Do I really need security on my computer anymore?
Over the years, web standards have improved and the security of operating systems and browsers have become better. Because of these advances, some people question whether they need security protection at all. But you need to remember that in parallel to positive advances in protection, cybercrooks have improved their skills and become more stealthy and targeted.
Hackers are no longer mischievous kids breaking into government agencies because they can. “These days, cybercrooks have to make business driven-decisions like the rest of us because their resources are limited,” said Ondrek Vlcek, COO of Avast.
Current malware is often disguised as legitimate applications, malicious Android apps sneak by protocols of the huge download sites, and home and business networks are being attacked via weakly protected routers.
“Threats are no longer just targeting devices, but accounts and routers. A recent example is the iCloud hack where cybercrooks stole personal photos of more than 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton,” said Vlcek. “This attack happened via their account and can as well be the result of a router hack. No matter which device you use, all Internet traffic flows through your router so you have to make sure it is secure. You don’t have to be Jennifer Lawrence to be attacked.
Not your father’s antivirus protection
Antivirus protection has come a long way since it scanned individual files. Avast has taken modern virus protection to a high art with real-time updates and heuristic scans that detect new threats it’s never even seen before.
Avast performs so well in protecting against “real-world” threats such as Trojans, worms and viruses as well as web and email threats, that it just received the AV-TEST certification for our home user products.
Avast scored perfectly in the detection of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, and had very little incidence of disruptions caused by false positives. Our consumer products have basically no measurable impact on the performance of the computer while doing things that the average user does on a daily basis: Visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs and copying data.
Where you physically place your router makes a difference – not only to the signal, but to your security.
Think of your router like you would a cordless phone’s base. If you wander too far away from the base station, your call may drop or have static interference. If your wireless devices, like your laptop, are out of your router’s range, then your connection speed can slow down to an annoying crawl or your connection may drop.
Generally, a Wi-Fi router should work well for about 100 ft (30m) in every direction. If your walls are thin or your router is placed in the wrong location, you could be helping a thief steal your bandwidth.
Here are 5 things you can do to optimize your reception and reduce the chance of your neighbor piggy backing on your signal:
- 1. Place your router in a central location. For the optimal coverage, place the router in the middle of the desired coverage area. Think about all the devices you are using along with their location, and place the router at a mid-point and as high as possible so the signal gets dispersed throughout the area.
- 2. Avoid walls, ceilings or shelves. If the signal has to go around corners, or through walls, ceilings or shelves, then it will have a hard time getting to your device. Insulated walls, or ones made of brick or concrete can impede the signal. Even fish tanks (it’s the water that’s the problem) and mirrors can have an effect.
- 3. Place appliances far away from the router. Appliances operate on the same frequency as routers, so avoid placing the router close to cordless phones, microwaves, or TVs.
- 4. Name your Wi-Fi something alarming. Follow the trend to rename your Wi-Fi network to something that will potentially scare would-be thieves from mooching off your Wi-Fi connection. The name “FBI Surveillance Van” was popular a few years ago, or use my favorite c:\virus.exe.
- Better yet – set up a password for your network with WPA2 encryption. Read more about securing your router from 12 ways to boost your router’s security.
- 5. Put up Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper. Decorate your room and block your Wi-Fi signal at the same time. MetaPaper is wallpaper that helps businesses and home users improve the security of their data and protect their Wi-Fi networks from intruders. Re-setting your password is definitely cheaper, but this is a clever innovation especially for business owners concerned about their data security.
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.
To run a scan on your home network, open the Avast user interface and click on Scan>Scan for network threats. If Avast finds a vulnerability it will guide you on how to fix it.
The Avast Virus Chest is a safe place to store potentially harmful files. These files are completely isolated from the rest of the operating system, meaning that they are not accessible for any outside process or software application. Files cannot be run while stored in the Virus Chest.
