Question of the week: Why does Avast and other antivirus companies try to scare us with all this news about viruses and bad apps? It makes me think you are connected to the threats.
Avast and other reputable antivirus companies are not connected to the creation of threats – there are plenty of them without our developers making something up! But thanks for your question. We would like to help you and our other customers understand the nature of cybersecurity in today’s world and assure you that we have the tools to protect your online environment.
A stranger broke into Giri C’s house last September. The thief looked through Giri’s belongings for something of value. He found a MotoE Phone and grabbed it. Mobile phones are an easy target because the thief can just slip in a new SIM card and resell the phone on the black market.
What this thief didn’t know was that Giri had installed Avast Anti-Theft protection. Avast Anti-Theft allows you to set up your desktop account or use a friend’s phone to remotely locate your device, lock it, activate the remote siren, or wipe its data clean.
Internet users with basic security knowledge are aware that they should look for the padlock icon in the address bar or the HTTPS in a web address to indicate that a website is secure. We have gotten used to seeing it on bank sites or shopping carts where we input our credit card information. More and more, regular websites are making the switch from unencrypted HTTP to encrypted HTTPS. Last year, search giant Google sweetened the pot by adding HTTPS to their ranking algorithm. That action encouraged webmasters everywhere to make the switch to HTTPS.
But is HTTPS really more secure than HTTP?
The simple answer is not always. As more and more online services are moving to HTTPS, attacks are increasing. An encrypted connection ensures that the connection cannot be modified by anyone else, but it does not guarantee that the actual content being downloaded is safe. Just as with plain HTTP, if a legitimate website is hacked, malware scripts and binaries can be placed into the HTTPS page that appears to be safe.
That’s why it is imperative for security software to check this attack vector. To address this, Avast’s trusted Web Shield technology scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.
How Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature works (the short version)
Avast is able to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in our Web-content filtering component. To detect malware and threats on HTTPS sites, Avast must remove the SSL certificate and add its self-generated certificate. Our certificates are digitally signed by Avast’s trusted root authority and added into the root certificate store in Windows and in major browsers to protect against threats coming over HTTPS; traffic that otherwise could not be detected.
Avast whitelists websites if we learn that they don’t accept our certificate. Users can also whitelist sites manually, so that the HTTPS scanning does not slow access to the site.
This video gives you an overview, but if any of this didn‘t make much sense to you, read below for a more detailed explanation. You can also explore the FAQ about HTTPS scanning in Web Shield.
What is HTTP and why is it being changed?
HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is the network protocol used to deliver virtually all files and other data on the World Wide Web. When you visit a website you may see the HTTP:// prefix in the address. This means your browser is now connected to the server using HTTP. The problem with HTTP is that it is not a secure way to establish a connection, opening a door to cybercrooks who want to eavesdrop on your activities.
ASUS, the third largest consumer notebook vendor in the world, has selected Avast Mobile Security to be pre-loaded on its new line of Android powered tablets.
These tablets, called ZenPad, will be debuted at the upcoming Computex in Taiwan this June. The much anticipated 7-inch ZenPad 7 will give customers 12 months of Avast Mobile Security and allow free access to premium versions of Avast Backup and Avast Anti-theft.
During this beautiful spring in “The Queen City” aka Charlotte, North Carolina, new Avast Software offices have opened their doors bringing 60 IT, marketing, business development, and technical support jobs to the area.
The flagship product launching out of the Charlotte office is Avast for Business, the new free, easy-to-use, cloud-managed security offering designed with small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and small government in mind. Luke Walling, a long time Charlotte resident, is the general manager and vice president of Avast for Business.
“We’re thrilled to open doors in Charlotte,” said Walling. “With state-of-the-art facilities in North Carolina coupled with regional offices across the globe, Avast is in prime position to ensure our customers receive top-notch security solutions for their PCs, Macs and servers. As small business owners realize the essential need for data protection in today’s digital world, we’re happy to provide a free product that’s both reliable and secure. Charlotte has been home to me for many years and I’m pleased to report such a strong start.”
We love our fans and followers on Twitter because they frequently alert us to great resources. It happened today when we received a tweet from @LoveNerds4Ever letting us know that Avast Antivirus was mentioned on a Sacramento (California) News10 video segment. Thanks, Shawna!
