When it comes to cybercrime, it’s always better to be in the know. Here are a few ways that web attacks can find their way onto your device. Don’t be fooled — most cybercrooks design attacks to take place where you’d least expect it.
Social engineering preys on human weakness
“A lot of attacks are still using social engineering techniques; phishing emails – ways of convincing the user to give up valuable information,” said Avast CEO Vince Steckler.
In a phishing or spearphishing attack, hackers use email messages to trick people into providing sensitive information, click on links, or download malware. The emails are seemingly sent from organizations or individuals the potential victims would normally get emails from, making them even more deceptive. Last July, Avast took a look at the Tinba Trojan, banking malware that used spearphishing to target its victims.
An example of an injected form from Tinba Trojan targeting U.S. Bank customers.
Web attacks also take place through SMS Text Phishing, also known as SMSishing. This method has become one of the most popular ways in which malicious threats are transmitted on Android devices. These text messages include links that contain malware, and upon clicking them, the malicious program is downloaded to the user’s device. These programs often operate as SMS worms capable of sending messages, removing apps and files, and stealing confidential information from the user.
Malicious apps attempt to fool you
Malicious programs can disguise themselves as real programs by hiding within popular apps or games. In February, we examined malicious apps posing as games on Google Play that infected millions of users with adware. In the case of malicious apps, cybercrooks tamper with the app’s code, inserting additional features and malicious programs that infect devices. As a result, the malware can attempt to use SMSishing in order to collect additional data.
The Durak card game app was the most widespread of the malicious apps with 5 – 10 million installations according to Google Play.
Ransomware uses scare tactics that really work
Another name that made headlines was a group of malware dubbed ransomware, such as CryptoLocker, and its variants Cryptowall, Prison Locker, PowerLocker, and Zerolocker. The most widespread is Cryptolocker, which encrypts data on a computer and demands money from the victim in order to provide the decryption key. Avast detects and protects its users from CryptoLocker and GameoverZeus.
Make sure you back up important files on a regular basis to avoid losing them to ransomware. Ransomware made its way from desktop to Android during the year, and Avast created a Ransomware Removal app to eliminate Android ransomware and unlocks encrypted files for free.
Count on Avast apps to keep mobile malware at bay
To keep your devices protected from other ransomware, make sure to also install Avast Free Mobile Security & Antivirus from the Google Play store. It can detect and remove the malware before it is deployed.
Install Avast Ransomware Removal to find out if your Android devices are infected and to get rid of an infection. Avast Ransomware Removal will tell you if your phone has ransomware on it. If you are infected, it will eliminate the malware. Android users who are clean can use the free app to prevent an infection from happening.Once installed, you can easily launch the app to scan the device, remove the virus, and then decrypt your hijacked files.
Today, we celebrate World Backup Day with a reminder of how important it is to back up our data.
Data loss can occur when least expected, and it’s a shame that so many irreplaceable digital memories are lost. For businesses, it can be costly – the kind of costs that can close the doors!
So take the pledge today, and then get busy.
“I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”
What is a backup?
A backup is a second (and sometimes third) copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, home videos, documents and emails. It’s not something you do once a year and forget about; a good backup plan will be continuous and include multiple layers to not only recover your data but also include steps for data preservation.
The rule of thumb for backing up is
- 3 copies of anything you care about – Two isn’t enough if it’s important.
- 2 different formats – Example: Dropbox + DVDs or Hard Drive + Memory Stick or CD + Crash Plan, or more
- 1 off-site backup – If the house burns down, how will you get your memories back?
Experts advise that you store two copies of your files in external storage media. That can be a local drive on your computer, an external hard drive, you could print documents, burn a DVD, etc. You can backup important files or your entire computer. Another copy should be kept off-site. Many people use an “online drive” like Drop Box or Google Drive. “Cloud” backups are great for people who want to keep only their most important documents safe because there is usually only a certain amount of storage that’s free.
Don’t forget to back up the data on your mobile devices
Thirty seven percent of respondents we surveyed said they do not back up their data. Don’t wait until your device is lost or destroyed – today is the day to do your first backup!
If you have an Android mobile phone or tablet, install our free Avast Mobile Backup to back up your contacts, call logs, SMS text messages, and other data to your Avast account or Google Drive.
Devastation. The feeling you get when you realize your mobile phone is missing. All those photos, contacts, and other data- gone forever. Why? Because it wasn’t backed up.
Just in time for World Backup Day, Avast conducted a global survey to find out whether or not people back up data on their mobile devices. We received responses from 288,000 users in countries including the United States, Germany, India, Mexico, and Russia.
In order to get an idea of which kinds of data users store on their devices, we began the survey by asking respondents for what purposes they use their mobile devices aside from making calls and sending text messages. In response, we found that
- Two out of ten people use their mobile device to take photos
- 18% browse the Internet
- 17% listen to music/watch videos
- 16% use social networking apps like Facebook and LinkedIn
Why do people not back up their data?
Put simply, most people don’t think it is necessary to back up their data. Globally 36% and nearly half of Russians do not think it is necessary (48%).
