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


May 28th, 2015

The Internet of Things (to be hacked)?

The Jetsons (via philosophymatters.org)

Soon, we’ll be living like The Jetsons (image via philosophymatters.org)

By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected.
–Eric Schmidt, Google chairman

As a rule of thumb, it’s good to keep in mind that anything and everything that can be connected to the Internet can be hacked. Poorly designed or implemented systems could expose serious vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Now, most of us are fairly familiar with certain gadgets that can be connected to the Internet, such as mobiles devices and/or laptops, smart watches, and cars, but what about the things that are still emerging within the Internet-connected world? Some of these new items include routers, sensors, and everyday gadgets such as alarm clocks, wearables, microwaves, and grills.

When dealing with the devices that we’ve come to know and love, such as our Android phones or iPads, we already encounter a multitude of shortcomings within privacy policies, unintentional data leakages, and the transmission of tracking and personal data in clear text. Taking this a step further, it’s both intriguing and frightening to think about the challenges we will face as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more and more of a reality. In a recent article published by the Guardian, author Marc Goodman paints an evocative picture of a world powered by the IoT:

Because your alarm clock is connected to the internet, it will be able to access and read your calendar. It will know where and when your first appointment of the day is and be able to cross-reference that information against the latest traffic conditions. Light traffic, you get to sleep an extra 10 minutes; heavy traffic, and you might find yourself waking up earlier than you had hoped.

When your alarm does go off, it will gently raise the lights in the house, perhaps turn up the heat or run your bath. The electronic pet door will open to let Fido into the backyard for his morning visit, and the coffeemaker will begin brewing your coffee. You won’t have to ask your kids if they’ve brushed their teeth; the chip in their toothbrush will send a message to your smartphone letting you know the task is done. As you walk out the door, you won’t have to worry about finding your keys; the beacon sensor on the key chain makes them locatable to within two inches. It will be as if the Jetsons era has finally arrived.

So how can we use these space-age technologies to our advantage? Although most software is still in the process of being optimized for wearables and other emerging smart gadgets, there are three main things to be on the lookout for as we move into the IoT’s heyday:

  • Issues on devices that could result in device loss, poorly programmed apps, or attacks driven by social engineering
  • Transmission issues caused by low-level encryption on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that could result in traffic sniffing, man-in-the-middle and redirection attacks
  • Storage issues in the cloud that could directly result in data breaches

The sure-fire way to defend yourself against these vulnerabilities is to use a VPN when connecting to open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Windows, Android and iOS.


May 26th, 2015

Where is my phone? Avast Anti-Theft knows.

Giri got his stolen phone back because of Avast Anti-Theft

Giri got his stolen phone back because of Avast Anti-Theft

A stranger broke into Giri C’s house last September. The thief looked through Giri’s belongings for something of value. He found a MotoE Phone and grabbed it. Mobile phones are an easy target because the thief can just slip in a new SIM card and resell the phone on the black market.

What this thief didn’t know was that Giri had installed Avast Anti-Theft protection. Avast Anti-Theft allows you to set up your desktop account or use a friend’s phone to remotely locate your device, lock it, activate the remote siren, or wipe its data clean.

When the SIM card is changed without the right permissions, Anti-Theft recognizes it and notifies you of the new number and geo-location so you can maintain contact with your phone. You can also activate a loud, customizable siren, which screams at maximum volume if the thief tries to silence it.

Giri reported the robbery to the local Bangalore police, and after a few days he received a call saying that someone had turned the phone into the station.

”When I received the phone from the police,” Giri told us, “the phone was giving the SIREN sound that my mobile is stolen due to the settings I have configured. I understand that the person who had stolen it might have tried replacing the SIM but he was not able to do it as it has locked the phone and the weird sound frightened him.”

Avast Anti-Theft has a loud alarm

The siren continuously and loudly says the following, by default, when activated: “This device has been lost or stolen!”. In the advanced settings of Avast Mobile Security you can customize what message the siren will sound, if you do not want to use the pre-set message. You can do this under “Select Sound File” or “Record Siren Sound”.

