Is the convenience of open Wi-Fi worth the risk of identity theft? Most Americans think so.
In a recent survey, we found that only 6% of Americans protect their data by using a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi with their smartphone or tablet. That leaves a whopping 94% unprotected. Why is this?
Do people not know the risks of using unsecured public Wi-Fi?
Is avoiding data overages or the convenience of no password more important than the data on their devices?
Are they not aware that there is protection available?
Are they scared they won’t understand how to use VPN because of the technical sounding name?
The truth about open, public Wi-Fi
The truth is that using unprotected Wi-Fi networks could end up costing you your privacy and identity when you use them without protection like Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. This is because unsecured networks, those are the ones that do not require registration or a password, give cybercrooks easy access to sensitive personal information.
“As mobile cloud storage becomes more popular and the quest for free Wi-Fi continues to grow, open networks that require no passwords place unprotected consumers at great risk of compromising sensitive personal data,” said Jude McColgan, president of mobile at Avast.
“The majority of Americans don’t realize that all the personal information on their mobile devices becomes defenseless over public Wi-Fi if used without protection. These networks create an easy entry point for hackers to attack millions of American consumers on a daily basis.”
Avast can protect you and it’s not hard or expensive
“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, Chief Operating Officer at Avast. “Avast SecureLine VPN allows users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”
Avast SecureLine VPN protects your Internet connections with military-grade encryption and hides your IP address. If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, what it means is that essentially our VPN protection makes your device invisible to cybercriminals. In addition to that, using the VPN hides your browsing history, so no one can monitor your behavior online. We assure you, it’s as easy as can be to use.
There are two noteworthy risks associated with owning a smartphone or a tablet. The first one is malware and the second is loss. You need to protect yourself against both, and these days there are plenty of choices for each. Some are free security apps and some are paid-for solutions.
Protect your smartphone or tablet with mobile antivirus software
Last year more than 1 billion Android devices were shipped out to customers around the world. With Android winning the majority of the smartphone market, it offers a tempting target to malware authors. I have read in some publications that the average users need not worry about being infected with a virus on their phone or tablet, but with 2,850 new mobile threats being created every day by hackers the odds are getting worse.
Even if you think your chances are low, we suggest that you go ahead and install a good mobile antivirus software. The great thing about Avast Mobile Security is that it’s free, so your investment is minimal – just a few minutes of setup and you’re done.
Avast Mobile Security includes antivirus protection which scans your apps to see what they are doing, and a Web shield that scans URLs for malware or phishing. Malicious apps allow malware to enter your phone, so it’s good to have Avast on your side to detect when a bad one slips by on Google Play or another app store.
To compare the choices of mobile antivirus software, you can look at the January 2015 “Mobile Security Test” conducted by the independent labs at AV-TEST. They looked at 31 popular Android security apps. Avast Mobile Security tops the list because it detected 100% of malicious apps without any impact on the battery life or slowing down of the device.
Protect your smartphone or tablet against loss or theft
Hackers aren’t the only risk – theft or loss of your device is more probable. In a famous stat from 2 years ago, Norton figured that 113 phones were lost or stolen every minute at the tune of $7 million a day! With all the personal and maybe even company data you have stored, losing your phone could be devastating.
You can protect your device and the data on it by following some easy tips and installing Avast Anti-theft. Avast Anti-theft is an app that you can download with Avast Mobile Security for free. The anti-theft feature is hidden from thieves and allows you to remotely control your smartphone using SMS or via your MyAvast account. You can back up personal data and track your phone or sound an alarm if it’s lost or stolen.
Avast is the leader in the cyber security arms race.
There are others fighting the fight, but a 21.4% share makes Avast the leader in the antivirus vendor market as reported in OPSWAT’s quarterly market share report.
That’s good news for individuals and business owners concerned about protecting themselves from vulnerable networks, swiped passwords, pilfered finanical data, erased online identities, and stolen Social Security or national ID numbers. Opinions about the future of cyber-attacks range from doom and gloom to optimism about the steady progress in security, but the fact remains that in today’s world, we have to work around the Internet’s vulnerable design and motivated hackers challenging businesses and home users.
“Installing an antivirus product is the first, not last, step to having a safe and secure computer,” said OPSWAT’s Gears product manager, Adam Winn. “Avast’s popular antivirus and security products are helping to improve security for all. Creating accessible antivirus products for home users contributes to an overall improved security status for everyone, even businesses.”