How to open the Avast Virus Chest
To open the Virus Chest, right click on Avast’s little orange ball icon in the system tray in the bottom right hand corner of your computer. Select Open Avast user interface from the menu. Another way to open the user interface is to double click the desktop icon.
From the main menu, select Scan, then Scan for viruses, and then click the Quarantine (Virus Chest) button at the bottom of the screen to open the Virus Chest window.
If Avast 2015 detects an infected or suspicious file, it will try to repair it at first. Unfortunately, some files cannot be repaired so Avast will try to move the file to the Virus Chest. If the infected file refuses to move to the Virus Chest, it will be automatically deleted from your computer.
How to set up quick access to the Virus Chest
For quick access to the Virus Chest, you can assign it to one of the four shortcut squares in the Avast user interface. To change which function you see, click on the drop-down menu icon in the top right hand corner of the square. There you will find a choice to place the Virus Chest right on the Overview of your Avast product.
Once you have the shortcut on the user interface, then simply click it to open the Virus Chest.
You can perform different actions while in the Virus Chest
You can perform different actions on the file inside the Virus Chest by right clicking. For example, you can
- Restore a file
- Exclude it from scanning
- Report it to the virus lab
- Delete the file
Once you have made the decision on which action to take, you will be asked to confirm your choice. When you have finished, close the Virus Chest to exit.
NOTE: Exercise extreme caution when restoring a file from the Virus Chest as it may still be infected. This is a high security risk action that requires advanced skills and experience handling infected files to avoid further potential infection of your computer.
How to manually move a file to the Virus Chest
If you need to move a file manually into the Virus Chest, right click anywhere on the contents table on the Virus Chest screen and select Add from the menu. A navigation dialog will open so all you need to do is locate the desired file that you want to move. Then click the Open button. The desired file will then appear in the contents table on the Virus Chest screen.
How to restore files from the Avast Virus Chest
When you open the Virus Chest, you will see a list of files contained within it. Right click on the file that you want to restore and the drop-down menu will appear. Select the Extract option, then select the location to save the file and click OK to close your window.
Fake Flash Player updates fool Facebook users.
Facebook users have fallen victim to a recycled scam, and we want to make sure that all of our readers are fore-warned. Cybercrooks use social engineering tactics to fool people into clicking, and when the bait comes from a trusted friend on Facebook, it works very well.
Here’s how the scam works – your friend sends you an interesting video clip; in the latest iteration you are tagged and lots of other friends are also tagged – this makes it seem more trustworthy. The video stops a few seconds in and when you click on it, a message that your Flash Player needs to be updated for it to continue comes up. Since you have probably seen messages from Adobe to update your Flash Player, this does not raise any red flags. Being conscientious about updating your software, as well as curious about what happens next in the video, you click the link. That’s when the fun really begins.
The fake Flash Player is actually the downloader of a Trojan that infects your account. Security researcher Mohammad Faghani, told The Guardian, …” once it infects someone’s account, it re-shares the clip while tagging up to 20 of their friends – a tactic that helps it spread faster than previous Facebook-targeted malware that relied on one-to-one messaging on Facebook.”
How to protect yourself from Facebook video scams
Don’t fall for it. Videos that are supposedly sensational or shocking are also suspect. Be very cautious when clicking.
Does your friend really watch this stuff? If it seems out of character for your friend to share something like that with you, beware. Their account may have been infected by malware, and it’s possible they don’t even know this is being shared. Do them a favor and tell them about it.
Be careful of shortened links. The BBB says that scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t recognize the link destination, don’t click.
Use up-to-date antivirus software like Avast Free Antivirus with full real-time protection.
Report suspicious activity to Facebook. If your account was compromised, make sure to change your password.
Dreaded ransomware, the malware that locks your files and demands payment for the key to unlock them, is now targeting gamers.
In the first report of gamers being targeted by ransomware, more than 2o different games, including World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Call of Duty and Star Craft 2, various EA Sports and Valve games, and Steam gaming software are are on the list. This variant of ransomware looks similar to CryptoLocker according to a report from a researcher at Bromium Labs.
