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December 1st, 2014

5 Avast Account features that you need to know about

Many Avast users have protected their family member’s computers and mobile devices with Avast Antivirus products. In order to help you manage everyone’s security, our development team created a portal called the MyAvast Account. Our blog, Keep track of your family’s devices using your Avast Account, explains the basics.

Hopefully, you have already looked at your account. If not, click here to do so, https://my.avast.com. Now I’ll point out some important features that you will find useful.

The top 5 features in your Avast Account

  1. 1. The whole point of the MyAvast Account is to manage multiple devices from a single portal.  If you have registered Avast products on multiple devices using multiple email addresses, you can pair these devices and email addresses to your account which lets you see all licenses in one place. You’ll see the license validity and expiration date for each device.

If you get a new device this CyberMonday and want to remove an old one, then you can easily remove the old device from the account. Go to the Device overview page, choose Settings, and delete from the account.

  1. 2. For all you Android smartphone users out there, the most important feature is our Avast Anti-Theft  mobile security application. We improved the design, and also completely revised and simplified the commands.
  2. To see what I am describing, log into your account > Go to Devices > Click on your smart phone. In this screen you can see the most important commands that allow you to control your device. With one click you can locate your device, mark your device as lost, inform us and send notifications to your “safe” friend, transfer all calls and SMS to a new number, turn the siren on a lost device, or lock the device remotely. If you have Avast Mobile Premium, then you will have additional commands at your disposal. If you suspect your phone has been stolen, you can take a picture of the thief or record audio in addition to other cool options.
  3. Mobile security commands
  4. 3. Avast Awards is a redesigned and interactive system where you earn free Avast products by recommending Avast to your friends. For sharing Avast using your own personalized link, carrying out certain tasks, and using our products you will be rewarded Karma points and Badges. For now, you can obtain a license for Avast Internet Security and badges for participating in our community or being a long-term Avast user. In the future, we may offer other premium products, so check back every once in a while.
  5. badges1
  6. 4. Stay informed with our News widget (on the main account page on the bottom right), where you will see news from our blog and Facebook feed. This provides a great overview of security and privacy news. We invite you to follow and Friend us.
  7. 5. For those of you who like nice design, you will appreciate the updated Metro style of the portal, and your choice of themes. Visit Settings (the gear icon in the top right corner) and apply the one you like best.themes

social media securitySocial Media Security is an additional feature that is in beta now. We wrote about it this past summer in the blog, New avast! Account with Facebook Security is here. Join Beta testing.

This feature helps you identify Facebook posts and photos that pose a threat to your privacy, security, and reputation. In addition to your own Facebook profile, we also monitor your friends network to keep you safe and secure.

Our developers and product managers will continue to work on improvements to the MyAvast Account. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, do not hesitate to participate in the dedicated Avast forum board. We look forward to your feedback!

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

 

Categories: General Tags: ,
November 27th, 2014

Replace pre-installed antivirus on your Black Friday laptop

Black Friday laptop

Most people replace pre-installed antivirus programs with Avast Antivirus.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday abound with deals on laptops. When you purchase a new laptop one of the first things you should do is make sure that it is secure with your choice of antivirus protection.

You will probably find that antivirus is already pre-installed, for example, Windows Defender is built into devices that use Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Among Windows 7 users, Microsoft Security Essentials is on most devices. When users change antivirus protection, the top product enabled is, you guessed it, Avast Free Antivirus.

You should replace Microsoft Security Essentials

Initial praise for the software (MSE) has turned to disappointment and it’s now clear that a third-party antivirus remains the best pick even for users who don’t want to pay,

wrote Matt Smith in a makeuseof.com article called Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus. Mr. Smith recommends Avast Free Antivirus.

Same goes for Windows Defender.

If you’re relying solely on Windows Defender for your antivirus protection, you’re anything but defended,

wrote Jill Scharr for Tom’s Guide.

Out with the old, in with the new

We strongly recommend to uninstall previously installed antivirus applications before installing Avast Antivirus on your computer. You can find a list of vendors, from A to Z, that provide a special removal tool to uninstall their antivirus software on our FAQ page. We recommend you follow their instructions before proceeding with the uninstallation.