The OPSWAT report contains the latest figures on antivirus market share and usage, as well as analysis of compromised devices. A disturbing finding from the report stated,
More than 90% of Windows PCs have not run an antivirus full system scan in the last 7 days. Of these, 15% hadn’t even had their antivirus definitions updated within the previous three days which might explain why over3% were found to be seriously infected.
“It’s reasonable to assume in an organization with 400 PCs, a full dozen are compromised,” said Winn as an illustration of the seriousness. “The interconnected state of computing has blurred the lines between home and business, especially with BYOD, remote working, and SaaS. For this reason, it’s in everyone’s best interest that traditional antivirus protection continues to be in place to deter casual and commodity attacks.”
A lack of regular updates and full system scanning is especially problematic. Organizations without robust endpoint management and solutions in place to identify and remediate these risks are giving insecure devices access to their networks and could find themselves in violation of data security regulations.
The data for the report was collected by OPSWAT GEARS, a free device security and management tool. You can add your computer to the sample if you don’t mind them collecting information regarding the applications installed on your computer. Check it out here, https://www.opswatgears.com/
The Avast Mobile Security Team will be introducing its latest suite of apps and solutions at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, March 2 – 5.
The team, including Jude McColgan, President of Mobile, and Daniel Cheng, Head of Worldwide Mobile Sales and Marketing, will be participating in this must-attend conference for mobile industry leaders, visionaries, and innovators.
The Avast team are leaders in securing the mobile ecosystem as it expands into the retail, banking, and health services industries. Along with interesting discussions about the latest security threats and vulnerabilities for Android and iOS devices and how users can protect themselves from those threats, our team will show users how they can free their phone from unnecessary files to gain valuable storage space on their mobile devices.
New threats and trends
Mr. McColgan and Mr. Cheng will introduce a solution that addresses Wi-Fi security issues. Many people don’t know that connecting to Wi-Fi networks on-the-go at cafes, airports, or hotels make them vulnerable to hackers. Without the protection of a virtual private network (VPN), hackers can gain access to people’s emails, browsing history, and personal data. Now, routers are increasingly becoming targets for hackers, harboring new risks for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Avast will be revealing new research data, then introducing a solution for this threat at Mobile World Congress.
Storage on your smartphone and tablet can be a challenge especially when social media, video, music streaming, and news reader apps pile up data that eats up valuable storage space. Avast will showcase a new solution that addresses this problem.
If you are attending Mobile World Congress, please stop by and visit the Avast team at stand 5K29 in Hall 5.
For the rest of us not lucky enough to travel to Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress, visit the Avast blog and Facebook page where we will keep you updated on all the announcements and happenings. Take a look at some of the fun from last year’s event.
It’s European #DataProtection day! Every day we visit websites and willingly hand over our name, address, and credit card number. Have you ever thought about what happens to that data or what your rights are?
Members of the European Union (EU) enjoy a high standard of protection of their personal data. The Digital Agenda for Europe lays it all out for you on their website. Here’s a summary:
The burden to protect you is on organizations
The EU Data Protection Directive ensures that personal data can only be gathered under strict conditions and for legitimate purposes. Organizations that collect and manage your personal information must also protect it from misuse and respect certain rights. One of the objectives is that organizations notify their customers, in plain language, what information is collected and how it is used as well as get permission before using any personal information.
One of the stumbling blocks has been the so-called one-stop-shop for businesses and citizens in each member state in which authorities will handle citizens’ complaints about any breach of the rules. There are just as many ideas on how to run it as there are EU member states.
You must be notified of cookies and data breaches
The Directive on Privacy and Electronic communications (ePrivacy Directive) ensures that all communications over public networks maintain a high level of privacy. For example, this directive requires website owners marketing online to EU citizens to obtain consent from users, via some kind of opt-in, before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information. (See below for information on managing your cookies.)
If your data is stolen, the ePrivacy Directive states that you should be notified. That’s good because data theft can result in identity theft or fraud, damage to your reputation, loss of control over your personal data or a loss of confidentiality.
