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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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

July 18th, 2015

How to thoroughly wipe your phone before selling it

Make sure your Android phone is wiped clean before you sell it.

Every day, tens of thousands of people sell or give away their old mobile phones. We decided to buy some of these used phones to test whether they had been wiped clean of their data. What we found was astonishing: 40,000 photos including 750 photos of partially nude women and more than 250 male nude selfies, 750 emails and texts, 250 names and addresses, a collection of anime porn, a complete loan application, and the identity of four of the previous phone owners.

How did we recover so much personal data?

The problem is that people thought they deleted files but the standard features that came with their operating system did not do the job completely. The operating system deleted the corresponding pointers in the file table and marked the space occupied by the file as free. But in reality, the file still existed and remained on the drive.

Read more…

July 17th, 2015

Patches from Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft released

Avast Software Updater helps you apply software updates.

Earlier this week, we told our readers about the three Flash Player zero-day vulnerabilities that were found in stolen files that were leaked from the Hacking Team. We advised Avast users to disable Flash until the bugs are fixed.

It doesn’t look good for Flash. Because of the continuing security problems facing the 20-year old platform, Google and Mozilla each announced this week that their Web browsers will eventually be dropping default support for Adobe Flash, and Facebook’s new security chief wants to kill Flash. For now you can still use it, but the reports of it’s death are not greatly exaggerated…

Read more…

July 13th, 2015

Adobe Flash zero-day vulnerabilities threaten your security

Last Friday, Adobe confirmed two new “critical” zero-day flaws in the Adobe Flash Player browser plugin 18.0.0.204 – and earlier versions – for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Today, a third flaw was found. Adobe Flash Player is a widely distributed multimedia and application player used to enhance the user experience when visiting web pages or reading email messages.

We recommend disabling Flash until the bugs are fixed. 

Three "critical" zero-day flaws in Adobe Flash Player discovered

Three “critical” Flash zero-day flaws in Adobe Flash Player discovered

Security experts say the two flaws were found in stolen files that were dumped earlier this month from Hacking Team, an Italian security firm that sells communication interception and surveillance software to governments around the world. The third one came from the same documents.

“Successful exploitation could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system,” Adobe said in their blog. “Depending on the privileges associated with the user account targeted, an attacker could install programs on the system, alter or delete data, create new accounts with similar user rights, or cause a denial-of-service.”

Read more…

July 11th, 2015

Does Avast slow down my computer?

When your computer slows to a crawl, it is very frustrating. One of the worst things that people do when trying to restore the performance of their PC is to remove the security software. Getting rid of your protective barrier just opens you up to threats that could make things even worse.

So you know that you need a security product on your computer, but you don’t want any software to impact the speed or performance. That’s why an excellent choice is Avast antivirus products.

Avast got the highest rating for Performance from AV-ComparativesAvast provides high detection rates and good protection against malware, but it does not degrade system performance or annoy users by being resource hungry.

But don’t take my word for it.

AV-Comparatives, a well-known and trusted third party testing lab, recently tested 20 antivirus and internet security products. Avast Free Antivirus topped every single one of them – paid security suites and free antivirus protection – and received an Advanced Plus three star award for the May 2015 Performance Test.

Reasons why your PC may be slow

It is not always security software that is responsible for a slow system. Other factors can play a role, which means that with a few tweaks your systems performance can be improved.

Read more…

July 9th, 2015

Top 10 most annoying browser toolbars

It usually happens after you download something free. You go back online and your browser suddenly looks unfamiliar. There’s new buttons and weird icons in the place of what you used to have. A strange search page from a company you have never heard has taken the place of your homepage.

How did I get that annoying toolbar?

 

Avast Browser Cleanup removes annoying toolbars

You have inadvertently downloaded a browser toolbar that came bundled with other software.

Free programs, like Adobe Reader, often include add-ons like toolbars or browser extensions. Most of the time, during the installation of the software, an opt-out option will be presented for the add-on. But, lots of people click through without reading, and when they’re finished they discover they have downloaded something they didn’t intend to.