Avast is most trusted worldwide

For the second year, Avast Free Antivirus has taken first place in the Worldwide Antivirus Product Market Share as measured by OPSWAT. With 220 million people, mobile devices, and computers protected by our security applications, Avast is the most trusted mobile and PC security in the world.

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

November 24th, 2014

Cybercriminals take advantage of relaxed security measures during Black Friday

Cybercrooks believe that their attacks are more likely to succeed during the holiday shopping season.

 

BlackFriday-crook

Retailers have been “leaking” special Black Friday deals since before Buffalo got covered in a snow wall, and that flurry of sales results in the annual spike that carries them through the rest of the year. But analysts who study these things warn that cybercrooks are riding the sales wave with a surge in attacks due to relaxed security measures.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Gartner Inc’s vice president Avivah Litan,

Retail transaction volume increases by 50% during the holidays and retailers don’t want to stop to slow the pace of business, so they relax fraud controls to some degree. Criminals know they’re likely to get away with more.

Yikes! That’s not good news for consumers, especially since we are swiping our credit and debit cards at places like Target, The Home Depot, and Neiman Marcus – all victims of point-of-sale terminal hacks this year. Experts have advised retailers to take action, like upgrading terminals with new technology and enabling chip embedded cards, but all that takes time to implement.

It’s not much better online. Attacks during last holiday shopping season, November 14, 2013 through January 9, 2014 increased by 264% over the weeks prior to that time, says security company Imperva.The reason?

Believe Macy's

Cybercrooks believe in their ability to succeed this time of year.

Cybercrooks believe that retail applications are more vulnerable during this time of the year, and that attacks are more likely to succeed. Isn’t that what the Gartner analyst said about brick-and-mortar retailers?

The reasoning is similar – in order not to annoy shoppers who can go elsewhere, online retailers relax strict security measures such as step-up authentication and Captcha. Add that easy check-out to all those new Black Friday and CyberMonday quick campaign webpages, (“bad design, unsafe coding, and usage of insecure third-party libraries”) and cybercrooks get an early Christmas present in the form of your credit card number and possible stolen identity.

How to protect yourself during Black Friday

  • Stay home on Thursday Celebrate Thanksgiving with your family. That way you can safely eat too much and watch football and movies while avoiding the crazed crowds trying to jump the gun on Black FRIDAY sales.
  • In God We Trust, All Others Use Cash Use cash or a credit card when paying for your purchases. With a credit card, you can dispute charges, if your financial data falls into the hands of cybercrooks.
  • Change your passwords. Please don’t use the same password for online shopping sites that you use for your bank. When you do it’s like wrapping it in fancy paper and a bow – it’s that easy for a cybercrook to get to.
  • Regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements to make sure all the transactions are legitimate. Monitor your credit report for any changes.

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

 

November 23rd, 2014

The top three questions the Avast Mobile Security team got asked at CARTES

It was great to see so many people who recognize the Avast brand and use our products at CARTES. We would like to say once more: Thank you so much! Every couple of minutes, we had a friendly visit from some of our fans and we always tried to talk to them for a while. Sometimes we got some interesting questions. We would like to share those that occurred the most.

1. Are you guys from the Netherlands?

No. :) Despite the orange color all over the place, Avast is a Prague- (that beautiful city in the Czech Republic that you read about in the travel magazines) based company with offices all over the world including Silicon Valley, Austin, Munich, and Hong Kong.

prague castle

A view of the beautiful Prague castle.

2. How do you make money if your products are free?

In general, we monetize our products both directly (via premium subscriptions or paid product versions) and indirectly (via ads in our applications, or partnerships / referrals, i.e.). On mobile, we are not making much money these days, compared to our desktop products. However, mobile apps are a great part of our product ecosystem. They help us build the brand and engage with people who use them. Our mobile products solve real problems and make the world a better, more secure place. In the future, we see a good potential to monetize mobile applications indirectly, due to our multi-million user base.

