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March 17th, 2015

Ransomware holds eSports players hostage

Dreaded ransomware, the malware that locks your files and demands payment for the key to unlock them, is now targeting gamers.

New ransomware targets 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.

Read more…

March 11th, 2015

Avast hacks devices at Mobile World Congress

MWC15 Avast logoThe 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.

Avast at MWC15

Most people connect to a completely unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot without a second thought.

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.”

 

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March 10th, 2015

5 ways to thwart the thief who stole your Android

Avast Anti-Theft is free

Remote recovery options help you keep control of your device, even when it’s lost.

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. 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.

  1. 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…

March 6th, 2015

Why you need to protect your small business from hackers

Avast Free Antivirus protects small and medium sized businesses for free.

IT pros have used Avast Free Antivirus at home for years. It’s not a huge leap to use free Avast for Business at their place of business.

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.

Avast for BusinessWhat 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.

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March 2nd, 2015

New Avast SecureMe app protects iOS and Android users from Wi-Fi Hacking

Avast mobile security experts launched a new app today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Avast booth at MWC15

Avast launches SecureMe app for iOS and Android at Mobile World Congress 2015

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.

Beta Testing

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.

February 23rd, 2015

Business owners rejoice – you can now get business-grade security for free from Avast

Avast is pleased to offer the World’s First Free Business-Grade Security to small and medium-sized businesses.

Avast for Business protects SMBs for free

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.

February 20th, 2015

Americans willingly risk privacy and identity on open Wi-Fi

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.”

WiFi survey blog

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.

Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Android phones and tablets on Google Play and for iOS devices in the Apple App Store. We also have VPN available for Windows PCs.

February 12th, 2015

How to choose the best mobile security protection

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.

Avast Mobile Security gives Android users 100% protection against malicious apps.

Avast Mobile Security gives Android users 100% protection against malicious apps.

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.

Install Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus from the Google Play store.

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.

Install Avast Anti-theft from the Google Play store.

February 4th, 2015

Good guys finish first: Avast is the leading security company worldwide

Downloading

“Installing an antivirus product is the first, not last, step to having a safe and secure computer.”

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/

Avast leads in the antivirus vendor market with a 21.4% share

Avast leads in the antivirus vendor market with a 21.4% share

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February 2nd, 2015

Come meet Avast at Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress 2014

Avast will participate in the 2015 Mobile World Congress

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.

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