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March 13th, 2015

Avast at Mobile World Congress 2015

Part of the Avast team was reunited again at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, to show our new apps:  Avast Battery Saver, Avast GrimeFighter and Avast SecureMe, and also other popular apps like Avast Mobile Security and Avast SecureLine.

Jude McColgan, president of Mobile, and Filip Chitry, malware analyst, came from our office in Prague with Petra, Jindra, Zdeněk, Jakub, Petr, Juraj and Farid. Daniel Cheng, Head of Worldwide Mobile Sales and Marketing, came from our offices in Hong Kong and Sung Lyong, came from South Korea. I didn’t travel as I’m working at the host city, the beautiful city of Barcelona. Have you ever been in Barcelona? You should try the famous tapas, walk around Las Ramblas and visit La Sagrada Familia. Feel free to ask us for some recommendations on Twitter! :)

The Avast team arrived the weekend before the Mobile World Congress in order to build up our beautiful and colorful booth, located at the Hall 5, booth 5K29. After one day of exhausting work, the booth was ready to receive all the visitors and the journalists. The booth was really cool, right? ;)

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Everything started on monday. Tens of thousands of people came to the Mobile World Congress, located in Hospitalet de Llobregat (“What are you talking about? The MWC is in Barcelona!” Well, not really, the MWC is located in the second largest city of Catalonia, Hospitalet, next to Barcelona) where besides learning some security tips from the Avast team and learning about our new apps, the visitors were able to see what’s new on the mobile industry, like new smartphones, new wearables, new tablets, etc…

The following days were really successful. A lot of people came to our booth to meet the team and, of course, our new apps.

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Not only visitors, a lot of journalists from all around the world and from different media, from TV channels to tech blogs, came to our booth. Nobody wanted to miss our new apps and our impressive hacking experiment! Everyone was impressed after knowing how, with Avast Battery Saver, you can save up to 7 hours of battery and, of course, after watching our live hacking experiment, where everyone was able to see how important a good security solution is while using a public Wi-Fi.

The whole team was really satisfied with the results achieved at the Mobile World Congress. The feedback received from the visitors was really positive and of course it will help us to improve our top rated security solutions.

Do you want to know what Filip Chitrý, malware analyst at Avast, and Jindra Pistkova, mobile marketing specialist, said about the Mobile World Congress? Watch the following video:

And last but not least, here you have a picture of the team :)

Avast Team

See you next year at Mobile World Congress 2016!

Categories: General Tags: , ,
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March 5th, 2015

Malvertising is bad for everyone but cybercriminals

One rotten malvertisement not only ruins the bunch, but can damage your SMB's reputation.

One rotten malvertisement not only ruins the bunch, but can damage your SMB’s reputation.

Malvertising, sounds like bad advertising right? It is bad advertising, but it doesn’t necessarily include a corny jingle or mascot. Malvertising is short for malicious advertising and is a tactic cybercriminals use to spread malware by placing malicious ads on legitimate websites. Major sites like Reuters, Yahoo, and Youtube have all fallen victim to malvertising in the past.

How can consumers and SMBs protect themselves from malvertising?

Malvertising puts both website visitors and businesses at great risk. Site visitors can get infected with malware via malvertising that either abuses their system or steals personal data, while businesses’ reputations can be tarnished if they host malvertisments. Even businesses that pay for their ads to be displayed on sites can suffer financial loss through some forms of malvertising because it can displace your own ads for the malicious ones.

To protect themselves, small and medium sized businesses should make sure they use the latest, updated version of their advertisement system, use strong passwords to avoid a dictionary attack and use free Avast for Business to discover and delete malicious scripts on their servers. Consumers should also keep their software updated and make sure they use an antivirus solution that will protect them from malicious files that could turn their PC into a robot, resulting in a slowed down system and potential privacy issues. Avast users can run Software Updater to help them identify outdated software.

How does malvertising work?

Businesses use ad systems to place and manage ads on their websites, which help them monetize. Ad systems can, however, contain vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities in general are a dream come true for cybercriminals because vulnerabilities make their “jobs” much easier and vulnerabilities in ad systems are no exception. Cybercriminals can take advantage of ad system vulnerabilities to distribute malicious ads via otherwise harmless and difficult to hack websites.