3. Why are you a better desktop Antivirus than XYZ?

“Better” is never a good word when talking about competition with modesty and respect. We have some compelling features in our Antivirus products. Check out the Home Network Security, SafeZone or process virtualization in our Avast 2015 version. Or you can try the Free version for yourself and compare our product with the Antivirus you have at the moment.

Did you like the article? Follow the author at @joshis_tweets.

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

November 21st, 2014

How to change your router DNS settings and avoid hijacking

If your home router is hacked, you have a serious situation on your hands.

When an Avast Home Network Security scan finds that your router is already compromised, this notification will appear.

Your WiFi network is not secured

Your WiFi network is not secured

This means that the router has been hacked and the DNS settings have been modified to serve hacked contents to a cyberthief. This is a pretty serious situation. When hackers exploit router vulnerabilities, gain access to it, and modify the DNS servers settings, all your Internet traffic can be forwarded to rogue servers. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack.

The DNS or Domain Name System, is the “phone book” of the Internet, and an IP address is what’s listed in the book. DNS names computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It translates easily memorized domain names, for instance, www.example.com, to the unique numerical IP addresses needed to locate the service worldwide.

What happens when your router is hacked?

Instead of connecting to a clean site or service, when your router is hacked, you’ll visit a rogue and hacked one. It’s obvious that your privacy will be violated, and your banking information could be captured – by the man-in-the-middle mentioned above. Even the usually secure SSL, the HTTPS protocol we have all been instructed to look for to indicate a secure site, won’t assure you’re protected. Instead, you’ll be proxied through malicious servers and the encrypted connection is cut in the middle. This illustration shows what happens.

 

Your WiFi network is not secured

Source: http://www.cert.pl//news/8019/langswitch_lang/en

This could also happen if your router is set to default/weak/factory password. So, the worst scenario of hacking is not that uncommon. See the latest news about webcams being hacked because of the owner’s using default passwords. Vincent Steckler, CEO of Avast, told VentureBeat that consumers are notorious for not updating default passwords, just as I’m talking about here. Some 63 percent of wireless routers run with default passwords, says Steckler.

The problem goes further than just one user or one device. The malicious effects can spread to all users in the local network, regardless of the operating system used.

How to protect ourselves against this plague?

First, scan your home network with Avast Home Network Security to verify if your device is compromised. If Avast alerts you, it’s already too late. You’ve already been compromised. You need to manually check the DNS servers in the router configuration.

By default, your router uses DNS servers automatically acquired from your Internet provider. All the devices on your network — PCs, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and anything else connected to the network — get their DNS server from the router. You can change the DNS server on your router, therefore changing every other device on your network.

There are several good articles on the Internet about changing your DNS. Here’s one from howtogeek.com.

You also need to pay attention to your browser address bar. The HTTPS indicator should be there all the time. If it comes and goes, you may have already been compromised. In these cases, or for any other strange symptom you could be experiencing: Disable your Internet connection immediately and change the router username and password to unique ones (consult the router manual for instructions).

But, be warned, neither of these will be enough because if the router is vulnerable, it will take the attacker no time to change the settings back. Updating the router firmware or even changing it completely – as described in previous article – will be necessary.

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

 

 

November 21st, 2014

Avast apps make mobile payments safer

The Avast Mobile Security team showcased secure solutions for payment, identification and mobility at the CARTES conference.

The Avast Mobile team had a couple of busy days in November – we participated at CARTES Secure Connexions 2014 and showcased some of our best mobile apps in the “Mobile payments” pavilion. In our traditional and authentic guerrilla style, we drove a truck to Paris, we built the stand ourselves (and almost got killed dismantling it the last day), and we greeted our friends and product users in person, with no external hostesses; only Avast Mobile crew members equipped with mint candies, product fliers, and an unlimited dose of enthusiasm. :-)

CARTES 1

You may ask yourself, what was my mobile antivirus provider doing at CARTES, a global event for the digital security industry?

Because of the experience the Inmite acquisition brought to Avast Mobile, the Avast team knows a thing or two about mobile payments security, and we believe we can bring additional value to this topic with our products.