— Shawna M. Bell (@LoveNerds4Ever) May 14, 2015
The guest on this video segment is Ryan Eldridge, co-founder of Nerds on Call, a computer repair Business in Sacramento. He spoke to reporter Keba Arnold about technology mistakes that people typically make. These simple, but oh, so important points, are ones that we continually try to make, and Ryan puts it all together in one good video.
The security recommendations that Ryan makes:
- Run updates on your computer and mobile phone. Program updates and security patches are very important to keep your device up to date and running optimally.
- Download apps and programs from places you know and trust. On your mobile phone this would be the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store. For your computer, he says it’s a little bit harder, but suggest that you visit download.com, CNET’s well-known download site where you can read user reviews and see the reputation of the app before you download.
- Ryan reminds computer users that when they get a new device antivirus software may be pre-installed, but it is a trial for a limited time. After it expires, you need to get protected with a quality antivirus product. Ryan recommends Avast Free Antivirus for your computer, your Mac, and your mobile phone.
- Ms. Arnold confesses that she has one email address that acts as a catch-all for everything. Ryan says this is a no-no because if a hacker breaks into that email address, then he has access to everything. Ryan suggests that you have separate email addresses for friends and family, work, one for shopping, and one for banking.
- Passwords, admittedly are a pain in the you-know-what. Ryan suggests using an algorithm, or a kind of personal code, to construct your own passwords. For example, you can use a line from your favorite song, say Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Use the first letter of each word, use letters from the website name, and end with a series of numbers. Each password will be unique and known only to you.
And Ryan, we have a tip for you! Small businesses like yours need security protection too, and consumer antivirus like Avast Free Antivirus, doesn’t do the trick when you need to manage multiple devices, platforms, and people in remote locations. Adding to our collection of free products is the new Avast for Business. Avast for Business is free to use for as long as you want and for an unlimited number of admins and devices.
At the end of this month, Avast will end product enhancement support for older consumer versions of Avast Antivirus – we will not be ending security support for these products. Customers will continue to receive threat updates and will continue to be fully protected. The versions are 8.0.1497 and lower of the following products: Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Pro Antivirus, Avast Internet Security, and Avast Premier.
People using older versions will continue to receive virus definition updates and be protected. However, we recommend everyone to upgrade to the new version to benefit from better detection rates and new features.
A good antivirus program is a necessity to protect your Windows PC from malware attacks, to keep your computer running smoothly, and to protect your online identity and personal data. Over the past 3 years, Avast engineers have improved our database of known virus definitions, the mechanism in which zero- day and widespread malware are detected, and the frequency of streaming updates sent to our customers. Avast 2015, with its unique Home Network Security feature which scans your home network for potential risks, is our best performing security product yet.
After May 31st, 2015, Avast will no longer provide patches or technical support for versions 8.0.1497 and lower. Please update to the latest version so you can benefit from the enhanced features and higher detection rates that protect your computer from malicious attacks. This update is also recommended because the latest version is compatible with Windows 10.
If you are running an older version of Avast, you can easily move to the latest version of Avast 2015.
How to check for the latest version and do a program update
If you need to update later, here’s a quick way to do it.
- Right click on the orange Avast ball icon in the system tray.
- Select Update from the menu and then click Program.
The update screen in the Avast user interface shows you the overall progress of the program update. When it’s done you will be asked to restart your computer. Click Yes to reboot immediately. Once the computer is restarted, information about the update may appear. If you are using a paid subscription, then your protection will be valid for the remaining period of your subscription.
Why to upgrade
- Better detection rates
- Easier technical support
- We fixed bugs and problems that still might exist on your current version
- Receive further program updates to ensure best protection
If you prefer an older version of Avast and require technical support, you will still receive virus definition updates and be protected, but our support team will ask you to update the product first before we can assist you.
Small business owners embrace the idea of employees supplying their own computers, smartphones, and tablets in the workplace. But the savings and convenience can go down the drain if the employee falls prey to a phishing scam and downloads malware or loses their device. Protecting mobile devices has become increasingly more important as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) grows in popularity.
Technical security measures to protect information are of obvious importance. However, many security incidents relate to the theft or loss of equipment.
We can write multiple blog posts about BYOD policies and educating your employees about the latest threats and tricks that cybercrooks play (spearphishing, for example), which is all extremely important, but if you simply lose your device, then all bets are off anyway. You can avoid headaches in the case of misplaced or stolen devices by having a way to remotely locate the missing device and wiping the data away if it ends up in the wrong hands.
