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July 31st, 2015

Mr. Robot Review: br4ve-trave1er.asf

This week’s episode of Mr. Robot was an exciting one for us here at Avast – our product made an appearance on the show! In addition to the exploit Avast blocked, there were many other interesting hacks in this week’s episode, which I discussed with Avast security experts, Filip Chytry and Jiri Sejtko.

Mr_Robot_02

Minute 7:00: Elliot is in his apartment with Isaac and DJ. Something about Vera’s brother, Isaac, bugs Elliot and what does Elliot do when he is bugged by someone? He hacks them!

Stefanie: We see Elliot once again turn to the Linux distribution, Kali, to hack Isaac’s cell phone. He seems to do this within a matter of seconds, how easy is this to do?  Later on, when Elliot visits Vera in prison, we learn what Elliot plans to auto-send information from Isaac’s phone to himself. This seems really intrusive and couldn’t Isaac just get a new phone?

Filip Chytry: This is a more advanced hack and unless Elliot had everything prepped before they entered his apartment, this would taken a lot more time to execute (but this is a TV show, so things sometimes happen faster on TV then they do IRL). The Linux distribution Kali, a popular tool for penetration testing, can be used to plant code on a device. But, Isaac’s phone would have had to be connected to either Elliot’s Wi-Fi network or Elliot could have set up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot using a popular network name like “Starbucks Wi-Fi” or “ATT Wi-Fi”, a Wi-Fi network Isaac’s phone had connected to before and would connect to automatically. Elliot would then use Kali to exploit a vulnerability in Isaac’s phone and plant code to send information from the phone to Elliot’s chosen destination. Since Elliot told Vera about this, Vera could have told Isaac and Isaac could have gotten a new phone, but Isaac was not given a happy end in this episode…

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July 29th, 2015

Big Brother(s) Could be Watching You Thanks to Stagefright  

Earlier this week, security researchers unveiled a vulnerability that is believed to be the worst Android vulnerability yet discovered. The “Stagefright” bug exposes nearly 1 billion Android devices to malware. The vulnerability was found in “Stagefright”, an Android media library. Hackers can gain access to a device by exploiting the vulnerability and can then access contacts and other data, including photos and videos, and can access the device’s microphone and camera, and thus spy on you by recording sound and taking photos.

All devices running Android versions Froyo 2.2 to Lollipop 5.1.1 are affected, which are used by approximately 95% of all Android devices.

The scary part is that hackers only need your phone number to infect you. The malware is delivered via a multimedia message sent to any messenger app that can process MPEG4 video format – like an Android device’s native messaging app, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp. As these Android messaging apps auto-retrieve videos or audio content, the malicious code is executed without the user even doing anything – the vulnerability does not require the victim to open the message or to click on a link. This is unique, as mobile malware usually requires some action to be taken to infect the device. The malware could also be spread via link, which could be sent via email or shared on social networks, for example. This would, however, require user interaction, as the video would not load without the user opening  a link. This exploit is extremely dangerous, because if abused via MMS, victims are not required to take any action and there are neither apparent nor visible effects. The attacker can execute the code and remove any signs that the device has been compromised, before victims are even aware that their device has been compromised.

A cybercriminal’s and dictator’s dream

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July 27th, 2015

Free software and services your start-up can use

Get your small business up and running with free software.

Getting a new business off the ground is not an easy task and can be quite costly, but there are a lot of free software and services available online that your new or small business can use as an alternative to paid-for products.

Here is a list (in alphabetical order, so no favorites ;-) ) of some you will find useful:

Avast for BusinessAvast for Business – cloud-managed security

Avast not only provides consumers with free security, but we also provide small and medium sized businesses with free cloud-managed protection. Avast for Business is easy to install and can be managed from anywhere and at anytime.

Facebook Page – alternative to building your own website   
If you’re a restaurant owner or a small boutique you could also, either in addition to or instead of hosting your own website, create a Facebook page for your business. You won’t be able to sell items online, but you can add your business’ address and directions, opening hours, a description of your business and post images and status updates to inform your customers of new items on your menu or of new items available for sale in your store.

Fundera_LogoFundera – loans for your business
Fundera is a free service that offers you loan options and lets you choose the one best suited for your small business. All you need to do is fill out a short questionnaire and then you are presented with loan products, lenders and rates and can apply to the lenders that fit you best with only one application.

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July 25th, 2015

Weekend wrap-up: Cybersecurity news from Avast

Here’s your wrap up of security and privacy related news from the first half of July.

Mr Robot TV shows about hackersWe are very excited to announce the debut of a new series of videos called Avast Hack Chat. Every week we invite a security expert to talk us through the hacks on Mr. Robot, USA Network’s summertime hit TV show. We also talk about current news, technology in pop culture, and tips that you can use in your everyday life to keep your devices and data secure. Please subscribe to Avast Hack Chat on YouTube to see all of our videos.

 

Read our reviews of the hacks

Pilot episode 1: Are the hacks on Mr. Robot real?

Episode 1.1: Mr. Robot Review: Ones and Zer0s

Episode 1.2: Mr. Robot Review: d3bug.mkv

Episode 1.3: Mr. Robot Review: da3m0ns.mp4

Episode 1.4: Mr. Robot Review: 3xpl0its.wmv

It’s too bad that hacking is not just for TV and movies. Even trusted websites can fall victim to cybercrooks. Online shopping just got a little more risky when the largest e-commerce platform was hacked in order to spy on customers and steal credit card data.

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July 24th, 2015

Malware that Just Won’t Give Up on Google Play

A team of malware authors is playing a cat and mouse game with Google. The game goes like this: they upload their malware, Google Play quickly takes it down, they upload a new mutation and Google takes it down. Current status of the game: the malware is back on Google Play. So far, the malicious apps have infected hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.