Mobile payment security starts and ends with the customer

While there are many techniques app makers or payment institutions such as a banks use to secure their mobile applications, recent attacks show that the weakest part of the chain are end clients – in other words – you and me. Face it, most people tend to underestimate potential threats, they fall for phishing attacks or attacks by social engineering, they connect to insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots, and they know in most cases, that banks will handle possible issues they have gracefully. In many cases, banks will even refund complete financial loss in order to keep their reputation high. The value Avast can bring to the table is the fact that most of our solutions are oriented towards the end users and their devices – we help where the additional help is needed.

airbondSecuring your mobile device better is simple

At CARTES, we presented three products for mobile:

This selection of products was not random. Each of the products protect people and their payments at different “stages”.

AIR BOND is our patent pending HW authentication token based on Bluetooth Low Energy. It wirelessly communicates with your smartphone or tablet and co-signs your transactions before they are sent to the server. It requires no special effort, like rewriting a numeric code or putting an NFC tag close to your iPhone (that does not support NFC this way anyway ;-). )You can use your mobile banking or payment app as long as your AIR BOND is nearby. If you lose your phone or somebody steals it, your banking is instantly safe – proximity to the AIR BOND device is required in order to execute transactions (all of them or only some of them depend on AIR BOND deployment type at each individual bank).

Read more…

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November 19th, 2014

Keep track of your family’s devices using your Avast Account

The average US family owns four mobile devices, plus Internet-connected computers and other devices. Your Avast Account helps you manage their security.

Avast Account screenshot

Manage all your devices with a free Avast Account.

Keeping your security software up-to-date on all of these devices can quickly get confusing, and with today’s risks you want to make sure everything has adequate protection. Your Avast Account can simplify that task greatly.

Here’s what you get with an Avast account

Management made easy

  • Register any Avast free product which you have installed and which requires registration.
  • Manage multiple Avast-protected devices (PC, smartphone, tablet) from one place.
  • Remotely control Android mobile devices with Avast Mobile Security and Avast Anti-Theft installed. This is especially useful in case of loss or theft of the device .

Information at your fingertips

You can find information about your connected devices.

  • License status
  • Expiration date
  • Basic statistics
  • Version of virus signature database
  • Logs of activities, and more

Earn Avast Reward points for free stuff

You can generate your own special Avast Free Antivirus link to give to your family members and friends. When they download their own protection using your link, you collect “Karma” points to earn a free copy of Avast Internet Security. In your Avast Account, you can see how many points you have, earn badges and even see how you’re doing compared to other users.

Give Avast feedback

We provide links to the Avast Community Forum where you can ask questions of our experienced “evangelists,” and the Feedback page, where you can give suggestions, report a problem, or just say thanks.

Secure your Facebook profile

You can secure your Facebook profile using Avast Social Media Security. We help you navigate thorough the frequently changing security and privacy settings in Facebook. In the future we plan to add security profiles on other social networks.

How do I get an Avast Account?

New registrations of Avast Free Antivirus will automatically create an Avast Account and connect your device automatically. Visit https://my.avast.com or click Account in the Avast user interface. Use of the Avast Account for accessing other Avast services is completely optional.

NOTE: It’s especially useful to connect any mobile devices that have Avast Mobile Security installed because it gives you remote control over your device if the device is stolen. These remote control features have not yet been implemented for PC or Mac devices, therefore if you are not interested in the activity log or other information, you don’t have to connect your device to your Avast Account at all.

When you do connect your device, please be patient because of the large amount of data we have to process; the device status isn’t updated in real-time. It could take up to a half hour before the actual security status and other device information appears on the devices page, so check again later.

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

Categories: General, How to Tags: , , ,
November 13th, 2014

How to upgrade your router with the latest firmware or replace it completely

It’s difficult to accept that we made an unwise purchase or even that a piece of technology has gone obsolete. But when it comes to the security of your home network, it’s time to face up to it.

