Protecting over 200 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus


Archive for September, 2010
September 21st, 2010

Behind the scenes (science & alchemy)

Greetings from Central Europe. I’ll not bother to say much about myself (Google is there for any who have a deeper interest), but I’ll tell you that, in summer of 2010, I joined AVAST Software as Web Copywriter – a position that, like many others here, was much needed, as the company has grown, along with its user base, at an almost unbelievable (exponential – about 1 employee per 1 million users) rate in recent years.

The Wizards' Tower

I learned a few things very quickly at AVAST:

  1. Being a web-based company, every action requires simultaneous macro & micro perspectives as to how it will affect (or be affected by) a global community. Localization adds, of course, many more layers of potential difficulties, and our multinational team is priceless as to the insights that its individuals provide.
  2. What applies in terms of marketing & PR (my department) often calls for an extremely different approach than what applies to, for example, e-Commerce, programming, database architecture, QA, sales, support, etc., which are every bit as integral (if not more so) to the quality of the products we offer.
  3. Combined, the two elements above requires (and in our fortunate case are performed by) the top industry talent available. I am amazed to discover, within my first few months at AVAST, that nearly every person I’ve worked on any type of project with has been well above average in terms of work ethic, capabilities, and creativity – characteristics that were not always exactly plentiful at Fortune 100 companies I’ve been involved with in the past.

In a 1,000-year-old city – that, annually, more than 6 million tourists visit to experience the mystical pulse of human history – I suppose avast! was bound to happen. Its founders, two floors above me in the wizards’ tower, continue to surge energy through the walls and floors, to all levels (one can see/hear/feel it at the coffee machines). In modern times, when little Merlins and Gandalfs and even Harry Potters grow up… they make things like avast!

September 17th, 2010

avast! has over 3,000 pirates safely aboard

It was inevitable. With over 130 million registered users, we were going to get some pirate names in our database.

We just were surprised to discover that these pirates are such a large – and creative – crew. Currently, we have some 3,000 self-styled pirate captains in our database including Jack Sparrow, John Silver, and Captain Hook. And that’s before we started “Pirate Talk” and  our micro-page.

From a literary perspective, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films are a much bigger attraction than Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. We have 201 Jack Sparrows compared to only 88 John Silvers. I won’t comment on Long.  With 421 users registered under the “blood“ name, we can say that blood and gore is a continuing attraction.

By far the most popular pirate name is Hook with over 1,000 registrations. But except for those eight people that named themselves Captain Hook, we think that these might be real Hooks.

The most creative of this motley crew gave themselves a pirate name AND registered their location as the Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands, Vanuatu, Gibraltar and Tonga. I am impressed.

Which makes me wonder, apart from Talk Like a Pirate Day (; are there any real captains out there with avast! protecting their ship? If there is, drop by our office in Prague and/or send us some evidence. We will have some sort of treasure for you. ( :

September 16th, 2010

Accurate file names – part 2

Malware writers seem to never sleep and this time their activity refers also to my last article (published yesterday). How is it possible? When I used google today to find references to my blog post, these results appeared:

google search results

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September 16th, 2010

Defining popularity among antivirus programs

Over 130 million reasons why avast! is the most popular

About every antivirus program is calling itself “the most popular” these days. It reminds me of beauty contests in high school – and the dark, unanswered questions about who was doing the counting in the back room.

It is time to talk about how we count at AVAST Software and three distinct, quantifiable categories where avast! is the world’s most popular antivirus:
1. Size of our registered user base. Francisco F. is our 130 millionth currently registered user. This means that after downloading avast!, he asked us to email him a license key and then entered it into the program just milliseconds ahead of a certain Chris, Imrun, Jimmy, Dragana, and Elias to complete his registration.
2. Growth in the number of users during 2010. So far in 2010, we’ve added 34.9 million new users. Our total user base has grown by a third in just ten months.
3. Incredible, near-viral recommendation levels. Over 60% of our new users have come because a friend recommended that they try us. We track this referral statistic because keeping users happy is absolutely critical for our long-term success. I think other AV companies also do – but they just don’t talk about it.

Now you know why we can call ourselves the world’s most popular antivirus program. I don’t know about the other companies.
And when it came to those beauty contests at my high school, they never counted the votes. They just weighed them because all of the ballot papers were the same size.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
September 15th, 2010

Accurate file names

It is always nice when we know what a file does, where it comes from, etc. Most of the time spent on deeper file (samples) analysis goes to uncovering this information. But, sometimes we don’t have to try when everything is obvious like in this case:

fp submission

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Categories: analyses, Virus Lab Tags: , ,
September 6th, 2010

Spring cleaning in our virus database

We would reach 3 millions of detections in our virus database (VPS)  this week, but … this huge number means that when you put all the detections together, there is no difference between sophistical algorithmic detection and “temporary” machine generated detection.

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Categories: lab, Virus Lab Tags: , ,