“I feel I recovered my stolen mobile only because of AVAST,” said Giri. “I thank your company for such a wonderful and useful product.”

Giri added a tip for other Android phone owners:

“More than using just anti-virus, it’s better to use software with proper tracking available which will be useful to avoid misuse of the phone, as similar features are not available in Android.”

Avast Anti-Theft is available on Google Play, where it can be downloaded for free.


 

Share your story with Avast

Share your story with Avast

Have you experienced  an attack or breach of your home network? Had your phone lost and/or stolen? We’d like to hear from you about your experience and how Avast saved the day — write to us with your story at wannabesocial@avast.com.  If we post it on our blog, then we will send you an Avast goodie box. :-)


May 25th, 2015

Explaining Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature

Avast scans HTTPS

Avast Web Shield scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.

Internet users with basic security knowledge are aware that they should look for the padlock icon in the address bar or the HTTPS in a web address to indicate that a website is secure. We have gotten used to seeing it on bank sites or shopping carts where we input our credit card information. More and more, regular websites are making the switch from unencrypted HTTP to encrypted HTTPS. Last year, search giant Google sweetened the pot by adding HTTPS to their ranking algorithm. That action encouraged webmasters everywhere to make the switch to HTTPS.

But is HTTPS really more secure than HTTP?

The simple answer is not always. As more and more online services are moving to HTTPS, attacks are increasing. An encrypted connection ensures that the connection cannot be modified by anyone else, but it does not guarantee that the actual content being downloaded is safe. Just as with plain HTTP, if a legitimate website is hacked, malware scripts and binaries can be placed into the HTTPS page that appears to be safe.

That’s why it is imperative for security software to check this attack vector. To address this, Avast’s trusted Web Shield technology scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.

How Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature works (the short version)

Avast is able to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in our Web-content filtering component. To detect malware and threats on HTTPS sites, Avast must remove the SSL certificate and add its self-generated certificate. Our certificates are digitally signed by Avast’s trusted root authority and added into the root certificate store in Windows and in major browsers to protect against threats coming over HTTPS; traffic that otherwise could not be detected.

Avast whitelists websites if we learn that they don’t accept our certificate. Users can also whitelist sites manually, so that the HTTPS scanning does not slow access to the site.

This video gives you an overview, but if any of this didn‘t make much sense to you, read below for a more detailed explanation. You can also explore the FAQ about HTTPS scanning in Web Shield.

What is HTTP and why is it being changed?

HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is the network protocol used to deliver virtually all files and other data on the World Wide Web. When you visit a website you may see the HTTP:// prefix in the address. This means your browser is now connected to the server using HTTP. The problem with HTTP is that it is not a secure way to establish a connection, opening a door to cybercrooks who want to eavesdrop on your activities.

Read more…


May 21st, 2015

Avast Home Network Security is ideal for the self-employed

Don't let your router be the weakest link when it comes to protecting your home business.

Don’t let your router be the weakest link when it comes to protecting your home business.

For those of us who are self-employed and/or work from home, our houses are sacred spaces on both personal and professional levels. Although often overlooked, our routers hold the key to our productivity, as they provide the powerful and consistent network connection that we depend on in order to get our work done. Unfortunately, we often take these little guys for granted, and because of this, routers have become the weakest security point in many home and small business networks these days.

“Unsecured routers create an easy entry point for hackers to attack millions of American home networks,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. “If a router is not properly secured, cybercriminals can easily gain access to an individual’s personal information, including financial information, user names and passwords, photos, and browsing history.”

Securing your router is vital for both you and your business

You may have heard about the recent NetUSB driver flaw that made millions of routers vulnerable to malicious attacks. Unfortunately, this is just one case surrounded by the larger issue of users not taking the necessarily precautions to properly secure their home networks.

Avast now features Home Network Security (HNS), which scans for home router security problems. Avast is the only security company to offer a tool to help you secure this neglected area. 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.

In addition to protecting your devices using Avast Home Network Security, there several steps you can take in order to further improve your router’s security.

