This week we released a new version of our core PC antivirus product, which we refer to as the Avast Antivirus Nitro Update. The update’s name is Nitro, because it is filled with innovative, new ways to increase speed and increase protection. One of the new ways we are increasing protection is with a cool new proprietary technology called CyberCapture. CyberCapture dramatically raises the bar when it comes to protection against zero-second attacks.
This is a reprint of The elusive "P" which appeared in the January 2016 issue of Indian Management.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, truly.
As we increasingly traverse the virtual realm, we are putting at stake a crucial aspect—our much-treasured privacy.
There is not a lot of privacy on the Internet today. Every place you go – websites, social networks, apps – all know your IP address and where you are located, which they can correlate with your demographics, age, gender, and the websites that you visit. Social networks can even tell advertisers what your political leanings are and which religion you practice, and the Internet knows which books you read, which cosmetics you use, and whether or not you are pregnant, getting married or divorced. At the end of the day, search engine companies and Internet Service Providers know everything about you. With the up-rise of the Internet of Things, Internet-connected devices can dig even deeper into our lives. Our cars remember when we drove where, how fast we went, and what music we were listening to, while our smart watch can tell us more about our health than our doctors can. Privacy is a thing of the past.
A trade-off between convenience and privacy
In our day-to-day usage of the Internet, each of us are either making a conscious or unconscious trade-off between convenience and privacy.
One example of this can be seen in Gmail, the hugely popular email service used by nearly one billion people around the world. Most people will, but others might not recognize that they receive advertisements which are somewhat related to the subject of their emails. This is due to the fact that the subjects of a user’s emails are sent to various advertising engines to come up with relevant content to serve back to the Gmail user. For someone who sent an email with ‘vacation’ in the subject line, this may result in the user receiving ads with flight offers during the following days.
Mobile malware is growing exponentially. We now have more than 1 million malicious samples in our database, up from 100,000 in 2011. Still relatively young, most mobile malware has a pretty simple structure, yet it is designed to effectively steal people’s money. Newer mobile malware is, however, adapting and evolving, slowly embracing more deceitful and complex tactics to target users.
AVAST protects users running Internet Explorer.
Microsoft announced a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over a PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 and was published under the name CVE-2014-1776. Out of all the Internet Explorer users, Windows XP users are most vulnerable as Microsoft recently stopped supporting the operating system and will therefore not issue any security patches, including one to fix this problem.
A few minutes ago, I noticed a new infected email landing in my inbox. The body of the email said:
Please find Attached Invoice payment format of Marina private ltd. Thanks Marina.A.Beg Marina Private Limited Plot No. 544-J, Pace City - II Sector - 37, Gurgaon - 122 004 Haryana - Bharat
That's pretty normal / boring stuff -- and so was the attached ZIP file, which contained a run-of-the-mill sample of a well-known virus family.
However, what grabbed my attention was the footer of the email, which said:
Hello Avast fans!
The Avast Research Lab is where some of the Avast’s brightest brains create new ways of detecting malware.
These are either features inside the product (such as FileRep and autosandboxing, including all of its recent development) as well as components that run on our backend – i.e. things that users don’t necessarily see but that are equally important for the overall quality of the product.
In fact, working on the backend stuff takes up more of their time these days, as more and more intelligence in Avast is moving to the cloud and/or is being delivered in almost real time via the avast! streaming update technology.
The Avast backend classifiers use a number of techniques, but the two hot ones that the team has been working on hard recently are things that we call Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen.
Today, we have released a brand new avast! program update, version number 7.0.1473. It's the last program update we plan to do before version 8 (slated for Q1 2013). I'd like to take this opportunity and explain some of its new features.
First and foremost, the new version is fully compatible with Windows 8 - scheduled to finally hit the stores this Friday. The changes we have made went well beyond just making sure everything works. For example, we had to replace the internals of the Network and Web Shields to accommodate the new networking APIs in Windows 8. Also, we had to make sure avast! plays nicely with the new Windows Security Center and that it correctly handles certain scenarios that are new to Windows 8.
This version of avast! will shortly be officially certified with the Windows 8 Compatible logo, and will be included in the new Windows Store.