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March 23rd, 2015

Stay safe during March Madness using Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine VPN lets you watch March Madness while traveling.

Avast SecureLine VPN gives you access to geo-restricted programming and protects you from unsecured Wi-Fi.

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.

Play geo-restricted content from all over the world.

Play content from all over the world while connected via SecureLine VPN.

 

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

Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Android on Google Play and for iOS in the Apple App Store.

 

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 9th, 2015

Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft!

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 can help you find your lost phone.

Find your lost phone with Avast Anti-Theft like Andreas did.

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!

You can install Avast Anti-Theft for free from the Google Play Store.

If you have a story to share, write us on our Facebook or Google+ page. We could share it in our blog.

 

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March 4th, 2015

Avast Battery Saver extends your Android’s battery life

New intelligent app from Avast learns individual user behavior and optimizes features to maximize battery life.

Avast Battery Saver app for Android

Get Avast Battery Saver for free from Google Play

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.

March 3rd, 2015

Avast Launches Memory Saving Cleaner App for Android

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. 

GrimeFighterHow 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.  

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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.

March 2nd, 2015

Avast study exposes global Wi-Fi browsing activity

The use of open, unprotected Wi-Fi networks has become increasingly popular across the globe. Whether you’re traveling around a new city and rely on public Wi-Fi networks to get around or you’re at your favorite coffee shop and connect to its Wi-Fi, you’re left in a vulnerable situation when it comes to protecting your data. Just as you lock the door of your house when you leave, you should also use a security app if using public Wi-Fi.

Couple taking selfie

Using unsecured Wi-Fi can easily expose photos and other personal information to hackers.

 

Avast’s hack experiment examines browsing habits of people across the globe

The Avast team recently undertook a global hacking experiment, where our mobile security experts traveled to cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia to observe the public Wi-Fi activity in nine major metropolitan areas. Our experiment revealed that most mobile users aren’t taking adequate steps to protect their data and privacy from cybercriminals. In the U.S., the Avast mobile experts visited Chicago, New York, and San Francisco; in Europe, they visited Barcelona, Berlin, and London; and in Asia, they traveled to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Taipei. Each of our experts was equipped with a laptop and a Wi-Fi adapter with the ability to monitor the Wi-Fi traffic in the area. For this purpose, we developed a proprietary app, monitoring the wireless traffic at 2.4 GHz frequency. It’s important to mention that there are commercial Wi-Fi monitoring apps like this available in the market that are easy-to-use, and available for free.

wifi experiment Bundestag

In front of the German Bundestag, Berlin: On public Wi-Fi, log in details can easily be monitored.

The study revealed that users in Asia are the most prone to attacks. Users in San Francisco and Barcelona were most likely to take steps to protect their browsing, and users in Europe were also conscious about using secure connections. While mobile users in Asia were most likely to join open networks, Europeans and Americans were slightly less so; in Seoul, 99 out of 100 users joined unsecured networks, compared with just 80 out of 100 in Barcelona.

1)      Seoul: 99 out of 100

2)      Hong Kong: 98 out of 100

3)      Taipei: 97 out of 100

4)      Chicago: 96 out of 100

5)      New York: 91 out of 100

6)      Berlin: 88 out of 100

7)      London: 83 out of 100

8)      Barcelona: 80 out of 100

9)      San Francisco: 80 out of 100

Our experiment shed light on the fact that a significant portion of mobile users browse primarily on unsecured HTTP sites.  Ninety-seven percent of users in Asia connect to open, unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Seven out of ten password-protected routers use weak encryption methods, making it simple for them to be hacked. Nearly one half of the web traffic in Asia takes place on unprotected HTTP sites, compared with one third U.S. traffic and roughly one quarter of European traffic. This can most likely be attributed to the fact that there are more websites in Europe and the U.S. that use the HTTPS protocol than in Asia.

So, how much of your browsing activity can actually be monitored?

Because HTTP traffic is unprotected, our team was able to view all of the users’ browsing activity, including domain and page history, searches, personal log in information, videos, emails, and comments.  Read more…

February 27th, 2015

Avast at Mobile World Congress 2015

MWC2015

Stop by for a visit with Avast; booth 5K29.

New mobile apps, a live Wi-Fi hack, results of a global Wi-Fi experiment, a demonstration of mobile malware, and Avast mobile experts can all be found at Avast’s booth (hall 5 stand 5K29) at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Open Wi-Fi Risks and Live Demonstration

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks at airports, hotels, or cafes has become common practice for people around the world. Many users are, however, unaware that their sensitive data is visible to hackers if they don’t use protection. This data includes emails, messages, passwords and browsing history – information you don’t necessarily want the guy sipping the latte next to you at the cafe to see. Avast experts traveled to different cities across the U.S., as well as Europe and Asia, to find out how much information is openly shared via public Wi-Fi. They found that one-third of browsing traffic in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago is openly visible for hackers.

At the Congress, Avast will conduct a Wi-Fi hack demonstration. The demonstration will allow visitors to see, first hand, what a hacker can access if they don’t use protection. Participants can connect to Avast’s (password protected) Wi-Fi network to browse and send messages as they normally would when connected to open Wi-Fi. To demonstrate how this information would look through the eyes of a hacker, their activities will be displayed on a screen at the Avast stand.

Mobile Malware and Simplocker Demonstration

Mobile malware is often perceived as a myth, yet Avast currently has more than one million samples of mobile malware in its database. Avast recently discovered a new variant of the mobile ransomware, Simplocker, which will also be demonstrated during the Congress. Visitors can see how the malware disguises itself, behaves, and will learn how they can protect themselves.

Introducing Avast’s New Suite of Apps

Avast will be introducing a suite of new apps at this year’s Mobile World Congress, including productivity and security apps for Android and iOS. Avast GrimeFighter and Avast Battery Saver address two of the most common complaints for Android users: storage concerns and battery life. Avast GrimeFighter helps users free extra storage on their devices by identifying unimportant data for one-tap removal, while Avast Battery Saver extends battery life up to 24 hours by learning the user’s behavior and optimizing features to preserve battery power.

Avast SecureMe is a dual solution app that helps iOS users identify secure Wi-Fi connections and protect personal data while using public Wi-Fi connections.

Wi-Fi Security, a feature available in Avast SecureMe, and coming soon to Avast Mobile Security for Android, prevents users from falling victim to Domain Name Server (DNS) hijacking by exposing vulnerabilities in routers they want to connect to.

We look forward to meeting you!

If you are attending this year’s Mobile World Congress, feel free to stop by the Avast booth to speak with Avast experts, learn more results from Avast’s global Wi-Fi experiment, see Avast’s new mobile apps and participate in the Wi-Fi demonstration. If you aren’t attending, make sure to check our blog, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook for updates during the Congress!

Note to media: If you would like to set up a meeting with Avast, please email PR@avast.com.

 

February 24th, 2015

Are you as smart as your smartphone?

Smart phone

How do I find my apps on this thing?

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! ;-)