Believe it or not, there’s more to life than what’s happening online! In its beginnings, technology was intended to make our lives simpler and more convenient. When technology becomes an addiction, however, it can become dangerous to our mental and physical health, not to mention our personal lives.
Some days ago we wrote about scams targeting senior citizens. This group is at risk because generally speaking, they have less computer education than younger people who have grown up in the digital world. I recommended the reading to my mother, thinking she will benefit from it. She thanked me, but said that there were “some things” she did not understand.
In the Avast blog we do our best to write in simple terms. However, we know much more about security and, quite frequently, explains things in technical writing. So, I’ve take some time to write what will be useful for your mother (and mine). What about recommending her to read this?
Computer and mobile security essentials for senior citizens
With millions of applications waiting to be installed in our gadgets, you not only need to be concerned about quality, but you also need to take the proper measures in order to avoid your phone becoming infected by malware. Unfortunately, we already know that Google Play and the Windows Store aren’t immune to malware. Even the Apple Store has its bad days, so we’re not trying to scare you. These days, malware is a continuing, growing threat.
Ad-injection is an increasingly annoying and dangerous problem
There are basically two reactions people have when they see ads in their browser. Some think they add interesting content and possibilities, insights and ideas or even, opportunities. The other group considers them as a distraction, an invasion and a disruption to what they were doing.
But most everyone will agree, once you begin something on your laptop or mobile, especially if it’s work-related task, you want to continue what you started. Lots of people get so into what they’re doing that they don’t see or think of anything else, and when an unwelcome ad comes through, it breaks the concentration. Some will say this is a man’s perspective. But even some women I talk to agree; even though they always say they are multitasking and (cough, cough) never lose focus.
When it comes to security, ads are becoming more and more a vehicle for malware. Ad-injecting malware is really a threat nowadays. Once on your device – computer or mobile – the malware will drop new ads into any (or most) sites you visit, sending ad revenue back to remote cybercriminals. For example, malicious porn ads use this type of redirection and clicking techniques.
Research conducted by Google from June to October of 2014 concluded that deceptive ad injection is a significant problem on the web today. They identified tens of millions of instances of ad injection and detected 5.3 million different IP addresses infected with adware, 5% of the total testing group. The research also found that Superfish, one of the notorious businesses that have ad injection libraries, was alive and well, not only pre-installed on Lenovo laptops, but breaking SSL protections for any other computer running it in background.
Ways to control unwanted ads in your browser
That online shopping increases day by day is not news. If you are an average user, you are probably already aware of the normal precautions and have taken them yourself. Ease of use and convenience when browsing for different products or searching for the best prices has improved greatly. However, at the same time, online threats and frauds have also increased exponentially. Therefore, from time to time, all of us must review our behavior and think again if our habits are secure.
Best practices while online shopping
1. Use your own computer or mobile device when shopping. It seems obvious, but you cannot trust a computer that does not belong to you, even your best friend’s computer. It might not have appropriate protection and it could already be compromised by malware. So, always use your own device, install an anti-malware solution and before you start doing anything that involves your money, scan your network to discover if it is safe.
Over time, we’ve noticed the presence of some fairly heated user debates disputing the necessity of security or antivirus apps for Android devices. This could have been sparked by our recent post which argues that you can’t always rely on the security of Google Play or because of the myth that antivirus companies create viruses to sell more software.
Certain security gurus claim that if users stick to downloading and purchasing apps using only the Google Play Store, nothing bad will happen to their devices. However, we found that this line of thinking is not 100% correct, as was demonstrated through the discovery of a rogue Dubsmash app or in the infamous case of apps on Google Play posing as games and infecting millions of users with adware. Despite these findings, there are some users who still feel that they’re safe whenever using Google Play. This feeling of false security could have negative consequences; for example, when your data or financial information is stolen or when you have to resort to resetting your device in order to cleanse it of malware.
So, we know we can’t rely on the Google Play Store all the time, but are third-party stores more secure? Of course not. In this case, how is it still possible that it’s not a problem to use third-party stores? First of all, it’s necessary to point out that there are certain legitimate and clean third-party stores, such as Amazon and FDroid. At the same time, there are tons of shady stores and even more black market .apk files promising to deliver you the latest features of a cracked app.
We rely on our apps. Everyday we use our favorite ones to check news, the weather for our next trip, and communicate with our loved ones. Some apps, especially the system ones, are continuously in use, even if they are not the foremost app on your screen. The keyboard is one of them.
Recently, a dangerous vulnerability was discovered in the most popular keyboard, SwiftKey. If you have a Samsung S6, S5, and even a S4 running the stock operating system, you’re at risk. The app always checks for language updates, but this process is not performed in a secure way. If you’re connected with an open or public Wi-Fi, your phone is at risk of a very common and dangerous Man-in-the-middle attack. Your connection will be compromised and all the Internet traffic could be eavesdropped upon. That includes the passwords you’re typing in the very same keyboard, your financial information, everything.
To insure your security, you need to use a VPN when on Wi-Fi, since that’s when most updates are scheduled to occur. You probably already know what a VPN is and how it works. If not, you can find a lot of information in our blog. Our product, Avast SecureLine VPN, creates an encrypted tunnel for the inbound and outbound data of your Internet connection, blocking any possibility of a Man-in-the-middle attack.
But the story does not end here. If you use SwiftKey on an unsecured Wi-Fi, the attacker could also download malware into your phone or tablet. That’s a job for Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus (AMS). Some users think that we don’t need a security product for our phones. They also think that security companies exaggerate the need for a security app just to sell their products. AMS not only scans the installation process of apps but also checks the Internet sites you’re visiting and malicious behavior of any file in your device. You can install Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus on your Android device for free from the Google Play store.