What is CryptoLocker?
CryptoLocker is “ransomware” malware that encrypts files on a victim’s Windows-based PC. This includes pictures, movie and music files, documents, and certain files, like the gamer’s data files, on local or networked storage media.
A ransom, usually paid via Bitcoin or MoneyPak, is demanded as payment to receive a key that unlocks the encrypted files. In previous cases, the victim has 72 hours to pay about a relatively small amount of money, usually in the low hundreds of dollars, but after that the ransom rises to over thousands of dollars. We have seen reports that says the gamers are demanded a ransom of about $1,000 via PayPal My Cash Cards or 1.5 bitcoins worth about $430.
“There’s mostly no way to get the data back without paying the ransom and that’s the reason why bad guys focus on this scheme as it generates huge profit, “ said Jiri Sejtko, Director of Avast Software’s Virus Lab Operations last year when ransomware was making the news. “We can expect some rise in ransomware occurrences,” predicted Sejtko. “Malware authors will probably focus on screen-lockers, file-lockers and even on browser-lockers to gain money from victims.”
That prediction came true, and now ransomware authors are targeting narrower audiences.
How do I get infected with CryptoLocker?
Infection could reach you in various ways. The most common is a phishing attack, but it also comes in email attachments and PDF files. In the new case targeting gamers, the Bromium researcher wrote, “This crypto-ransomware variant has been getting distributed from a compromised web site that was redirecting the visitors to the Angler exploit kit by using a Flash clip.” There is a detailed analysis in the report.
The Avast Mobile Security team demonstrated how easy it is to hack smartphones and tablets at the Mobile World Congress.
The sleekest smartphones, the coolest wearable devices, and the best in mobile security were debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. But it was hacking user’s devices at the Avast booth that had the journalist’s buzzing.
Hacking unsecured Wi-Fi is easy enough for any IT college student
Filip Chytry, a mobile malware researcher that you are familiar with if you visit our blog, set up a wireless hotspot in the Avast booth that allowed visitors to track the online activity of any device that connects.
“The site will let Avast capture passwords, messages and other information people type on the websites, and Chytry can even create dead ringers for Gmail or Facebook sign-in screens – - down to the little green padlock icon that indicates a secure connection…,” reported Bloomberg Business in The Easiest Way to Get Hacked: Use Phone at Phone Show.
The hacking demonstration illustrated what Avast found out during a global Wi-Fi hacking experiment conducted right before MWC.
“The study found that people around the world overwhelmingly prefer to connect to unsecured and unprotected Wi-Fi networks instead of password-protected networks,“ wrote Help Net Security in Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.
Security experts from Avast traveled to 9 cities on 3 continents, and found that Wi-Fi users in Asia are the most prone to attacks. Chicago and London are the most vulnerable in the USA and Europe. Avast’s spokesperson Marina Ziegler told E&T Engineering and Technology magazine, “…in London we found that 54 per cent of routers were weakly encrypted and easily accessible to hackers.”
“That means that if a hacker walks into a pub, he can access the router’s settings and for example reroute the traffic via another malicious server,” said Chytry. “That’s very easy. Every IT college student can do that.”
Avast Anti-Theft is a free app designed for Android smart phones and tablets. It’s main purpose is to help you locate your lost or stolen mobile device, allowing you to track it on a map and control it remotely. You recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the internet by logging in to your My Avast account.
If your phone is lost or stolen, here are some things you can control remotely:
- 1. Locate your device on a map – Whether you misplaced your phone, left on the bus, or a thief grabbed it and ran, the GPS on your phone can be enabled so you can receive continuous GPS location updates.
Avast Anti-Theft user Ducky Boy wrote about his experience finding his phone that he dropped on the highway while riding his motorcycle using the GPS feature. Read about it in On the road with avast! Mobile Security.
