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Archive for December, 2012
December 31st, 2012

Happy New Year!

From the Avast team to you: Have a safe and prosperous 2013!

Happy New Year, Šťastný Nový Rok, Feliz Ano Novo, سنة جديدة سعيدة, 新年快乐, Feliz Año Nuevo, 明けましておめでとうございま, Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, Joyeux Nouvel An, С Новым годом, สวัสดีปีใหม่, Buon anno, नया साल मुबारक हो, Selamat Tahun Baru, Onnellista uutta vuotta, Sretna Nova godina, Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku, Godt Nytår, Glückliches neues Jahr, La mulţi ani, Chúc mừng năm mới, Среќна Нова Година, გილოცავთ ახალ წელს, Manigong Bagong Taon, שנה טובה, Շնորհավոր Նոր Տարի, Gott Nytt År.

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December 26th, 2012

How can I protect my new Android tablet?

Question of the week:  I just got a new Galaxy Note tablet for Christmas. I want to make sure it’s safe and secure before I use it for browsing the internet. Does avast! have protection for tablets?

Congratulations on your wonderful gift, and Merry Christmas! You are wise to think about security for your tablet, because cybercrooks are producing malware for these devices in increasing numbers.

avast! Mobile Security prevents malware and viruses on Android devices at no cost to you. You get Anti-theft protection, remote control and remote memory wipe, plus privacy reports, anti-spyware, network management, Web protection and a firewall. avast! Free Mobile Security is available for download either via Google Play (Android Market) or our website.

Once you have downloaded, do not forget to set your PIN Recovery in the ‘Settings’ section. The PIN Recovery feature is the way to get access to your device in case you lose or forget your avast! PIN. You have to set it in Settings or on the avast! Portal. You can use the avast! Portal for controlling your device remotely in case it is stolen. For this operation your device must be paired with your avast! account – if you do not have one, please sign in on dedicated pages.

Have fun with your new Galaxy tablet, and please share avast! Antivirus with your friends. Happy New Year!

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December 24th, 2012

Avast 2012: The Year in Review

Another busy year is coming to a close at Avast Software. We launched game-changing products for Mac and Android which achieved astounding download numbers and won multiple accolades; we made technical strides in detecting dangerous malware to keep our users safer than ever; we grew our social media presence so that our Facebook fan page is in the top 4 of the software category; and we started a unique program providing business-grade security software to U.S. schools and libraries for free. avast! Antivirus is protecting more than 170 million devices – PCs, Macs, and Android phones and tablets – worldwide.

As the year comes to end, we look back on some of our accomplishments. Here’s our favorite moments of 2012:


  • avast! Mobile Security for Android reached 1 million installations the first week of January – only 10 days after its launch.
  • In one month, avast! recorded 1.87 billion incidents of our users encountering malware.


  • Avast reaches 150 million users worldwide. Three countries -  the USA, Brazil and France -  each have more than 10 million avast! users.
  • avast! Mobile Security for Android reached 2.1 million installations at the beginning of February, and we gave away 10 Samsung Galaxy Nexus phones to celebrate the success.



  • The beta of avast! Free Antivirus for Mac begins and protects users from the Flashback Trojan which infected 600,000 Macs.
  • avast! Free Antivirus 7 receives the Advanced Plus certification by AV-Comparatives detecting 98% of the 300,000 malware tested, surpassing many paid antivirus.


  • We celebrate the launch of avast! Free Antivirus for Mac with a Facebook photo contest, and welcome hundreds of thousands of new fans.
  • avast! Free Antivirus for Mac is the most popular download on CNET’s after only 3 days.





  • avast! Free Antivirus earns another VB100 award.
  • avast! Mobile Security exceeds 10 million installations and maintains 4.7 out of 5 stars rating on Google Play.



  • Avast announces the Free for EDU program which gives our centrally-managed business product free to U.S. schools and libraries.
  • avast! Free Antivirus earns the coveted compatibility certification and the right to display the “Windows 8 Compatible” logo.
  • avast! Internet Security provides 100% protection against banking malware.
  • avast! Free Antivirus receives AV-TEST certification for 100% detection rates of malware.
  • Avast teams up with Socialbakers to monitor and manage its growing presence on social media.
  • Avast users predict results of U.S. presidential election.
  • Avast has 170 million active users.