Why cybercriminals like malvertising

Cybercriminals fancy malvertising because it is a fairly simple way for them to trick website visitors into clicking on their malicious ads. Cybercriminals have high success rates with malvertising, because most people don’t expect normal looking ads that are displayed on websites they trust to be malicious. Targeting well-visited websites, not only raises the odds of ad clicks, but this also allows cybercriminals to target specific regions and audiences they normally wouldn’t be able to reach very easily. Another reason why malvertising is attractive to cybercriminals is because it can often go unnoticed, as the malicious code is not hosted in the website where the ad is being displayed.

Examples of malvertising

An example of an ad system platform with a rich history of vulnerabilities is the Revive Adserver platform, formerly known as OpenX. In the past attackers could obtain administrator credentials to the platform via an SQL injection. The attackers would then upload a backdoor Trojan and tools for server control. As a result, they were able to modify advertising banners, which redirected site visitors to a website with an exploit pack. If the victim ran outdated software, the software would download and execute malicious code.

Another malware family Avast has seen in the wild and reported on that spread via malvertising was Win32/64:Blackbeard. Blackbeard was an ad fraud / click fraud family that mainly targeted the United States. According to our telemetry, Blackbeard infected hundreds of new victims daily. Blackbeard used the victim’s computer as a robot, displaying online advertisements and clicking on them without the victim’s knowledge. This resulted in income for botnet operators and a loss for businesses paying to have their ads displayed and clicked.

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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 4th, 2015

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

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“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

Categories: General Tags: ,
January 28th, 2015

Online privacy protection in the EU

It’s European #‎DataProtection day! Every day we visit websites and willingly hand over our name, address, and credit card number. Have you ever thought about what happens to that data or what your rights are?

European ‪#‎DataProtection‬ day

Avast keeps your personal data private.

 

Members of the European Union (EU) enjoy a high standard of protection of their personal data. The Digital Agenda for Europe lays it all out for you on their website. Here’s a summary:

The burden to protect you is on organizations

The EU Data Protection Directive ensures that personal data can only be gathered under strict conditions and for legitimate purposes. Organizations that collect and manage your personal information must also protect it from misuse and respect certain rights. One of the objectives is that organizations notify their customers, in plain language, what information is collected and how it is used as well as get permission before using any personal information.

One of the stumbling blocks has been the so-called one-stop-shop for businesses and citizens in each member state in which authorities will handle citizens’ complaints about any breach of the rules. There are just as many ideas on how to run it as there are EU member states.

You must be notified of cookies and data breaches

The Directive on Privacy and Electronic communications (ePrivacy Directive) ensures that all communications over public networks maintain a high level of privacy. For example, this directive requires website owners marketing online to EU citizens to obtain consent from users, via some kind of opt-in, before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information. (See below for information on managing your cookies.)

If your data is stolen, the ePrivacy Directive states that you should be notified. That’s good because data theft can result in identity theft or fraud, damage to your reputation, loss of control over your personal data or a loss of confidentiality.

However, this fall, the rules changed slightly and now businesses don’t have to notify consumers that their personal data has been lost or stolen if the data has been encrypted. The ministers figure that the business has “appropriate technological protection measures” to protect the data that has been lost or stolen from being accessed by people not authorized to see it.

Viewing and managing your cookies

For those of you not familiar with the term, cookies are small files stored in your browser that contain information about your visit to a web page. They help tailor your online shopping experiences by doing things such as recording items in your shopping cart, they also recommend products based on your interests, allow auto-log in and compile browsing histories.

In most modern browsers, you can control cookie settings. The options include viewing stored cookies, controlling which sites you accept cookies from, and setting how long they may be stored and used.

Chrome

  1. 1. Open the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the Chrome browser, select Settings.
  2. 2. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.
  3. 3. In the Privacy section, open the button that says Content settings.
  4. 4. Under Cookies, you check or uncheck the options to manage the settings.
  5. 5. To see individual cookies, click All cookies and site data.
  6. 6. To remove cookies, hover the mouse over the entry. Click the X to delete.
  7. 7. To delete all cookies, click Remove all.

Firefox

For instructions to clear cookies in Firefox, please visit Mozilla’s support page.

Chrome

For instructions on clearing and managing cookies in Internet Explorer, please search Microsoft help for your version of IE. Here’s general information.

January 28th, 2015

Infographic: Privacy tips for business

Privacy plays a growing part in customer buying decisions. With every data breach, trust is eroded further.

Privacy and security are intertwined when it comes to our individual information. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of their personal data, so that means that businesses have to step up and do a better job of securing that data. Identity theft is the #1 fear of consumers, but for your business the risk is loss of trust and brand damage.