Avast Anti-Theft allows users to log on to their desktop account or use a friend’s phone to remotely locate their device, lock it, activate the remote siren, or wipe its data clean.
Business owners also need to consider what to do about company data on an employee’s personal device when they are terminated or leave the company. Some companies have resorted to wiping personal devices clean of all data, but that includes contacts, family photos, apps and music, which can lead to unpleasant lawsuits or complaints from former employees. Mobile device management systems (MDMs) are available, but could be overkill for very small businesses.
If you only have a few employees, and do not require a full-blown MDM, then Install Avast Anti-Theft for free from the Google Play store to protect your own devices and those of your employees.
The Avast bi weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.
Most everyone knows their PC needs antivirus protection, but they don’t think about their smartphone. These days smartphones are just about as powerful and have as much or more personal information as our desktop PC at home. We answer the question do Android devices really need protection?
The answer is a resounding YES. The Avast Virus Lab gives us an example from a trusted download source, Google Play: A porn clicker app slipped into Google Play imitating the popular Dubsmash app. If we cannot completely rely on trusted app stores to weed out nasty apps, then it’s time to add an extra layer of security.
Once you decide that you do want to protect your Android device, you can be confident in Avast Mobile Security, Avast’s free security app available on Google Play. A survey by AV -Comparatives said that Avast was the #1 choice for mobile security in the entire world. No need to wait any longer to protect your smartphone or tablet.
One of the challenges with using a smartphone for so many activities, is that the battery gives out before we do. Our new free app Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi based smart profiles that can increase battery life by an average of 7 hours.
Avast Battery Saver has only been available for a month or so but already 200,000 customers have downloaded it from the Google Play Store. For Earth Day we highlighted battery saver users for their positive impact on the environment. Who knew that Avast Battery Saver would be so green? A cool infographic shows just how much they saved - not only from their own battery - but in energy costs too. Now Earth Day can be everyday!
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) run the risk of data breaches just like there Enterprise cousins. Luke Walling, the General Manager of Avast for Business, explains that the biggest threat to SMBs is not actually hackers sitting somewhere far away. The biggest threat to your SMB could be sitting in your office!
Speaking of Avast for Business, our new disruptive free security offering for SMBs has 75,000 new customers in just 2 months. If you have a start-up, a small business, if you work in a school or non-profit organization, then it’s time to stop paying for security protection.
Our researchers are constantly surprised by the creativity of malware authors. Recently, they found a new way cybercrooks trick people in giving up their banking information. It’s a crafty combination of spam email, social engineering, and a macro code embedded in an innocent looking Word document.
Most people have security protection on their computers. That’s great when there are things like the banking malware we wrote about. With all that great protection why is it that they don’t trust the warnings? The Avast Virus Lab explored why some people would rather be right than believe a malware warning.
The most popular mobile security product in the world is Avast Mobile Security.
In their annual IT Security Survey, AV – Comparatives asked, Which mobile anti-malware security solution do you primarily use on your smartphone?
Avast took 1st or 2nd place on four continents: Europe, North America, Asia, and South/Central America.
How great is the risk of infection on an Android smartphone?
The risk of your Android smartphone becoming infected depends on several factors. In the US and Europe most people use official stores such as Google Play for installing apps. The risk is much lower than in many Asian countries, especially China, where app stores are not subject to stricter controls. Because of these unofficial app stores, along with numerous rooted phones, the chance of installing a dangerous app is highly increased.
In Asia, the smartphone is often used as an alternative to the PC. People frequently use it for online banking which make them vulnerable to Zeus Trojan malware. Zeus is commonly delivered via a link or an attachment in a phishing message or through a text message via WhatsApp, SMS, or Twitter. This threat will similarly increase in Europe and the US as banking apps get more popular.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
The Avast Virus Lab has more than one million samples of mobile malware in its database, and reports that 2,850 new mobile threats are created every day by hackers. The threat situation can change quickly and dramatically so it is best to use preventative protection and install security software on your smartphone. At this point though, protecting important data in the event that your phone is lost or stolen is more critical than malware protection.
The AV-Comparatives survey says that Android users in North America protect their phones more than anywhere else in the world with 31 percent of respondents reporting they have protection. South America, Asia, and Europe are much lower at 17 percent.
Protect your Android smartphone and tablet with Avast Mobile Security and Avast Anti-Theft: Free from the Google Play store.