However, this fall, the rules changed slightly and now businesses don’t have to notify consumers that their personal data has been lost or stolen if the data has been encrypted. The ministers figure that the business has “appropriate technological protection measures” to protect the data that has been lost or stolen from being accessed by people not authorized to see it.
Viewing and managing your cookies
For those of you not familiar with the term, cookies are small files stored in your browser that contain information about your visit to a web page. They help tailor your online shopping experiences by doing things such as recording items in your shopping cart, they also recommend products based on your interests, allow auto-log in and compile browsing histories.
In most modern browsers, you can control cookie settings. The options include viewing stored cookies, controlling which sites you accept cookies from, and setting how long they may be stored and used.
- 1. Open the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the Chrome browser, select Settings.
- 2. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.
- 3. In the Privacy section, open the button that says Content settings.
- 4. Under Cookies, you check or uncheck the options to manage the settings.
- 5. To see individual cookies, click All cookies and site data.
- 6. To remove cookies, hover the mouse over the entry. Click the X to delete.
- 7. To delete all cookies, click Remove all.
For instructions to clear cookies in Firefox, please visit Mozilla’s support page.
For instructions on clearing and managing cookies in Internet Explorer, please search Microsoft help for your version of IE. Here’s general information.
Privacy plays a growing part in customer buying decisions. With every data breach, trust is eroded further.
Privacy and security are intertwined when it comes to our individual information. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of their personal data, so that means that businesses have to step up and do a better job of securing that data. Identity theft is the #1 fear of consumers, but for your business the risk is loss of trust and brand damage.
Since trust is the core of any transaction it’s important to know how privacy factors into your customer’s buying decisions. Research shows that almost 40% of consumers made buying decisions based upon privacy. When looking at who these people are, it was found that these individuals are aged 46-65 and have the highest incomes. But don’t rely on the business of the younger generation to supplant that once trust is lost; 27% of millenials abandoned an online purchase in the past month due to privacy or security concerns.
To mark Data Privacy Day on January 28, the following Privacy is Good for Business tips were created by privacy experts in civil-society, non-profit, government and industry and aspire to help business address the public’s growing privacy concerns:
- If you collect it, protect it. Follow reasonable security measures to keep individuals’ personal information safe from inappropriate and unauthorized access.
- Be open and honest about how you collect, use and share consumers’ personal information. Think about how the consumer may expect their data to be used.
- Build trust by doing what you say you will do. Communicate clearly and concisely to the public about what privacy means to your organization and the steps you take to achieve and maintain privacy.
- Create a culture of privacy in your organization. Explain to and educate employees about the importance and impact of protecting consumer and employee information as well as the role they play in keeping it safe.
- Don’t count on your privacy notice as your only tool to educate consumers about your data practices.
- Conduct due diligence and maintain oversight of partners and vendors. You are also responsible for how they collect and use personal information.
Make Avast quiet when you are playing games or giving presentations.
We know you love Avast, but when you are giving a presentation to the big boss, or concentrating on playing an important game, it may not be the best time for a popup that says your computer is running slowly to appear. That’s why we made it easy for you to silence Avast.
Activate the Silent/gaming mode when don’t want to be interrupted. This will cause Avast to run in silent mode when a full-screen application is running. This means your games or other full-screen applications will not be interrupted with annoying popups or other messages.
Turn this mode on quickly by clicking on the orange Avast icon located in your computer’s system tray. Right-click on the Avast icon and a short menu will appear. Click on Silent/gaming mode to turn it on.
You can also access this option within the main user interface. Go to Settings>General and check the box for Silent/gaming mode. This will disable messages, popups, and alerts in Avast.
Turn off sounds
Silence notifications: Open the Avast user interface. Click Settings>General>Sounds and uncheck the Enable Avast sounds box. You can also uncheck the Voiceovers within the Sounds settings.
Choose the notifications you want to silence: Avast has six “events” that have notifications associated with them.. These events are Threat detected, Suspicious item detected (we suggest you keep these two on), Potentially unwanted program (PUP) detected, Scan complete, Automatic update, and Firewall query. You have the option to uncheck these boxes as well.
Turn off popups
Occasionally, we offer our users great products like GrimeFighter but we understand if you don’t need to see the notifications anymore. Our customers who have a paid-for version of Avast, have an option for you to turn those off completely. Read more…
Only four and half minutes of your time, and you’ll know the highlights of Avast 2015.