Since trust is the core of any transaction it’s important to know how privacy factors into your customer’s buying decisions. Research shows that almost 40% of consumers made buying decisions based upon privacy. When looking at who these people are, it was found that these individuals are aged 46-65 and have the highest incomes. But don’t rely on the business of the younger generation to supplant that once trust is lost; 27% of millenials abandoned an online purchase in the past month due to privacy or security concerns.

To mark Data Privacy Day on January 28, the following Privacy is Good for Business tips were created by privacy experts in civil-society, non-profit, government and industry and aspire to help business address the public’s growing privacy concerns:

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  • If you collect it, protect it. Follow reasonable security measures to keep individuals’ personal information safe from inappropriate and unauthorized access.
  • Be open and honest about how you collect, use and share consumers’ personal information. Think about how the consumer may expect their data to be used.
  • Build trust by doing what you say you will do. Communicate clearly and concisely to the public about what privacy means to your organization and the steps you take to achieve and maintain privacy.
  • Create a culture of privacy in your organization. Explain to and educate employees about the importance and impact of protecting consumer and employee information as well as the role they play in keeping it safe.
  • Don’t count on your privacy notice as your only tool to educate consumers about your data practices.
  • Conduct due diligence and maintain oversight of partners and vendors. You are also responsible for how they collect and use personal information.
January 22nd, 2015

Do Not Disturb: How to disable messages, popups, and alerts in Avast

Make Avast quiet when you are playing games or giving presentations.

We know you love Avast, but when you are giving a presentation to the big boss, or concentrating on playing an important game, it may not be the best time for a popup that says your computer is running slowly to appear. That’s why we made it easy for you to silence Avast.

Avast silent/gaming mode for presentations

This is NOT a good time for an Avast notification to appear. Learn how to silence Avast when you need to.

Silent/gaming mode

Activate the Silent/gaming mode when don’t want to be interrupted. This will cause Avast to run in silent mode when a full-screen application is running. This means your games or other full-screen applications will not be interrupted with annoying popups or other messages.

Turn this mode on quickly by clicking on the orange Avast icon located in your computer’s system tray. Right-click on the Avast icon and a short menu will appear. Click on Silent/gaming mode to turn it on.

You can also access this option within the main user interface. Go to Settings>General and check the box for Silent/gaming mode. This will disable messages, popups, and alerts in Avast.

Avast sounds

Change your Avast settings in the user interface

Turn off sounds

Silence notifications: Open the Avast user interface. Click Settings>General>Sounds and uncheck the Enable Avast sounds box. You can also uncheck the Voiceovers within the Sounds settings.

Choose the notifications you want to silence: Avast has six “events” that have notifications associated with them.. These events are Threat detected, Suspicious item detected (we suggest you keep these two on), Potentially unwanted program (PUP) detected, Scan complete, Automatic update, and Firewall query. You have the option to uncheck these boxes as well.

Turn off popups

Occasionally, we offer our users great products like GrimeFighter but we understand if you don’t need to see the notifications anymore. Our customers who have a paid-for version of Avast, have an option for you to turn those off completely. Read more…

Categories: General, How to Tags: , ,
January 19th, 2015

An old threat is back: Ramsonware CryptoWall 3.0. Get Avast for protection.

The nightmare is back! Your security could be seriously compromised if you do not act now. Install and update your Avast for PC before is too late. The original version of CryptoWall was discovered in November 2013, but a new and improved variant of the CryptoWall ransomware starts to infect computers all over the world last days. It’s the CryptoWall 3.0. Some sources estimate that it has already infected over 700,000 computers up to version 2.0.

Avast detects and blocks ransomware

Avast Software Updater can help identify software that needs to be updated.

CryptoWall is a malware that encrypts certain files in your computer (and secure delete the original ones) and, once activated, demands a fine around $500 as a ransom to provide the decryption key. You’re asked to pay in digital Bitcoins in about 170 hours (almost a full week). After that period, the fee is raised to $1000.

You could be asking why haven’t the authorities blocked the financial funding of them? They use unique wallet ID for each victim into their own TOR anonymity servers. For the user to be able to pay the ransom, he needs to use a TOR-like connection called Web-to-TOR. Each TOR gateway redirects the victim to the same web page with the payment instructions. The commands and communication control is now done using Invisible Internet Project (I2P) instead of Tor.