  • Change the default admin username and password to a strong password. Do not use default passwords because they’re generated from well-known algorithms that makes hacker attacks even easier. Do not use your name, date of birth, home address or any personal information as the password.
  • Turn off WPSthe automated network configuration method that makes your wireless password more vulnerable to hacker attacks.Turn on WPA2 encryption and, if you can, protect it with a strong password.
  • Change the default admin username and password to a strong password. Do not use default passwords because they’re generated from well-known algorithms that makes hacker attacks even easier. Do not use your name, date of birth, home address or any personal information as the password.
  • Upgrade your router firmware to fix known vulnerabilities of the router.
  • Don’t forget to log out after managing the router, avoiding abuse of the authenticated browser sessions.

 

The Home Network Security Solution is available in free and paid versions of Avast. Get it at www.avast.com.



May 20th, 2015

New ASUS ZenPad to come with Avast Mobile Security

ASUS partners with Avast

ASUS partners with Avast

ASUS, the third largest consumer notebook vendor in the world, has selected Avast Mobile Security to be pre-loaded on its new line of Android powered tablets.

These tablets, called ZenPad, will be debuted at the upcoming Computex in Taiwan this June. The much anticipated 7-inch ZenPad 7 will give customers 12 months of Avast Mobile Security and allow free access to premium versions of Avast Backup and Avast Anti-theft.

“Avast is honored to collaborate with ASUS to provide consumers with the security to remain worry free in today’s always-on and always-connected world,” said Vince Steckler, CEO at Avast. “Consumers are relying on tablets for personal computing more than ever before, and storing massive data and information on these devices. With Avast Mobile Security preloaded on ASUS devices, today’s mobile consumer can have peace of mind browsing the Internet, knowing their devices and personal data are protected across a wide range of threats from malware to Wi-Fi hacks.”

Details of the ASUS ZenPad 7 have been leaked and are reported to have the following specs:

  • 7-inch IPS display screen
  • 1024 x 600 pixel resolution
  • Intel Atom x3
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB/16 GB built-in storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Front/back cameras
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Other models with Avast Mobile Security pre-installed include Z300C, Z380/CX, Z370C and Z370CG.

Avast Mobile Security is top-rated by users on Google Play Store and by independent testing organizations including AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. In addition to being available preloaded on ASUS tablets, Avast solutions are available on Google Play and in the Apple Store.


May 19th, 2015

Wise up and get smarter with your data

Most of us can agree that we don’t want our personal data falling into other people’s hands. This may seem like an obvious concept, but with the amount of data we regularly share online, it’s not such an uncommon occurrence that our information is wrongfully passed onto others. In this clever video published by Facebook Security, we learn how to nip scams in the bud and prevent others from tricking us into sharing personal information.

Ever had someone approach you online saying they are a foreign prince and asking for your personal information? Watch…

Posted by Facebook Security on Monday, May 18, 2015

In order to keep your personal data secure, make sure to practice the following:

  • Shred all personal documents before throwing them away. This is especially important when dealing with bank statements and bills.
  • Be mindful of what you post on social media and other online forums.
  • Choose your passwords carefully. Keep them diverse and don’t use the same password for each of your accounts.
  • Use security software on all of your devices and make sure that it’s up to date.

How to spot a hacker before it’s too late? As the video’s narrator warns, “Beware of anyone requesting your personal data or money, whether over the phone, via email or online. They may pretend to be a romantic interest, a family member in trouble, or even a foreign prince – odds are, they’re not.”

 


May 18th, 2015

The Tar Heel State welcomes Avast Software

Avast announces the opening of our new Charlotte, N.C. office.

Avast announces the opening of our new Charlotte, N.C. office.

During this beautiful spring in “The Queen City” aka Charlotte, North Carolina, new Avast Software offices have opened their doors bringing 60 IT, marketing, business development, and technical support jobs to the area.

The flagship product launching out of the Charlotte office is Avast for Business, the new free, easy-to-use, cloud-managed security offering designed with small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and small government in mind. Luke Walling, a long time Charlotte resident, is the general manager and vice president of Avast for Business.