Categories: General Tags: ,
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December 17th, 2012

“Six Strikes” anti-piracy scheme

Along with resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, and spend more time with the family, many people can add “I will not illegally download stuff from the internet,” to their New Year’s Resolution list for 2013.

The oft-delayed Copyright Alerts System, or “Six Strikes” anti-piracy scheme, is slated to be implemented sometime in early 2013. The six-strikes-and-you’re-out plan employs an alert system through which subscribers of five major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States will be warned that they are breaking the law. That includes illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing of movies, music and other entertainment content.

As a first strike, alleged infringers will be notified that they’ve been tracked on copyright-infringing sites. If the behavior continues, the customer will be required to acknowledge that they received the notices.  After several warnings, ISPs may then take progressively harsher steps to punish the suspected pirates such as temporarily throttling their speeds, blocking access to frequently visited websites or redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP. The ISPs actually stop short of the “you’re out” part, so supposedly a subscriber will not have their service terminated.

The “Six Strikes” system is a result of an agreement between members of The Center for Copyright Information (CCI); a group of ISPs and content creators in the movie and music industries created last year. Rather than being a punitive system, the CCI calls the Six Strikes plan a “progressive educational system” stating in a recent blog post explaining the latest delay that, “Our goal has always been to implement the program in a manner that educates consumers about copyright and peer-to-peer networks, encourages the use of legal alternatives, safeguards customer privacy, and provides an easy-to-use independent review program for consumers to challenge alerts they believe they’ve received in error.”

December 13th, 2012

Is Google Protecting Me After All?

The latest version of Android 4.2, code-named “Jelly Bean” has been released some time ago. While being just an incremental update to the major 4.0 release “Ice Cream Sandwich”, Google introduced some major new features within that update. While offering multi-user support and improved notifications, a new feature which is being promoted heavily, is the built-in app scanner which should protect Android devices from being infected by malware.

The client side app scanner of Android 4.2 is the next step in Google’s attempts to protect their Android ecosystem from malware threats, after introducing Bouncer, a server-side malware scanner used by Google to analyze apps that are being uploaded to Google Play Store. Bouncer was announced in February 2012 and is Google’s approach to prevent malware from being uploaded to the Google Play store as a first line of defense.

Now, some authors claim that third party mobile security tools are most likely not needed anymore, because Google now already pre-checks all mobile apps. I’ve been closely monitoring all those changes and improvements because I wanted to make my own mind on how successful these attempts by Google would be and to find out how our Android antivirus scanner delivered within our free avast! Mobile Security suite ( would stack up to what the operating system vendor itself would be able to provide.

Since months before the release of avast! Mobile Security in December 2011, our virus lab was working on setting up the initial state of our Android malware database. The database contains signatures of all the malicious files our virus lab guys find over time and is being extended day-by-day to contain definitions of the newest threats in real-time. Currently, tens of millions of Android devices owned by our users download those definitions every day to their avast! client side scanners. So I just went to our virus lab and asked the guys there to provide me with some statistics on the growth of our Android malware database.

As I already stated, Bouncer was thought to be the first line of defense, and tries to protect the main source of app downloads from malicious offerings. Could it be that as a result of introducing Bouncer, our malware database stopped growing or started to decline in size when Bouncer was introduced? Has Google been successful? See for yourself:

Android Malware Database History (Source: AVAST)

Android Malware Database History (Click to enlarge)

Obviously, since February 2012, our Android malware growth has not started to decline; it has not even stalled its growth, but has been continuously growing since that point in time. Read more…

December 13th, 2012

My phone is infected! What can I do?

Lots of smartphone users are still unaware of the actual risks arising from the use of smartphones based on operating systems, and they have a tendency to underestimate their security risks. Be honest, how many of you check if an application you install on your phone comes from a trusted source? Do you check which permissions the applications has? How many of you install applications that have “cool icons” and don’t check anything else?

