An Avast team calling themselves the Security Warriors, comprised of intra-departmental specialists, are running experiments in the streets of San Francisco. They spent a few days setting up the first of them and have already gathered some interesting statistics. In Filip‘s words, here is what they have done so far and what they want to achieve.
One of our first experiment’s objectives is to analyze people’s behavior by seeing how they have their devices preset in terms of outside communication. We didn’t have to go far to find out – it’s pretty disturbing. Currently, we have a variety of devices prepared for different traffic experiments but now we are using them for one really easy target – to analyze how many people connect to a fake hotspot. We created fake Wi-Fi networks called Xfinity, Google Starbucks, and Starbucks. From what we’ve noticed, Starbucks is one of the most widespread networks here, so it’s pretty easy to get people’s devices to connect to ours.
What is the problem we’re trying to point out?
Once your device connects to a known SSID name at your favorite cafe, the next time you visit, it will automatically try to connect to a network with the same name. This common occurrence becomes a problem because it can be misused by a hacker. Read more…
There’s more than one RAT: Avast discovers that OmniRat is currently being used and spread by criminals to gain full remote control of devices.
On Friday, I discovered OmniRat, a program similar to DroidJack. DroidJack is a program that facilitates remote spying and recently made news when European law enforcement agencies made arrests and raided the homes of suspects as part of an international malware investigation.
OmniRat and DroidJack are RATs (remote administration tools) that allow you to gain remote administrative control of any Android device. OmniRat can also give you remote control of any Windows, Linux or Mac device. Remote administrative control means that once the software is installed on the target device, you have full remote control of the device.
On their website, OmniRat lists all of the things you can do once you have control of an Android, which include: retrieving detailed information about services and processes running on the device, viewing and deleting browsing history, making calls or sending SMS to any number, recording audio, executing commands on the device and more.
Avast simplifies how you protect your privacy with new products for 2016.
Count the number of devices you own. If you are like most modern digital-age people, you have a smartphone, half of you own a tablet, and most all of us have a desktop or laptop computer connected through a home router.
Now think about all the private information that you have on those devices. Bank account numbers, passwords, photos, messages and emails – all of them needing some form of protection to stay out of the wrong hands.
In a survey we did this year, 69% of you told us that your biggest fear is that the wrong person would see your personal information. In fact, Americans are so scared of having their financial information get into a bad guy’s possession, that 74% said they’d rather have nude photos of themselves leaked on the Internet! The problem is that most people are not doing anything to protect their privacy, for example, 40% of Americans don’t even lock their smartphones.
“While people are rightfully concerned about privacy, there is a disconnect between that concern and the steps they take to protect themselves,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. “Users have a multitude of devices and passwords to keep track of, which can be overwhelming. When users feel overwhelmed, they tend to default to unsafe practices that put their privacy at risk.”
The new Avast 2016 for PC and Mac, the redesigned Avast Mobile Security, and the new kid on the block, Avast SecureMe, will all help reduce the complex task of protecting your private, personal information.
So time to face your fear and take steps to protect yourself. Here’s some tools that Avast is launching today to help you:
Twenty Android mobile phones were intentionally lost in The Lost Phones social experiment that Avast security analysts ran for 5 months.
The story is about how Avast Anti-Theft was able to track the phones and follow the journey that some of them took after being found. But four of those phones were returned to Avast because of good Samaritans who didn’t feel it was right to keep them.
We spoke to two of them; Quiana W., who found a phone on a park bench in Harlem, New York City and to Michael D. who found one in a public restroom in San Francisco. We asked what they thought when they first spotted the phones.
Quiana: I wanted to check it to see if it was on and see if I would be able to contact someone to return their phone. I know what it feels like to lose things, wallet or a phone, so I was just trying to pay it forward. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen back to me in this way, but it was just something that kind of took my heart.
Michael: My initial reaction was to leave the phone where it was. It seemed a little suspicious – how could someone not hear the phone drop onto the floor? I also thought that someone might mistake me for a thief if I walked out with the phone. But then, partially out of boredom and partially out of honesty, I decided to play detective and find the phone’s owner.
We trust our free app Avast Anti-Theft to track down lost phones, but we wanted to put it to the test in a real-world situation. So five months ago, we bought 20 Android smartphones and installed three security apps on all the phones: Our free Avast Anti-Theft app, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. Each phone was marked with contact information on where to return the device if found. After all was prepared, Avast security analysts traveled to New York City and San Francisco to randomly “lose” them in public places.
Here’s a video that shows what happened.
Over the months, the analysts used the Avast Anti-Theft app to track the lost devices and observed the following:
- 15 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature
- 11 phones stayed online for more than 24 hours after losing them
- 7 phones we were able to track for several months
- 4 phones were returned
- 4 phones are currently online and used
- 2 phones ended up abroad
- 1 phone was never factory data reset
The majority of lost devices were wiped clean using the factory reset feature, but only the Avast Anti-Theft app survived the factory reset.