“We’re thrilled to open doors in Charlotte,” said Walling. “With state-of-the-art facilities in North Carolina coupled with regional offices across the globe, Avast is in prime position to ensure our customers receive top-notch security solutions for their PCs, Macs and servers. As small business owners realize the essential need for data protection in today’s digital world, we’re happy to provide a free product that’s both reliable and secure. Charlotte has been home to me for many years and I’m pleased to report such a strong start.”

Since its launch in February 2015, Avast for Business has been adopted by 75,000 new customers.The freemium software model that Avast brings will change the complexion of security products for small businesses that are often priced out of the security game by expensive resellers, or forced to settle on using consumer-grade security software for business purposes. Avast for Business provides an easily managed and scalable solution for SMBs.

Avast expects to hire about 60 people based in Charlotte within the next few months. Job listings can be found on the Avast careers website and at this writing include positions such as Technical Support Specialist, Marketing Specialist, and several positions for Software engineers and a Senior UX Design/Creative.

The growing team is settling into their new office space, and with perks like an Avast orange pool table, free-flowing coffee and soft drinks, and team-building dinners and fun days out, they are sure to build upon their initial success.

Welcome to Avast, Charlotte!


May 14th, 2015

Technology mistakes to stop making today

We love our fans and followers on Twitter because they frequently alert us to great resources. It happened today when we received a tweet from @LoveNerds4Ever letting us know that Avast Antivirus was mentioned on a Sacramento (California) News10 video segment. Thanks, Shawna!

The guest on this video segment is Ryan Eldridge, co-founder of Nerds on Call, a computer repair Business in Sacramento. He spoke to reporter Keba Arnold about technology mistakes that people typically make. These simple, but oh, so important points, are ones that we continually try to make, and Ryan puts it all together in one good video.

Watch Tech mistakes to stop making now.

The security recommendations that Ryan makes:

  • Run updates on your computer and mobile phone. Program updates and security patches are very important to keep your device up to date and running optimally.
  • Download apps and programs from places you know and trust. On your mobile phone this would be the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store. For your computer, he says it’s a little bit harder, but suggest that you visit download.com, CNET’s well-known download site where you can read user reviews and see the reputation of the app before you download.
  • Ryan reminds computer users that when they get a new device antivirus software may be pre-installed, but it is a trial for a limited time.  After it expires, you need to get protected with a quality antivirus product. Ryan recommends Avast Free Antivirus for your computer, your Mac, and your mobile phone.
  • Ms. Arnold confesses that she has one email address that acts as a catch-all for everything. Ryan says this is a no-no because if a hacker breaks into that email address, then he has access to everything. Ryan suggests that you have separate email addresses for friends and family, work, one for shopping, and one for banking.
  • Passwords, admittedly are a pain in the you-know-what. Ryan suggests using an algorithm, or a kind of personal code, to construct your own passwords. For example, you can use a line from your favorite song, say Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Use the first letter of each word, use letters from the website name, and end with a series of numbers. Each password will be unique and known only to you.

And Ryan, we have a tip for you! Small businesses like yours need security protection too, and consumer antivirus like Avast Free Antivirus, doesn’t do the trick when you need to manage multiple devices, platforms, and people in remote locations. Adding to our collection of free products is the new Avast for Business. Avast for Business is free to use for as long as you want and for an unlimited number of admins and devices.


May 12th, 2015

5 questions with: Tomáš Heřmanský (Product Manager)

Tomáš Heřmanský

Tomáš joined Avast in March 2014 as a Product Manager for Avast Mobile Security. Born in Čáslav, a small town in central Bohemia, he moved to Prague during high school with plans to study at the Police Academy of the Czech Republic. After a while, Tom decided he wanted to study and work in IT instead. After gaining experience while working at a successful Czech startup, taking on jobs as a freelancer and starting his own company focused on cloud document management, Tom joined Avast’s mobile team. In his free time, Tom enjoys climbing, cycling, writing and restoring his classic Škoda 1000 MB car.