Almost a quarter of the world attributes not backing up their data to laziness (24%). Thirty-two percent of Indian people admit that they are too lazy to do a back up.
Thirty-six percent of British respondents claimed not to back up their data because they believe their data is not valuable, compared to only 22% of global respondents citing this as their reason for not backing up their mobile data.
What is more valuable to mobile users: hardware or data?
Now that we established that lots of people don’t care about their data, are too lazy to prevent its loss, or don’t think its worth the trouble, we then asked users what they would be more upset about losing: their data (that has not been backed up) or their device (the hardware).
Globally, 64% of people would be more upset about losing their data that has not been backed up rather than the device itself. Respondents in Mexico backed up this claim most significantly, with 78% of Mexican users claiming they would be more upset about losing their data than losing their hardware.
Which data are people worried about losing?
Across the board, users were most heavily concerned about losing the contacts stored on their mobile device (25%) and photos (21%). Despite these concerns, 37% of respondents said they do not back up their data. Brazilians are the least likely to back up their data (45%), yet 64% of Brazilians would be upset about losing it.
Why you should back up your mobile data
We use our mobile devices to make important calls, capture valuable moments, browse the web, to use our favorite apps and so much more. Anything can happen to your mobile device in a split second; it could fall into the toilet, go missing (either through loss or theft) or even get run over by a car! Yet, as we discovered, many do not back up the data they consider indispensable.
How to back up your data
You can back up your data in many ways: by connecting your mobile device to a PC (like nearly one-third of global users do. See below.), connect to a Cloud service (like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive) or use a mobile back up app like Avast Mobile Backup.
When people actually do back up their data, how do they go about it?
The majority of those who do back up their data back it up on a monthly basis (41%), while another 8% back it up on a daily basis.
Most people back up their data by connecting to a PC (32%) — only 17% back up their data to the Cloud. When we inquired about this difference in numbers, 46% of users expressed their reluctance to back up to the Cloud due to privacy concerns. Germans were the most concerned about their privacy when it came to Cloud back up (61%), with Spanish (58%) and American (57%) respondents close behind them.
Stay safe on public Wi-Fi while watching the game from anywhere in the world with Avast SecureLine VPN.
March Madness is in full swing — this year’s NCAA Tournament is now in its second week and we’re already down to the Sweet 16. When you think about March Madness, you probably think about your bracket, your favorite college basketball teams, and the bets you’ll place on those who you think will win the tournament. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of March Madness, it’s the betting process that you should really be paying attention to: this popular activity serves as the perfect opportunity for hackers to access your personal information.
Since most people watch the NCAA games in bars or cafes with friends, they make the majority of their bets using their mobile devices while connected to public and often unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they‘re not safe. Cybercrooks can easily access and steal personal data when you‘re connected to these unprotected networks. Even if you’re transmitting data from one HTTPS site to another, it’s the connection in-between the two sites that really puts your data at risk. Additionally, developments such as real-time betting make the odds for getting hacked even greater.
During March Madness, a time of year when so many financial transactions are being made, cybercrooks are especially likely to steal your banking info (e.g. your credit card and/or account numbers) and personal info (e.g. your social security number, social media accounts, etc.). Avast SecureLine VPN for Android and updated for iOS devices keeps these cybercrooks at bay and securely allows you to use your PCs, smartphones, and tablets on unsecure Wi-Fi networks while participating in March Madness at your favorite bar or cafe.
“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, COO at AVAST. “We created Avast SecureLine VPN to allow users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”
Watch content from all over the world
You don’t have to miss a single game or your favorite program while you are traveling. SecureLine VPN makes it look like you’re connected from a different location, allowing you to view ‘local’ content anywhere because your shown geo-IP address will be different from your real one.
Keep your data and identity safe using Avast SecureLine
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Avast SecureLine VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything – inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since Avast SecureLine masks your IP address.
For those of you interested in technical specs, here are the highlights:
- Avast Secureline VPN uses OpenVPN protocol.
- The encryption used is 256bit AES.
- Communication on all ports is encrypted.
How to get Avast SecureLine
The 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.
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.”
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. 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.
- 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…
Andreas L. lost his phone at a party, but that’s not the end of the story. Avast Anti-Theft helped him find the thief and get his phone back.
A lot can happen when you go to a party: you may bump into old friends, make new ones, or dance like there is no tomorrow. Losing track of your personal belongings can also happen when you party, which is exactly what happened to Andreas from Bangkok.
Andreas recently commented the following on our Facebook page:
We were happy to hear Avast Anti-Theft helped Andreas get his phone back and asked him what happened and how exactly he used Avast’s features to get his phone back. Here is his story:
Andreas went to a party in Bangkok where he made new friends, had a few drinks and at the end of the night Andreas responsibly took a taxi home. When he woke up the next morning he realized that every smartphone owner’s worst nightmare had happened to him, his phone was missing! Losing a smartphone is not only frustrating because the hardware is expensive, but because it contains so much personal information.
