card had been changed and provided him with the new SIM card’s number and service provider. That is when Andreas realized he could use Avast’s other anti-theft features to GPS locate his phone and perform commands like wiping his phone remotely. Luckily, Andreas did not have to go as far as wiping his phone, but the option did help him in his efforts to get his phone back.

I will look for you, and I will find my phone

With his phone’s new number in hand, Andreas called the thief to confront him and demand he return his phone. Andreas let the thief know that he knew his location (and more) and could render the phone useless and go to the police if the thief did not cooperate. The thief gave in and sent Andreas his phone.

Andreas’ story is one of many lost and found stories we have received from Avast Anti-Theft users and each story gets more interesting! From this experience we can only recommend partiers install Avast Anti-Theft before going out, we will have your back so you can party worry free!

You can install Avast Anti-Theft for free from the Google Play Store.

If you have a story to share, write us on our Facebook or Google+ page. We could share it in our blog.