I’ve asked a few people these questions, and was totally surprised by their answers! Even IT geeks don’t read permissions of applications and they just click and install whatever they find.  What’s WORSE is that most of them think  they are secured without any security application.

Do you remember my last article? We identified something very similar,  also coming from blog and upload services such as 4shared. It’s really strange how many hijacked and infected applications are offered through those services.

One month ago, I pointed out a really nasty malware that pretends to be a Google Play app. I looked into what the creators of that malware have been doing for the last month. They definitely haven’t been lazy.

For the last two weeks, we saw more mutations of similar malware, with similar behavior. It sends numerous paid SMS messages to premium numbers without the user being aware of it. They try to pretend it is some kind of wanted application, but you obviously don’t want that.

This malware hide themselves under legitimate-sounding names like Flash Player, Talking Tom Cat, Kaspersky Lite, etc. But  many of the apps have something in common: The package name is the same in hundreds of them. But don’t worry, all of them are detected.



My phone is infected! What can I do?

This leads me to the most important point of this blog post. For those who still believe they are fine without antivirus protection on their smartphone, there are a few steps to follow when you realize your phone is acting strangely.

1)  Switch off GSM module or take out your SIM card immediately. (This should disconnect your phone from the mobile network and prevent losing your money.)

2)  Restore your phone back to factory setup. (Malware should be removed, as well as all your data.)

3)  Put your SIM card back, and you can use your phone again.

4)  Install Avast! Free Mobile Security

Is there a safer and easier way to protect my smartphone?

Luckily, yes. Malware that we meet comes mostly from untrusted sources. People often put the name of a wanted application in their browser and just click on the first URL that comes up. That practice is, of course, really dangerous. The viruses mentioned above come from file sharing servers such as,,, fake blogs, or from fake Android stores. Those file sharing servers are suspicious sources and one should not download applications from there. Even on Google Play you can find a dangerous application once in a while, so you should be cautious even when you look for applications there!

Here’s a quick example. When you search for popular games, for example, “Asphalt 6 adrenaline скачать бесплатно” (free download in Russian language) in one of the top pages on Google you will find a pretty nasty blog full of repacked games but with a small gift in the form of a malware.

My recommendation is to use an antivirus program on your phone – for example, avast! Free Mobile Security – and download applications from less dangerous sources – for example, Google Play,, etc.











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December 12th, 2012

Do governments have an Internet kill switch?

Last week, Syria experienced an Internet blackout which the government blamed on terrorists, but it is suspected that it was planned. During the Arab Spring of 2011, the citizens of Egypt were cut off from the Internet, leaving only a handful of web connections up and running. Complete shutdowns are not unprecedented; the Myanmar (Burmese) government shut down Internet connectivity in 2007, and the King of Nepal severed all international Internet connections in 2005. Chinese authorities also regularly cut off access on a local level.

How can this happen? Do governments have a “kill switch” to turn off the Internet? Does something physical have to happen, like cutting actual cables? Or could the servers in charge of routing traffic simply be programmed to stop transmitting data?

After the Syrian blackout, networking firm Renesys analyzed the connections between a country’s domestic Internet and the outside world.  They found that some are highly regulated with only one or two companies holding official licenses to carry voice and Internet traffic to and from the outside world. “Under those circumstances, it’s almost trivial for a government to issue an order that would take down the Internet,” states the company blog. Sixty-one countries and territories including Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Myanmar, and Yemen are in the “severe risk” category for Internet shutdown.

Egypt falls into the “significant risk” category because they have fewer than 10 service providers at their international frontier. “Disconnection wouldn’t be trivial, but it wouldn’t be all that difficult,” as was demonstrated by the Mubarak government when it took several days to disconnect.

This map shows the global Internet diversity with four categories. Where does your country fall?

  • Severe Risk – 1 or 2 companies at the international frontier
  • Significant Risk – fewer than 10 service providers at the international frontier
  • Low Risk – at least 10 internationally-connected service providers, but no more than 40
  • Resistant – more than 40 providers at the frontier
Categories: General Tags:
December 10th, 2012

Are we hard workers? Yes, but sometimes we need a break!