To keep this from happening in the first place, slow down and read the screens. You could save yourself lots of time and headaches if you do.

Read more…

July 3rd, 2015

Avast Hack Chat looks at the hacks on Mr. Robot

Anyone interested in computer security and how it is circumvented, will certainly enjoy the hacking that takes place on USA Network’s hit television show Mr. Robot. The show has been praised not only for its compelling story line but for its “accurate portrayal of cybersecurity and crime.

Every Wednesday night after the show airs, our host Ariana asks a security expert to help us examine the hacks and explor their ramifications in the real world. We record the conversation and share it with you in our video series, Avast Hack Chat. In addition to the discussion about hacking, we also take a weekly trip back in the Time Machine to revisit special people in the history of computing or how computers have been portrayed in popular culture.

Avast Hack Chat: Episode 2 “Ones and ZerOs” Program Notes

In episode 2 of Avast Hack Chat, Seth Rosenblatt, an independent security and privacy journalist, takes us through the hacks on Mr. Robot. He explains hacking a major corporation’s email servers, destroying your hard drive and SIM card to get rid of evidence, and if critical infrastructure like a natural gas plant can be hacked.

Alan Turing, who is referred to the grandfather of computer science, was recently portrayed in the movie The Imitation Game. Ariana and Pedram talk about his legacy and how the advances he made are still in use today. Plus, a computer bug.

Pedram brings us up-to-date on the celebrity photo hacking that took place last year. He shares why he thinks the hacker was an idiot.

This week’s Tips and Tricks tells you the safe way to go about sexting. Not that we want you to do it, but if you are there’s a way to make sure your messages stay secure and get to the intended recipient (who probably is not some guy sitting behind a desk at the NSA.)

Subscribe to the Avast Hack Chat YouTube channel and don’t miss a single weekly episode.

July 1st, 2015

New Avast Hack Chat video series debuts

Remember when you used to make sure you were home at a certain time so you wouldn’t miss your favorite TV show? That was called “appointment television”, and those of you old enough to remember watching The X-Files or Friends when they originally aired know what I’m talking about. But, with the new USA Network show, Mr. Robot, it feels like those days are back again. Sure, I have my DVR set to record, but I will definitely watch it live. Since all my buddies are watching too,  I will be itching to talk about it the next day.

Avast’s new Hack Chat video series brings back that around-the-watercooler discussion. Watch our debut episode here (10:13).

Avast Hack Chat: Episode 1 “Hello Friend” Program Notes

In episode 1 of Avast Hack Chat, host Ariana welcomes special guest, security researcher and software developer, Pedram Amini.

Read more…

July 1st, 2015

Shopping online just got a little more risky

One of the largest e-commerce platforms, Magento, has been plagued by hackers who inject malicious code in order to spy and steal credit card data or any other data a customer submits to the system. More than 100,000+ merchants all over the world use Magento platform, including eBay, Nike Running, Lenovo, and the Ford Accessories Online website.

The company that discovered the flaws, Securi Security, says in their blog, “The sad part is that you won’t know it’s affecting you until it’s too late, in the worst cases it won’t become apparent until they appear on your bank statements.”

Minimize your risk for identity theft when shopping online

Minimize your risk for identity theft when shopping online

Data breaches are nothing new. The Identity Theft Research Center said there were 761 breaches in 2014 affecting more than 83 million accounts. You probably recall the reports of Sony, Target, Home Depot, and Chic Fil A.

We have heard lots about what we as individual consumers can do to protect ourselves: Use strong passwords, update your antivirus protection and keep your software patched, learn to recognize phishing software, and be wary of fake websites asking for our personal information.

But this kind of hack occurs on trusted websites and show no outward signs that there has been a compromise. The hackers have thoroughly covered their tracks, and you won’t know anything is wrong until you check your credit card bill.

So how do you minimize the risk of online shopping?

Read more…