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Archive for January, 2012
January 29th, 2012

Unexpected Czech footprint

I’ve already seen many strange things inside malware packers, but there’s always something surprising. The latest time, it was during the analysis of packer used to wrap Zbot, LockScreen and similar binaries (detected under various MalOb-* [Cryp] names). There’s a block of allocated memory with a long list of names. But these names are not used for anything related to malware execution, they’re not visible to the user (unless you emulate/trace the sample), they have no special purpose. But why they are there? And where’s the Czech footprint?

Read more…

January 27th, 2012

Here comes the Sun. There goes the Internet.

Last year, the Egyptian government shut down the Internet for 5 days during the anti-government protests. Last week, some websites on the Internet voluntarily blacked out to protest SOPA. What would happen if the whole Internet went black? Scientists thought it could happen this week.

The massive solar storm that bombarded Earth’s magnetic field Tuesday morning caused minor disruptions to spacecraft and power grids, and airline flights were rerouted to avoid downtime in radio communications. Scientists speculated that if the angle of the electromagnetic burst would have been different, we may have experienced a major power failure like one that happened in a 1989 solar storm. Six million people in Quebec lost electricity then, and the effects were felt through many parts of the continental U.S. because of the inter-connectivity of the power grids. This storm was much stronger.

What would it be like if we lost the Internet for an extended amount of time? For many businesses it would be catastrophic. But on a personal level, it would be freeing. Certainly, communication would be different. If I want my friends to know my status, I actually have to talk to them. Commerce would look differently too.  If I needed to buy something, I would have to visit the bank to withdraw money and then go to the store to make my purchase. Knowledge would still be at my fingertips, but I would have to look in a book to find it. And if I wanted to watch the humorous antics of a funny kitty, I would have to go over to my mom’s house to see Jasmine the cat push her catnip toy across the floor. It actually doesn’t sound like too bad of a day.

What would you miss the most if the Internet disappeared? How would your life change? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


January 27th, 2012

Relative exposure to malware

If you work at an antivirus company, be sure that family members will soon ask you questions about computers and the latest malware. Sometimes, they will even send you some. The other day, I got an odd email from my cousin, soon followed by a similar note from my sister that contained this:

The two of them – completely unintentionally – sent me a personalized bit of spam/malware. This was quite nice. After all, there aren’t so many Lyle’s in the world and I thought it was really considerate of some malware writers to address me directly. So I asked Jan Sirmer in the AVAST Virus Lab to tell me about how it was done and the goal of this malware. Here are his comments: Read more…

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January 20th, 2012

I’ll show you my password, if you’ll show me yours

On the heels of the Zappos cyber robbery last Sunday that left 24M customers fretting over stolen passwords and email addresses, articles are being published about how people can protect themselves online. The number one point is always about passwords. Clean up your passwords. Never Share Your Password. Create different passwords for different accounts.

Sage advice, which we at AVAST support. We even have a dedicated password manager called avast! EasyPass to help you juggle it all. The theft at Zappos and the struggle for greater online privacy made it even more startling when I read about the growing trend among teenagers to share their passwords as an act of trust with their current BFFs. Read more…

January 18th, 2012

What’s hot at AVAST Software?

The second week of January 2012 started with amazing growth in terms of numbers for AVAST Software. Numbers and stats might not sound that “hot” and maybe you are wondering why I would write a blog post about it, but these numbers are REALLY HUGE and it is YOU – our avast! Community – who greatly helped us to achieve such results. Look at this:

1. Over 500,000 – fans of the avast! antivirus official page on Facebook.

Read more…

January 17th, 2012

24M Zappos shoe buyers’ accounts get hacked

Just received cool new suede Pumas from Zappos last week, and this week I received an email explaining that my account was breached.