You can track your missing mobile phones and tablets with Avast Anti-Theft. Get it for free from the Google Play Store.
Many of us have found ourselves in situations in which we need Wi-Fi connection and are unable to find it easily. Since we’ve become used to being connected to safe and steady Wi-Fi networks at home or in the office, it can become frustrating and inconvenient when we’re unable to establish a quick connection and gain secure online access.
For those seeking a fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi connection, we’re happy to introduce you to Avast Wi-Fi Finder. Our new app gives you the opportunity to have a fast connection regardless of your location while continuously providing you with privacy and security. Whether you’re at the gym, a hotel, cafe, bus station or library, Avast Wi-Fi Finder has got you covered.
That’s what we wanted to find out.
Avast security analysts ran a five-month experiment to “lose” and track 20 mobile phones.
To prepare the phones for the experiment, they activated three security apps: Our own free Avast Anti-Theft, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. They made sure that each phone was marked with contact information so it could be returned if found. Then, they randomly placed 10 phones around New York City and the other 10 around San Francisco.
It didn’t take long for the phones to be found and tampered with. Fifteen of the 20 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature. They only security app that survived the factory reset was Avast Anti-Theft.
That was just what our analysts needed to track the lost devices on their adventures.
And what adventures they had!
On a slow boat to…India?!
One of the phones, lost in Battery Park, New York City, eventually found its way to Mumbai, India. At first, a long, slow journey across the Atlantic Ocean had our analysts baffled, until they theorized that the phone was aboard a transatlantic cargo ship. Read more…
Have you ever served as a beta tester for one of our mobile apps? The release of the latest and greatest Avast Mobile Security is right around the corner, and we want YOU to help us make our mobile security app the very best it can be.
It’s important to emphasize that the beta version of Avast Mobile Security isn’t available to everyone quite yet – the latest version of the app will make its way onto your device as soon as it’s released.
Becoming a beta tester for Avast Mobile Security now only requires three easy steps
Getting the latest news and updates about our app is easy as pie. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Visit this link.
2. Click the “BECOME A BETA TESTER” button. Avast Mobile Security will automatically update itself upon its imminent launch. You simply have to wait until the new design appears on your phone.
3. Once you receive the update, we’d love it if you could share your thoughts about the app with us in our Google+ community.
Once you’ve opted to become a tester using the link above, you’re all set to go! Thanks for becoming one of our valued beta testers.
As Google Play tightens their security measures on mobile apps, hackers are moving to third party app stores. Fake apps imitating popular apps were found on the Windows Phone Store earlier this week. Now a new batch of infected Android apps imitating the real deal have been found on unofficial third-party Android app stores.
The new malicious adware, dubbed Kemoge, reported Wednesday by security researchers at FireEye, also disguises itself as popular applications. The apps trick the user into installing them through in-app ads and ads promoting the download links via websites. The legitimate appearing apps aggressively display unwanted advertisements which seem annoying, but in the FireEye blog researcher Yulong Zhong writes, ” it soon turns evil.”
The fake apps gain root access and gathers device information such as the phones IMEI, IMSI, and storage information, then sends the data to a remote server.
Infections have been discovered in more than 20 countries, including the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Because of Chinese characters found in the code, it is believed that the malware was written by Chinese developers or controlled by Chinese hackers. The apps included Talking Tom 3, WiFi Enhancer, Assistive Touch, PinkyGirls, and Sex Cademy.
How to protect your Android device from infection
- Only install apps from trusted stores like Google Play
- Avoid clicking on links from ads, SMS, websites, or emails
- Keep your device and apps up up-to-date
- Install protection that scans apps like Avast Mobile Security
Our team had a wonderful time meeting and networking with the crème de la crème of security industry professionals at this year’s Virus Bulletin Conference in Prague, of which we were a proud platinum sponsor. Throughout the conference, a handful of Avast employees presented talks a variety of today’s most prominent security-centered topics. For those who weren’t able to make it to the conference, we’d like to provide a brief recap of the content that was covered.
Taking a close look at denial of service attacks
In their presentation, “DDoS trojan: a malicious concept that conquered the ELF format“, senior malware analysts Petr Kalnai and Jaromir Horejsi discussed the serious issues relating to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Abstract: DDoS threats have been out there since the Internet took over half of global communication, posing the real problem of denial of access to online service providers. Recently, a new trend emerged in non-Windows DDoS attacks that was induced by code availability, lack of security, and an abundance of resources. The attack infrastructure has undergone significant structural, functional and complexity changes. Malicious aspects have evolved into complex and relatively sophisticated pieces of code, employing compression, advanced encryption and even rootkit capabilities. Targeted machines run systems supporting the ELF format – anything from desktops and servers to IoT devices like routers or digital video recorders (DVRs) could be at risk.