Avast 2015 is very easy to use, and many people just install it and let it do its job silently in the background. We designed it that way, but for those of you who want to know more about the features of Avast, we created a video guide to help you get the most out of your security protection.
The core of Avast Antivirus is real-time active protection comprised of the Web, Mail, and File System Shields. These can be accessed from the user interface. Open Settings and go to Active protection.
Avast 2015 includes our new, unique Home Network Security (HSN) which scans for home router security problems. Avast is the only security company to offer a tool to help you secure this neglected area.
To save you time, Avast 2015 has an efficient 4-in-1 Smart Scan which combines scans for malware and HSN’s router vulnerabilities, missing software updates and patches with Software Updater, and performance issues with GrimeFighter. GrimeFighter requires a separate license to fully optimize your PC.
That’s good advice for hosting a Super Bowl party, going to a job interview, or if you lose your phone.
Not being prepared could prove disastrous in all three of those examples, but most people would agree that losing their phone with all the contacts, text messages, photos, and other irreplaceable data is worse than forgetting the Doritos or not answering an interview question well.
If you happen to lose your Android smart phone or tablet, or if someone steals it from you, do not despair. Our clever, FREE app, Avast Anti-theft, will help you find your phone and even, catch the thief.
What is Avast Anti-Theft?
Avast Anti-Theft is a free standalone application 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. Since Anti-Theft is a separate application from Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus, it is completely invisible when it is running so that thieves don’t even know it’s there.
This infographic explains what you can do with your phone if you discover that it’s missing.
Locate your device on a map
Remotely locate your phone via GPS, Wi-Fi, or mobile network – for maximum accuracy.
Remotely lock your phone
Remotely lock your phone to prevent access to your personal data and settings.
Activate a siren remotely
Activate a loud, customizable siren, which reverts to maximum volume if thieves try to silence it.
If you spring for the paid version of Avast Anti-Theft, you get some additional, powerful features.
Take a photo of a would-be thief
You can set your device to lock access and take a picture of the person attempting to unlock it after three failed tries.
Remote data retrieval from your device
Retrieve call logs, SMS messages, and other personal data from your phone.
Avast Anti-Theft is available on Google Play, where it can be downloaded for free.
Your home router could be part of a network used to knock sites like Sony PlayStation network offline.
During Christmas we reported that a hacker group calling themselves the Lizard Squad, took responsibility for ruining the day for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox users by taking the gaming networks offline. This and previous attacks, which included a bomb threat directed at an American Airlines flight with Sony Entertainment president John Smedley on board, have been revealed to be a marketing campaign to advertise a new product available for rent to anyone who wants to cause a Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack to the target of their choice.
I’m not a hacker. Why should I care?
You may not be a hacker, but the power for this service could be coming from your home office! Security blogger, Brian Krebs, whose own site was attacked, found out that the network of infected devices that powers the Product-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (that’s because Lizard Squad gleefully thanked Brian for the publicity on their Twitter account) is made up mostly of compromised home routers. On that same Twitter account, Lizard Squad said that they are using 250-500k infected routers.
These are the devices in everyone’s home that we warned you about in our blog, Your home network is at risk of cybersecurity attacks. Most people neglect the security of these devices by using the default user name and password that comes from the manufacturer out-of-the-box.
Our research determined that nearly 80% of all home routers in use today are thinly protected by common, easily hacked passwords, making routers an easy entry point to the home network for hackers,” said Avast Software’s CEO, Vincent Steckler.
Lizard Squad has just proven that point.
Today’s router security situation is very reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s, with lax attitudes towards security combined with new vulnerabilities being discovered every day creating an easily exploitable environment, “ Steckler said. “The main difference is people have much more personal information stored on their devices today than they did back then. Consumers need strong yet simple-to-use tools that can prevent attacks before they happen.”
How to protect your home router
Start by scanning you home network with Avast’s Home Network Security Solution.
Open the Avast user interface, click Scan from the menu on the left, then choose Scan for network threats. Avast will take a look at your router and report back any issues. In most cases, if there is an issue to be addressed, then it will direct you to your router manufacturer’s website.
The Home Network Security Solution is available in free and paid versions of Avast 2015. Get it at www.avast.com.
For more steps you can take to protect your home router, please see our blog post, 12 ways to boost your router’s security.