In April, we discovered porn clicker malware on Google Play posing as the popular Dubsmash app.

Mutant malware

Two days ago, we reported that a mutation of the porn clicker malware, created by a Turkish group of malware authors, made its way back onto Google Play, but have since been removed from the Play Store.

Once the apps were downloaded they did not do anything significant when opened by the user, they just showed a static image. However, once the unsuspecting victim opened his/her browser or other apps, the app began to run in the background and redirect the user to porn sites. Users may not have necessarily understood where these porn redirects were coming from, since it was only possible to stop them from happening once the app was killed. Fellow security researchers at Eset reported that more apps with this mutation were on Google Play earlier this week. Eset also reported that the original form of the malware was uploaded to Google Play multiple times in May. Our findings combined with that from Eset, prove that these malware authors are extremely persistent and determined to make Google Play a permanent residency for their malware.

I’ll be back…

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July 24th, 2015

Can hackers get under the hood of your car?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or texting while driving is still a bigger risk to your safety on the road, but the hacking experiments conducted on technology-heavy cars might be an indicator of break-downs to come.

Security researchers have proven that modern cars can be hacked.

Security researchers have proven that modern cars can be hacked.

Two security engineers proved that a car is not just a transportation device to get from point A to point B, but a vulnerable combination of individual software systems that can be hacked.

Back in 2013, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek hacked a 2010 Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius. The two researchers demonstrated the ability to send commands from their laptop that did things like jerk the steering wheel, give false readings on the speedometer and odometer, sound the horn continuously, and slam on the brakes while going down the road.

They have done it again, this time with a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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July 24th, 2015

How one IT guy manages 500 devices with Avast for Business

The rule of thumb for managing devices is one IT Administrator for every 100 computers or devices. Five hundred is difficult to manage for an entire IT department, let alone one IT Administrator. But, Gary Myers is up to the task.

The Avast team caught up with Myers recently to see what he thinks about the new Avast for Business product. “They say you should have one person for every 100 devices so it’s definitely a challenge.”

Gary explained how he chose new Avast for Business as his security solution. “I’ve been using Avast for a long, long time, so when I saw that there was a new business product, I knew I should give it a try.” Myers says that Avast is a step above the rest and he switched to Avast for Business because he wanted the new features of the cloud-based product.

 

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July 23rd, 2015

Mr. Robot Review: 3xpl0its.wmv

The major theme of this week’s Mr. Robot episode revolved around vulnerabilities. As much as we sometimes try to deny it, we all have weaknesses. Cybercriminals, being the intelligent people they are, unfortunately often use their smarts for evil. They know that it is human nature to have weaknesses since no one is perfect, and they exploit these weaknesses using a tactic called social engineering.

“People make the best exploits”

Whether directly or indirectly, humans and the software they create can be exploited via their weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

FSociety penetrates Steel Mountain, E Corp’s data security center, by exploiting human weaknesses. We first see this happen when Elliot exploits Bill Harper, a sales associate at Steel Mountain, by dismantling his self-worth and telling him that no one in his life really cares about him. Elliot then requests to speak to someone who matters and Bill, disheartened and humiliated, calls his supervisor.

To FSociety’s surprise, Trudy comes instead of Wendy, the supervisor they were expecting and were prepared to utilize to get into the next level of Steel Mountain. This slightly throws off FSociety for a few seconds, but they make a quick comeback by doing a bit of online research. They learn that Trudy’s weakness is her husband and use a Linux distribution called Kali to send her a text message appearing to be sent from her husband saying that he is in the hospital. I researched more about this tool and found out that when using it, it is possible for anyone to spoof SMS and make messages appear as if they are from a number the recipient knows — a trick that is also employed in fraud emails.

The interesting thing about this, though, is they say they do not have Trudy’s number, just her husband’s number. Yet, they type her number into the program to send the message.

via USA Network - Mr. Robot airs on USA Network Wednesdays at 10/9 central

via USA Network – Mr. Robot airs on USA Network Wednesdays at 10/9 central

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July 23rd, 2015

Microsoft releases emergency Windows patch after discovery of critical security flaw

With the release of their newest operating system just days away, now is not the most convenient time for Microsoft to be facing and dealing with security bugs. However, two thirds of all 1.5 billion PCs operated by Windows across the globe were recently left vulnerable due to a security flaw found in nearly every version of Windows, including Windows 10 Insider Preview.

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

The flaw (MS15-078) lies within the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library and can be exploited by cybercriminals to hijack PCs and/or infect them with malware. Users can be attacked when they visit untrusted websites that contain malicious embedded OpenType fonts. Microsoft explains more about the threat in a security bulletin advisory:

An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit this vulnerability, such as by convincing a user to open a specially crafted document, or by convincing a user to visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library handles OpenType fonts.

The flaw has been classified as critical, which is Microsoft’s highest measured level of threat. Anyone running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Server 2008, Server 2012 and Windows RT are affected by the flaw. Microsoft’s online Security TechCenter includes a full list of affected software and additional vulnerability information.

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July 23rd, 2015

5 steps to secure your Facebook account login

Facebook on mobile phone

Secure your Facebook account against unwanted guests

Social networks have become an integrated part of our lives. Facebook is not just a simple communication channel anymore but an important source of daily news, information about brands, as well as a selling platform. Thanks to mobile apps, we access it everywhere and anytime we want. As active consumers we should take even better care of our security while using the service.

How to set up a secure login for your Facebook account

1. Set up double verification, or so called Login Approvals to achieve your desired security level during the login process. Every time you  login into your account, Facebook will send you a newly generated code via SMS to enter to finish login process. Login approval will allow you to better control who can access your account.  Detailed instructions how to set it up can be found here.

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