- 2. SIM card change notification – Thieves usually change the SIM card after stealing a phone. Anti-Theft recognizes when this happens and notifies you of the new number and geo-location so you can maintain contact with your phone.
Partier and Avast user Andreas lost his phone during a particularly fun party. The next morning he remembered he had installed Avast Anti-Theft. Here’s how he got his phone back, Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft! Read more…
Small and medium-sized businesses face a challenge when it comes to keeping their data secure. Many companies don’t have the budget to hire a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to take care of their IT needs, and often, they think they do not have enough knowledge or time to handle it themselves, therefore the path of least resistance is to not have any security at all. At the very best SMBs use a consumer version of antivirus software.
But these days, neither of those options is a good idea. Having no protection leaves you too vulnerable, and the problem with using a consumer product in a work environment is whoever is managing the network cannot look across all computers at once and implement policy changes or updates.
Do hackers really target small businesses?
The media coverage of big time data breaches like Target, Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot may have many SMB owners thinking that they are not at risk, but even small and medium-sized businesses need to make sure that their data and that of their customers is protected.
Here’s a statistic that should get your attention: One in five small businesses are a victim of cybercrime each year, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. And of those, nearly 60% go out of business within six months after an attack. And if you need more convincing, a 2014 study of internet threats reported that 31% of businesses with fewer than 250 employees were targeted and attacked.
Why do hackers target small businesses?
Hackers like small businesses because many of them don’t have a security expert on staff, a security strategy in place, or even policies limiting the online activity of their employees. In other words, they are vulnerable.
Don’t forget that it was through a small service vendor that hackers gained access to Target’s network. Hackers may get your own customer’s data like personal records and banking credentials and your employee’s log in information, all the while targeting the bigger fish.
While hackers account for most of the data lost, there is also the chance of accidental exposure or intentional theft by an employee.
What can I do to protect my small business?
For mom-and-pop outfits, Avast for Business, a free business-grade security product designed especially for the small and medium-sized business owner, offers tremendous value. The management console is quite similar to our consumer products meaning that the interface is user-friendly but also powerful enough to manage multiple devices.
“Avast for Business is our answer to providing businesses from startup to maturity a tool for the best protection, and there’s no reason for even the smallest of companies not to use it, because it starts at a price everyone can afford, free,” said Luke Walling, GM and VP of SMB at Avast.
Some companies may still opt to pay for a MSP, and in many cases, especially for medical or legal organizations, handing over administration to a third-party may be a good way to go. Either way, our freemium SMB security can be used, and if you use a MSP then the savings can be passed on to you.
Is free good enough for a business?
Many IT professionals have been using free security on their home computers for years. It’s not such a huge leap of faith to consider the benefits of making the switch in their businesses as well.
“I have been using Avast since 2003 at home, with friends, with family. You really come to trust and know a product over the years. It lends itself to business use really well, nothing held back,” said Kyle Barker of Championship Networks, a Charlotte-area MSP.
How do I get Avast for Business?
Visit Avast for Business and sign up for it there.
Avast mobile security experts launched a new app today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Avast SecureMe is the world’s first application that gives iPhone and iPad users a tool to protect their devices and personal data when they connect to Wi-Fi networks. The free app automatically locates Wi-Fi networks and tells users which of them are safe. Since many users connect without knowing the status of the Wi-Fi network – whether it’s protected or not – Avast SecureMe will create a secure connection in order to keep them safe.
“Public Wi-Fi and unsecured routers have become prime targets for hackers, which presents new risks for smartphones and tablets – even iOS devices aren’t immune,” said Jude McColgan, President of Mobile at Avast.
Avast SecureMe will be available in a invitation-only public beta test within the next few weeks. Please sign up here, and the SecureMe team will contact you.