 

1. What is Avast’s mobile team out to accomplish?

We’d like to become the most trusted mobile tools developer, allowing users to live their lives with their mobile devices safely and more easily.

2. Who or what helps you in coming up with new, creative ideas?

My colleagues are a huge inspiration to me. That’s one thing that I really enjoy about working at Avast – anyone and everyone can come up with new ideas to brainstorm. We are one big think tank. :)

3. What’s one thing that every user should know about his/her mobile device?

Users should be aware of the risks that mobile malware poses to their personal information and data. Although malware on mobile devices is less likely to break a user’s device than that of a PC, malicious apps can harvest and steal a lot of personal data. Even apps that aren’t malicious (often free apps) can access a lot of personal information. The more personal info that is shared, the more likely it is that a user’s privacy could become compromised.

4. What’s your favorite security tip?

Make sure to be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Packet sniffing, or the monitoring of data traveling over a network, can be used to steal information and is very easy for hackers to carry out. It’s in your best interest to use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to unsecured networks.

5. Name one goal you’ve set for yourself at Avast.

I’d like to see Avast Mobile Security (AMS) become the most popular app that provides users with a straightforward, user-friendly overview of app permissions. AMS is an extremely versatile app with lots of potential, and I envision it serving as a true “guarding angel” for users, protecting them against mobile malware and allowing them to become familiar with the apps they use on a daily basis.


 

Avast’s mobile team recently held the second Avast Mobile Internal Conference (AMIC) in Prague, where the entire team came together to keep one another in the loop about the company’s apps and products, team activities, and goals for the department’s future. A series of lectures and interactive activities encouraged synergy and collaboration between product teams. In addition to everything that was accomplished at AMIC, the mobile team still managed to have quite a bit of fun at the conference. We’d like to congratulate the mobile department on this successful and productive event!

 

 


May 6th, 2015

Support for older Avast versions will end

At the end of this month, Avast will end product enhancement support for older consumer versions of Avast Antivirus – we will not be ending security support for these products. Customers will continue to receive threat updates and will continue to be fully protected. The versions are 8.0.1497 and lower of the following products: Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Pro Antivirus, Avast Internet Security, and Avast Premier.

People using older versions will continue to receive virus definition updates and be protected. However, we recommend everyone to upgrade to the new version to benefit from better detection rates and new features.

Avast boxshots

Update to Avast 2015 for maximum protection.

A good antivirus program is a necessity to protect your Windows PC from malware attacks, to keep your computer running smoothly, and to protect your online identity and personal data. Over the past 3 years, Avast engineers have improved our database of known virus definitions, the mechanism in which  zero- day and widespread malware are detected, and the frequency of streaming updates sent to our customers. Avast 2015, with its unique Home Network Security feature which scans your home network for potential risks, is our best performing security product yet.

After May 31st, 2015, Avast will no longer provide patches or technical support for versions 8.0.1497 and lower. Please update to the latest version so you can benefit from the enhanced features and higher detection rates that protect your computer from malicious attacks. This update is also recommended because the latest version is compatible with Windows 10.

If you are running an older version of Avast, you can easily move to the latest version of Avast 2015.

How to check for the latest version and do a program update

If you need to update later, here’s a quick way to do it.

  • Right click on the orange Avast ball icon in the system tray.
  • Select Update from the menu and then click Program.

The update screen in the Avast user interface shows you the overall progress of the program update. When it’s done you will be asked to restart your computer. Click Yes to reboot immediately. Once the computer is restarted, information about the update may appear. If you are using a paid subscription, then your protection will be valid for the remaining period of your subscription.

 

Why to upgrade

  • Better detection rates
  • Easier technical support
  • We fixed bugs and problems that still might exist on your current version
  • Receive further program updates to ensure best protection
Av-Comparatives data

Avast 2015 has better detection rates than older versions. Update as soon as possible for maximum antivirus protection.

If you prefer an older version of Avast and require technical support, you will still receive virus definition updates and be protected, but our support team will ask you to update the product first before we can assist you.