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June 23rd, 2015

Vacation scams can ruin your holiday

Do you dream of lounging with an umbrella drink on a sunny beach, hiking by a pristine lake in the cool mountains, or leisurely strolling through a world class museum? As you begin to make summer vacation plans, much of it planned and reserved via the Internet, here are a few scams to be aware of:

Fake vacation rentals

vacation scamsPrivate vacation rentals are growing in popularity and it’s easy to find one these days through portals like Airbnb, HomeAway, and Craigslist. A typical scam starts with attractive pictures of a property in a desired location. The phony landlord, who is really a scam artist, requires an up-front deposit on the rental that is typically sent by wire transfer. When the happy family arrives at the destination, it either doesn’t exist, it’s not at all like it was described, or it is not available for rental. It may even belong to someone else, who lives there and has no knowledge of the transaction.

How to protect yourself from vacation rental scams

Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures. Photoshop is amazing and an artist can do all kinds of tricks with it. Ask the property owner to send you additional photos. You can even look it up on Google’s Street View to make sure the property and address actually exists.

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June 11th, 2015

How to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi hotspots

Many of the Wi-Fi hotspots you use in your hometown and when you travel have major security flaws making it easy for hackers to see your browsing activity, searches, passwords, videos, emails, and other personal information. It’s a public Wi-Fi connection, meaning that you are sharing the network with lots of strangers. Those strangers can easily watch what you’re doing or steal a username and password to one of your accounts while you sip your latte.

An easy and affordable way to maintain your security whenever you use free Wi-Fi is to use a virtual private network (VPN). It sounds techie, but Avast has made it simple.

A VPN service, like our SecureLine VPN, routes all the data you’re sending and receiving through a private, secure network, even though you’re on a public one. That way, SecureLine makes you 100% anonymous while protecting your activity.

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June 8th, 2015

Teenagers charged with cybercrimes

Forget about shoplifting or painting graffiti on the wall at midnight. Opportunistic teens are turning to cybercrime to get their kicks these days.

teenage hacker

Teenage hackers range from pranksters to international kingpins.

A 14-year old boy in Florida was recently arrested and charged with a felony offense for unauthorized access against a computer system. The 8th grader said he was playing a prank on his teacher when he used the teacher’s administrative password to log onto a school computer and changed its desktop background to an image of two men kissing. The password was the teacher’s last name, and the prankster said he figured it out by watching the teacher type it in.

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June 5th, 2015

TGIF: Wrap-up May 6 – June 5

We have had a busy month with multiple announcements important to Avast customers and company-watchers. Here’s the quick rundown in case you missed it.

Avast SecureMe protects Apple watch

Avast SecureMe will launch in the next month or so to protect the new Apple Watch, as well as iPhones and iPads, when connected to unsecured Wi-Fi. That’s sure to make Apple gadget freaks happy. Read Avast SecureMe Protects Apple Watch Wi-Fi Users.

Image via TechRadar

Image via TechRadar

Windows 10 is scheduled to launch in July, and Avast is ready. Avast version V2015 R2 and newer are already compatible with Windows 10. Read Latest versions of Avast compatible with Windows 10.

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June 3rd, 2015

Sixty serious security flaws found in home routers

Scan your router with Avast's Home Network Security scanner.

Scan your router with Avast’s Home Network Security scanner.

Your router is one of the weakest links in your security, and researchers have proven once more that your home router puts you at risk.

Sixty security flaws have been identified in 22 router models that are distributed around the world, mostly by ISPs to their customers. These flaws could allow hackers to break into the device, change the password, and install and execute malicious scripts that change DNS servers to those the attacker wants. They do this so they can send your traffic through servers they control and direct you unwittingly to malicious sites or load malicious code on your machine when you visit a legitimate site.

Other flaws include allowing the hackers to read and write information on USB storage devices attached to the affected routers and reboot the devices.

The research report describes how the attackers can get in – through a backdoor with a universal password that is used by the ISP’s technical support staff to help troubleshoot for their customers over the phone. This second default administrator access is hidden from the router owner.

Which routers did the researchers test?

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June 2nd, 2015

Do antivirus companies create viruses to sell more software?

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 protects against hackers

Antivirus companies do not create the viruses- there are enough hackers doing it already!

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.

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May 26th, 2015

Where is my phone? Avast Anti-Theft knows.

Giri got his stolen phone back because of Avast Anti-Theft

Giri got his stolen phone back because of Avast Anti-Theft

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.

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May 25th, 2015

Explaining Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature

Avast scans HTTPS

Avast Web Shield scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.

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.

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May 20th, 2015

New ASUS ZenPad to come with Avast Mobile Security

ASUS partners with Avast

ASUS partners with Avast

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.

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May 18th, 2015

The Tar Heel State welcomes Avast Software

Avast announces the opening of our new Charlotte, N.C. office.

Avast announces the opening of our new Charlotte, N.C. office.

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.”

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