The app notifies you if it finds security issues
Avast SecureMe includes a feature called Wi-Fi Security. (This feature is also available for Android users within the Avast Mobile Security app available on Google Play.) People who use open Wi-Fi in public areas such as airports, hotels, or cafes will find this helpful. This feature’s job is to scan Wi-Fi connections and notify you if it finds any security issues including routers with weak passwords, unsecured wireless networks, and routers with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
“Avast SecureMe and Avast Mobile Security offer users a simple, one-touch solution to find and choose safe networks to protect themselves from the threat of stolen personal data,” said McColgan.
What’s the risk that my personal data will be stolen?
If you use unsecured Wi-Fi when you log in to a banking site, for example, thieves can capture your log in credentials which can lead to identify theft. On unprotected Wi-Fi networks, thieves can also easily see emails, browsing history, and personal data if you do not use a secure or encrypted connection like a virtual private network (VPN). See our global Wi-Fi hacking experiment to see how widespread the threat really is.
The SecureMe app includes a VPN to protect your privacy
Avast SecureMe features a VPN to secure your connections while you conduct online tasks you want to remain private, especially checking emails, doing your online banking, and even visiting your favorite social network sites. Avast SecureMe automatically connects to the secure VPN when it detects that you have connected to a public Wi-Fi making all transferred data invisible to prying eyes. For convenience, you can disable the protection for Wi-Fi connections you trust, like your home network.
Avast SecureMe for iOS will be available soon in the iTunes Store. Before it’s widespread release, we will conduct an invitation-only public beta test. Please sign up here, and the SecureMe team will contact you.
The Wi-Fi Security feature is now also included in the Avast Mobile Security app for Android, available on Google Play.
Avast is pleased to offer the World’s First Free Business-Grade Security to small and medium-sized businesses.
In a move that will make a difference to the security of local businesses across the USA and the UK, Avast launches Avast for Business—a free, easy to use, cloud-managed security offering that protects small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from viruses and cyber attacks.
This is the first free information security product built specifically for businesses with cross-platform protection, meaning that it protects both PCs and Macs. It solves a problem that many businesses have: No IT staff, lean IT budgets, lack of know-how, or even any security at all.
“Since 2001 we’ve delivered great, free security products for home users,” said Vince Steckler, Chief Executive Officer of Avast. “We believe the time is right to provide great security that is not only free, but also simple for SMBs to implement and manage. A small business may not view their customer database or online orders at the same level as data of an enterprise. Avast for Business addresses the problem of those businesses using consumer products and not being adequately protected; it gives those enterprises a business-class solution they can grow with.”
Avast for Business is easy for SMB owners to install, configure and manage advanced security solutions with or without the help of a full-time IT manager. Users are able to effortlessly monitor, manage and protect devices anywhere, anytime from Avast’s cloud-management console.
“Anybody can use the interface,” said Kyle Barker of Championship Networks, an Avast partner in North Carolina, USA. “If you’ve ever seen a simple installment of Avast, you’ve seen the interface, you know the controls. Anybody that ever used the small office console already knows every feature that’s in this product. It’s a simple transition.”
From the easy-to-navigate console, users have the ability to configure robust reporting and alerting to easily stay on top of what is happening inside of their environment. Avast for Business features include:
- Free Essential Antivirus protection (File Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield)
- HTTP and HTTPS Threat Scanning & Integrated Browser Protection
- A Web-based management console that is accessible anywhere, anytime.
- Robust reporting and alerting engine
- Cross-Platform Support including Windows and Mac OSX.
For advanced security requirements, Avast for Business also offers premium services. There are no limits on the number of protected devices, and businesses can activate and deactivate licenses as needed. This allows them to grow comfortably without the concern of overwhelming costs.
“It’s very easy to choose on a month to month basis the number of licenses you want. Any number of licenses can be mixed from free and premium and you can change this on a month to month basis,” said Barker.
Later in 2015, Avast will introduce programs for managed service providers and the reseller channel, to benefit from the power of free. In the spring, Avast will form its first ever partner advisory council in order to bring partners closer to Avast, to discuss features and functions specific to their needs.