Traditionally Avast! organizes Christmas party for employees and their closest ones. This year it was in Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Prague and we really enjoyed it. Avast! arranged live music represented by Queenie, a Queen cover band. And we have to admit, these guys were great! Even Freddie Mercury would have been definitely satisfied with their performance. But Avast! also caters to our youngest ones. Last week we had Saint Nicholas’ day in our offices in Prague. There were almost fifty kids, a clown, Saint Nicholas, angel and devil. I believe you can imagine how our offices looked like during this event. :-) We decided to share this few precious moments with you, so you can feel the atmosphere. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we did.



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December 6th, 2012

Hotel key hacker picks a new lock

When it comes to hotel security, I usually check two things: 1. Does the door open to an inside hallway or directly to the outside?, and 2. Does the room have a safe to store my passport and other valuables? Now, it seems, I have a third thing to think about: The electronic key.

Those sturdy plastic keycards have always seemed secure, and up to now, my only concern has been losing it, and having to ask the clerk at the front desk for a replacement. But recently, burglaries in American hotel rooms were linked to an electronic ‘hack’ which can open 4-5 million electronic locks in 200 hotel chains worldwide.

Back in July, at the Black Hat security conference, a Mozilla software developer exposed flaws he discovered in hotel room locks from the lock manufacturer Onity. He demonstrated the ability to break into rooms with a simple, cheap device that could be hidden in an iPhone case. Read how he did it. Since the summer, others have perfected the technique, and now thefts have taken place and an arrest was even made in Texas.

Your data is more important than the device it’s on

With all the devices we carry with us these days – I have a smartphone, laptop, and tablet – securing these gadgets is important. The most important thing about these devices is the data that’s on them, so before you leave on your travels, make sure you backup your files, photos, music, etc. Avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select sets of data or individual files you want to back up.  You can quickly and easily restore files with the avast! BackUp software on your computer and you may also log in to your account online to restore files. Download a free trial here.

For your Android smartphones and tablets, make sure you install and setup avast! Free Mobile Security, our anti-theft and anti-malware app. It has special “stealth” and remote-access features, including lock, wipe and siren, as well as remote text commands, so you are protected against the loss or misuse of your phone.  Get avast! Free Mobile Security for free from Google Play.

Other valuables, such as travel documents, can be placed in the hotel safe. But be aware that even those aren’t entirely secure. Reports have been made that some can be opened with a default code of all zeroes, 0000. Check it out next time. If you don’t trust the in-room safe or your items won’t fit, consider using the hotel front desk guest safes. If you don’t want to make use of a safe, make sure you bring luggage equipped with locks, so you can secure your valuables inside.

Do you have any other tips to keep your devices and yourself secure while staying in a hotel? Please share them.

December 4th, 2012

Cool new contest starts today!

It’s time to win again from avast! Antivirus. Play our new “Member Gets Member” game on Facebook for a chance to win one of the season’s most desired new gadgets – a Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows 8 Pro. Along with these cool tablets, we’ll be giving away 200 licenses for avast! Internet Security.

This game begins today, Tuesday, December 4, 2012, with a new round beginning each Tuesday in December. That’s four chances to win!

Here’s how to play the game:

To start, click on the “Member Get Member” tab on the avast! Antivirus Facebook page.  Accept the app by providing a few pieces of information like your name and email address. Make sure you use a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. As always, your data is completely safe and will not be shared.

Once you do that, you’ll see a shape with your picture in the middle. Click on a bubble to invite your friends to “Like” our page. As your friends like our page, the bubble will turn orange and you will earn points to win a cool new Microsoft Surface tablet! As you fill in a level, you earn bonus points and a new level is opened up. The higher the level, the higher the number of points awarded for each accepted invitation and bonus points for completing the level.

That’s it. Simple and fun.

So hurry up, and start inviting your friends – round 1 has just started. We will be tallying up the points and giving away our first Microsoft Surface tablet and 50 licenses for avast! Internet Security next Tuesday. I hope your name will be on the list!

Let’s play!

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