NOTE: At the writing of this post, a patch for the vulnerability was provided to mobile network operators by Samsung. SwiftKey wrote on their blog, “This vulnerability is unrelated to and does not affect our SwiftKey consumer apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store.”
It’s very common to find people concerned about Windows viruses and malware that say, “Oh, my PC is protected by Avast Antivirus, but we don’t need it for our smartphones and tablets.”
With more than 230 million Avast Antivirus customers, we see “only” 60 million or so Android users of Avast Mobile Security. Many more mobile devices are sold every second than desktops and notebooks together. Why are people not as concerned about the security of their smartphone as their desktop?
The AV-Comparatives survey that we wrote about yesterday in Avast Mobile Security is the #1 choice for Android users 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.
What about the rest of the Android users?
- Do you realize that mobile malware is increasing?
- Do you realize that you (most probably) have much more personal info in your smartphone than your PC? Like photos, selfies, contacts, videos, and also banking and financial information.
- What if one of your apps is using your personal info against you like the Dubsmash 2 app we just discovered?
Your Android device needs protection
Avast Mobile Security is a complete suite for Android protection. It is completely focused on security and privacy features.
Maybe you have a friend or your girlfriend that should be reading this… Take this opportunity to introduce them to Avast Mobile Security and teach them some tips about mobile security. Maybe we’ll see a better protected world if we reduce the number of unprotected devices and the cybercrooks have more work to steal from innocents. Download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.
Earn free Avast Mobile Premium
In the latest update of Avast Mobile Security, we added a referral program, so you can recommend Avast Mobile Security to your friends and family. Not only can you recommend the best mobile security app available on Google Play, but you will be rewarded for doing so; you can earn up to three months of Avast Mobile Premium for free!
Here is how it works: For every five friends you send an SMS to recommending Avast, you get one free month of Avast Mobile Premium. Cool, huh?
Do your good action today: Tell someone you care about that smartphones and tablets need to have a security app installed and updated..
Recently we told you about malware inside of Google Play and we also alerted you to the resurrection of Simplocker, a dangerous ransomware that has started its second infection wave. Hopefully, you are convinced that you need to seek a top security application for your Android device. It’s just not safe out there any longer.
However, how can you be sure that our security application is doing its job correctly and extensively?
Some people doubt marketing talk on vendor websites, but we know you cannot start testing every apk file or entering the dark side site of Internet just to see if our solution works. That’s why Avast has chosen to submit our products to third party, independent testing labs.
AV-TEST runs Avast Mobile Security through the paces
AV-TEST is a well-known testing laboratory for mobile security. Recently, they tested 31 mobile security products for Android focusing “on malware detection and usability, including performance and false positives”.
They used 2,950 different malware samples and Avast Mobile Security blocked 100% of them. The malware set was a very recent one: malware in the wild in the last 4 weeks.
Avast Mobile Security did not commit any mistake when tested with 1,932 legitimate apps from the Google Play Store and 981 legitimate apps from third party app stores. The better of the two worlds: protection and usability.
In addition, all this protection, according to AV-TEST, did not “impact the battery life”, or “slow down the device during normal usage”, and “does not generate too much traffic”.
The testing Lab gives a thumbs up for all the other security features that you can find in Avast Mobile Security:
- Anti-Theft for remote lock, wipe and locate your lost or stolen device. NOTE: For those of you who do not have automatic update turned on, please do an update ASAP so you can keep Anti-theft working optimally.
- Call Blocker from specific or unknown numbers and a SMS Filter for unwanted content.
- Safe Browsing that protects against malicious websites and/or phishing.
- Backup for personal data on cloud storage.
- Firewall that allows control over your connection usage over 3G/4G/Wi-Fi/Roaming.
- Network Meter that gives you easy to understand information about your data plans.
Don’t you want to try it? You can download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.
Not too many years ago we had phones that only made calls. Smartphones are the newest generation of phones that bring a lot of possibilities right to our fingers through the apps specifically designed for them. We all got used to the Windows (or Mac) world, but now we are witnessing a revolution from “standard” programs and some specialized tools to a world where every common thing can be done by our smartphones. Sometimes it seems, that the device is smarter than we are!
But can it protect itself from the increasing number of threats?
You’ll find a lot of articles on the Internet which state that security companies exaggerate the need for mobile security and antivirus protection. You’ll read that Google Play and the new security technologies of Android Lollipop are the only things necessary for security. I could post many examples of such (bad) tips, but I don’t want to waste your time or mine.
Do you use only Google Play as your app source?
A common (and wise) security tip is to stick with Google Play for downloading apps. This is good advice despite the fact that we see here in the Avast blog that Google Play fails to detect some apps as malware. Look for our mobile malware senior virus analyst Filip Chytry’s articles. He continuously discovers holes in Google Play security.
However, what if you want apps that have been banned from Google Play? No, I’m not talking about (just) adult apps. Google banned anti-ad apps, for instance. So where is a safe place to get them? The answer is simple: outside of Google Play. The Amazon Appstore for Android is quickly increasing the possibilities.
Do you think that clean apps can’t become bad ones?
Clean apps can become bad ones, and with the new Google Play permission scheme, you may not even notice. This makes updating your apps (another very common and wise hint) an additional complication.
As the apps we love can turn against us, the best tip of all is that you install a mobile security app that helps you know what it being added to your phone. Avast Mobile Security updates its virus database very often to detect the latest threats and allows you to install securely all the apps you love.
This makes you smarter than your smartphone!