Infection could reach you in various ways. The most common is as a phishing attack, but it also comes in email attachments and PDF files. The malware kit also abuses various vulnerabilities in unpatched – read non up-to-date – Flash, Java, browsers and other applications to drop the CryptoWall ransomware.

How Avast prevents the infection

1. Avast Antispam and antiphishing protection prevents some vectors distribution.

2. Virus signature block all known ransomwares versions. Remember that Avast automatic streaming updates releases hundreds of daily updates for virus definitions.

3. Community IQ intelligence and sensors of our more than 220 million users that detects malware behavior all over the world. See how it works in this YouTube video.

4. Keeping your software updated is another security measure that prevents the exploit of their vulnerabilities. Learn how Avast Software Updater can help you with this job.

What more can I do?

Avast also helps in prevention of this disaster through its Avast Backup that allows you to keep all your important files in a secure and encrypted way. We also recommend local backup, as the new malware could also attack other drives and even cloud storage. Did you know that Avast Backup also performs local copies of the files? You can enable it at Settings > Options > Local backup, and configure the backup location (better an external drive) and also versioning of the files. Remember to disconnect the external drive from the computer (and the network) to prevent infection of the backups by CryptoWall and further encryption of the files.

Avast Software’s security applications for PC, Mac, and Android are trusted by more than 200-million people and businesses. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

January 18th, 2015

Your video guide to Avast 2015 features

Only four and half minutes of your time, and you’ll know the highlights of Avast 2015.

 

Avast 2015 is very easy to use, and many people just install it and let it do its job silently in the background. We designed it that way, but for those of you who want to know more about the features of Avast, we created a video guide to help you get the most out of your security protection.

The core of Avast Antivirus is real-time active protection comprised of the Web, Mail, and File System Shields. These can be accessed from the user interface. Open Settings and go to Active protection.

Avast 2015 includes our new, unique Home Network Security (HSN) which scans for home router security problems. Avast is the only security company to offer a tool to help you secure this neglected area.

To save you time, Avast 2015 has an efficient 4-in-1 Smart Scan which combines scans for malware and HSN’s router vulnerabilities, missing software updates and patches with Software Updater, and performance issues with GrimeFighter. GrimeFighter requires a separate license to fully optimize your PC.

January 12th, 2015

Lizard Squad hackers use unsecured home routers in DDoS attacks

This Lizard is out to get your home router.

This Lizard is out to get your home router.

Your home router could be part of a network used to knock sites like Sony PlayStation network offline.

During Christmas we reported that a hacker group calling themselves the Lizard Squad, took responsibility for ruining the day for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox users by taking the gaming networks offline. This and previous attacks, which included a bomb threat directed at an American Airlines flight with Sony Entertainment president John Smedley on board, have been revealed to be a marketing campaign to advertise a new product available for rent to anyone who wants to cause a Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack to the target of their choice.

I’m not a hacker. Why should I care?

You may not be a hacker, but the power for this service could be coming from your home office! Security blogger, Brian Krebs, whose own site was attacked, found out that the network of infected devices that powers the Product-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (that’s because Lizard Squad gleefully thanked Brian for the publicity on their Twitter account) is made up mostly of compromised home routers. On that same Twitter account, Lizard Squad said that they are using 250-500k infected routers.

These are the devices in everyone’s home that we warned you about in our blog, Your home network is at risk of cybersecurity attacks. Most people neglect the security of these devices by using the default user name and password that comes from the manufacturer out-of-the-box.

Our research determined that nearly 80% of all home routers in use today are thinly protected by common, easily hacked passwords, making routers an easy entry point to the home network for hackers,” said Avast Software’s CEO, Vincent Steckler.

Lizard Squad has just proven that point.

Today’s router security situation is very reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s, with lax attitudes towards security combined with new vulnerabilities being discovered every day creating an easily exploitable environment, “ Steckler said. “The main difference is people have much more personal information stored on their devices today than they did back then. Consumers need strong yet simple-to-use tools that can prevent attacks before they happen.”

How to protect your home router

Start by scanning you home network with Avast’s Home Network Security Solution.

Open the Avast user interface, click Scan from the menu on the left, then choose Scan for network threats. Avast will take a look at your router and report back any issues. In most cases, if there is an issue to be addressed, then it will direct you to your router manufacturer’s website.

The Home Network Security Solution is available in free and paid versions of Avast 2015. Get it at www.avast.com.

For more steps you can take to protect your home router, please see our blog post, 12 ways to boost your router’s security.