Turns out that the popular online shoe and clothing retailer was attacked by cybercriminals who gained access to parts of the internal network through one of the servers in Kentucky. One Sunday, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Amazon-owned Zappos wrote on the company blog that 24+ million customers were affected, but critical credit card and other payment data was not affected or accessed. The hackers failed to get payment card numbers, because that data is encrypted, as required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

The company sent an email to every one of their customers explaining the situation including what information was stolen: Customer name, email address, billing and shipping addresses, phone number, the last four digits of customers’ credit card number, and/or cryptographically scrambled passwords.

Zappos took swift action by expiring and resetting passwords, and they set up a  password change webpage for customers to create new ones. “We also recommend that you change your password on any other web site where you use the same or a similar password,” the email sent to affected customers states.

As a result of stolen credentials, phishing attacks that try to steal sensitive information like social security numbers or lead you to a website that attempts to install a virus, are more likely. “As always, please remember that will never ask you for personal or account information in an e-mail,” the blog statement says. “Please exercise caution if you receive any emails or phone calls that ask for personal information or direct you to a web site where you are asked to provide personal information.”

avast! EasyPass is a fast, easy way to manage all your passwords. avast! EasyPass generates strong, unique passwords for every site you visit – with just one click. The best part is that you access your passwords using one Master Password, so you don’t have to remember lots of passwords. Learn more about avast! EasyPass.

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January 13th, 2012

Internet blackout scheduled in protest of SOPA

Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 9:09 a.m.

Last night I spent an inordinate amount of time on reddit looking at pictures of baby hedgehogs, reading a Q&A with a theoretical physicist, and catching up on the intended blackouts protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister bill, Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Haven’t heard about SOPA? It’s no wonder, since the mainstream media has been curiously silent on the issue. Maybe it’s because most of the big news outlets are owned by companies supporting SOPA. Nonetheless, reddit and others, such as Tucows, Cheezburger, game developer Red 5 Studios, and hacktivist group Anonymous, hope to make the issue broadly known with a coordinated internet blackout scheduled for January 18th. Things will really get interesting if the “nuclear option” is implemented where the likes of Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Ebay, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Mozilla, Twitter, and PayPal “go simultaneously dark” to join them in protest of the bill. Read more…

January 13th, 2012

From color pink to infectious binary

My daughter should be credited (or blamed) with the  Cute, Pink, and Infected release.

She was playing games on my computer and suddenly screamed: “The internet has stopped!”

Yes indeed, the browser had shut down on her. All I knew at the time was that this involved some online games and a google search using the word “games” or “hry” (games in Czech).

Back at the office, I started sifting through the list of infected sites for those with “game” or “arcade” in the URL and found quite a few. Even better, there were even two sites, and, that looked something like the game sites she had been visiting. Read more…

January 12th, 2012

Should I join Binary Blood Day?

What is Binary Blood Day? This is a volunteer activity that was started less than a year ago. The idea behind it is simple -the IT guys can help make better world or just give their binary blood
and save a life!

I’m still not absolutely sure if I will manage to join this year. I’m not scared of needles so much (unlike some of my AVAST colleges) however, it would be my first blood donation. Usually my focus has been to keep my personal blood supply intact. 

If you would like to join (or support) us, look at the “official site” – or you can start up the event in your own town. Currently there are six points in the Czech Republic and one in Switzerland.  If you want to join, there are a few things that you should know of before you join. Just check the official pages in your country as the specific conditions may vary:

I’ll most probably join this time. It’s time to add some AVAST “participation” in this project. After all, we spend so much time looking at computer infections, it would be good to make a healthy contribution.  Information about this was first tweeted half year ago – at!/binarybloodday


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January 10th, 2012

avast! Free Mobile Security: Over one million users in 16 days

avast! Free Mobile Security – the new anti-theft and anti-malware app from AVAST Software – has been installed by over one million smartphone users in just 16 days.

This threshold was crossed on January 6, only 16 days after avast! Free Mobile Security was placed in the official Android Market.

“This has been a really fast-paced launch, surpassing the results from competing products,” said Ondrej Vlcek, CTO for AVAST Software. “It required Lookout a full six months to reach the one-million level for their mobile security product.”

avast! Free Mobile Security is a full-featured anti-theft and anti-malware app for Android smartphones. Read more…