Avast Anti-Theft to the rescue!
While Andreas worried about his phone, he received a message from Avast. The message informed him that his phone’s SIM card had been changed and provided him with the new SIM card’s number and service provider. That is when Andreas realized he could use Avast’s other anti-theft features to GPS locate his phone and perform commands like wiping his phone remotely. Luckily, Andreas did not have to go as far as wiping his phone, but the option did help him in his efforts to get his phone back.
I will look for you, and I will find my phone
With his phone’s new number in hand, Andreas called the thief to confront him and demand he return his phone. Andreas let the thief know that he knew his location (and more) and could render the phone useless and go to the police if the thief did not cooperate. The thief gave in and sent Andreas his phone.
Andreas’ story is one of many lost and found stories we have received from Avast Anti-Theft users and each story gets more interesting! From this experience we can only recommend partiers install Avast Anti-Theft before going out, we will have your back so you can party worry free!
New intelligent app from Avast learns individual user behavior and optimizes features to maximize battery life.
Avast is excited to announce the release of our newest app, Avast Battery Saver. Battery Saver is the first intelligent battery-saver app for Android that increases battery life by an average of 7 hours. Avast Battery Saver optimizes your device’s settings, adjusting data connections, screen brightness and timeouts based off of its ability to learn about individual usage behavior.
“Everyone needs more battery life for their mobile devices, but most battery savers shut down the wrong apps,” said Jude McColgan, Avast’s President of Mobile. “Avast Battery Saver learns which apps are most important to the user, and shuts down only those that are less used.”
In contrast to other battery-saver applications, Avast Battery Saver learns about your daily routine and thus suggests the best smart profiles for your phone. It doesn’t require you to change your behavior or usage, nor does it affect voice calls, text messages, or the ring volume of your phone.
Avast Battery Saver significantly improves battery life, saving up to 20% on one charge — and it’s free from the Google Play Store.
This improved battery manager will take care of your battery’s health the same way a doctor takes care of yours. The result is more battery life with less hassle.
The app’s convenient features make Android devices significantly more efficient
- Smart profiles activate automatically based on time, location, and battery level.
- App consumption detects and permanently stops apps that drain too much battery life.
- Precise estimate of remaining battery life based on actual phone usage and historical data. Battery level is displayed in a percentage and time remaining in status bar notification.
- The application can turn off Wi-Fi when there are no known hotspots nearby.
- Your phone limits connections to the Internet to every 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes, based on your current profile configuration, when its screen is turned off.
- Emergency mode is activated when your battery level is very low, and it turns off all functions that require significant energy, saving power for when you really need it (e.g. Wi-Fi, data connection, Bluetooth or GPS).
The app currently works with these profiles: Home, Work, Night, and Super-Saving Emergency Mode. You can easily switch from one mode to another and manage them within the app. Avast Battery Saver is now available for download in the Google Play Store.
Today, Avast announced the launch of Avast GrimeFighter at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new application helps Android users free extra memory on their devices with just a few taps so they can save the data that matters to them while enjoying a faster, smoother performance on their devices.
How Avast GrimeFighter works
Avast GrimeFighter begins by scanning all applications on an Android device, identifying unimportant or unnecessary data that could be eliminated without damaging applications’ functionalities. Using GrimeFighter’s easy-to-use interface, users can choose from two modes that allow them to eliminate excess files with ease: Safe Cleaner and Advanced Cleaner. Safe Cleaner is a customizable scanner that quickly identifies unimportant data for instant, one-tap removal. Advanced Cleaner runs in parallel to Safe Cleaner, mapping all of the device’s storage and creating a simple overview of all files and applications that take up space. Advanced Cleaner locates inflated or unused applications and arranges them by file type, size, usage, or name, so users can permanently remove the files and free up storage space.
In addition to cleaning up unwanted data, Avast GrimeFighter helps maximize storage capacity by syncing with personal cloud storage accounts so users can manage their device’s storage without having to delete valuable data. Users can drag files to the cloud icon and GrimeFighter will instantly transfer them to a safe folder in the cloud. Avast GrimeFighter is currently compatible with Dropbox and can assist users in setting up a Dropbox account. Additional popular cloud storage solutions will be added soon.
How does excess data get accumulated?
Bits and pieces of data accumulate on your device, whether you are aware of it or not. GrimeFighter helps you locate excess data that you wouldn’t typically be able to find, such as data left over from initiated app downloads, residual data, thumbnails, and app caches. Popular apps, like Facebook and Instagram, also create excess data on your device as they inflate from their original download size when used regularly. Avast tested some of the most popular Android apps and found that their size can grow exponentially during one week of heavy usage:
install size: additional data accumulated:
1) Facebook 36.7MB 153MB
2) Flipboard 12.6MB 71.1MB
3) Google Maps 23.21MB 68.8MB
Avast GrimeFighter will help the more than one billion Android users free up anywhere from 500MB to 1GB of storage per device to enjoy faster performance and is available for download on Google Play.
Avast mobile security experts launched a new app today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
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.
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.