Last February, Craig Young, a researcher at security firm Tripwire, published research showing that 80% of the 25 best-selling small office/home office (SOHO) wireless router models on Amazon had vulnerabilities. Because some routers, in fact, a lot of them, have so many non-patched vulnerabilities, the easiest way to secure your home network is to replace the router completely with a secure model.

Your WiFi network is not secured

Your WiFi network is not secured

 

How to update your router

But let’s not spend your money yet. Only four of the reported vulnerabilities were completely new, and many have been patched in later models, so you should first look for firmware updates. Some conscious manufactures release updates for their hardware controls and, if applied, could solve all (or at least some) known vulnerabilities.

Routers do not perform automatic updates, so the process requires appropriate patches to be manually downloaded and installed. Avast 2015 includes a Home Network Security scanner that can help you determine what needs to be done, explain why, and can direct you to the router manufacturer’s website.

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.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus Router Attack

If you’re not convinced that router attacks are something to be concerned about, then think back on the attack from earlier this year. Attackers remotely altered DNS configurations for more than 300,000 small office/home office (SOHO) routers, subsequently opening up victims to a host of compromises

Among several vulnerabilities around, there is one that is quite common. It’s called ROM-0 and allows the attacker to easily gain control of the whole router and, subsequently, your Internet connection. In short, the attacker could request ROM-0 through HTTP (i.e. http://192.168.1.1/ROM-0) and then he can download all the important and secret data stored in your router: Your ADSL login/password combination, WIFI password and basically all your configuration data.

How to avoid attackers from downloading your Rom-0 configuration file and manipulating your router?

It’s simple (if you are comfortable around computers. Ask a techie to help you, if you’re not):

  • Forward port 80 on the router to a non-used IP address on your network.
  • Enter your router configuration and go to “Port forwarding” configuration.
  • Send all http traffic, of all protocols, to star and end port 80 in a non-used local IP address (something like 192.168.0.xxx, where xxx would be a non-used IP).

There are free guides of “port forwarding” for quite a lot of routers. Check your model here.

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

 

 

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November 7th, 2014

Home Depot discloses that 53 million customer email addresses were stolen

Home-Depot-ApronThe Home Depot security breach last spring has gotten worse. In addition to the 56 million credit-card accounts that were compromised, around 53 million customer email addresses were also taken, according to a statement from Home Depot about the breach investigation. Home Depot assures its customers that no passwords, payment card information like debit card PIN numbers, or other “sensitive” information was stolen.

The breach occurred when cybercrooks stole a third-party vendor’s user name and password to enter their network in April 2014. The hackers then deployed unique, custom-built malware on Home Depot’s self-checkout registers in the United States and Canada.

The company said that as of September 18, the malware had been eliminated from the network.

Request your free identity protection

The Home Depot is notifying affected customers and still offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a credit or debit card at one of its 2,266 retail stores beginning in April. Customers who wish to take advantage of these services should visit homedepot.allclearid.com or call 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (466-3337).

The Fallout

Home Depot said that customers should be on guard against phishing scams, which are designed to trick customers into providing personal information in response to phony emails.

  • Review your credit card statements carefully and call your bank if you see any suspicious transactions.
  • Be aware of phone calls or emails that appear to offer you identity theft protection but are truly phishing schemes designed to steal your information. Always go directly to The Home Depot’s website or to the AllClear ID website, or call Equifax for information rather than clicking on links in emails.

Get more information from Home Depot’s Facebook page.

 

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

 

November 5th, 2014

Your home network is at risk of cybersecurity attacks

Router vulnerabilities and weak passwords allow cybercrooks easy access to your home network.

Avast Home Netowrk Security scan

Your router is a weak link in your home’s network security.

That little router box provided by your ISP or that you bought at Radio Shack and forgot about, is a weak link in your Internet-connected household. Many homes in the United States use a wireless router to connect multiple devices, but unsecured routers can create an easy access point for hackers.

Think for a second – do you know what your wifi router password is? Did you know that your wireless router even has a password? If you are not sure, you are not alone.

What do you have to lose?

Only everything on your computer! That includes banking or financial information, personal information, browsing history, and photos.

Why is this an issue now?

”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, ” said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. “The main difference is people have much more personal information stored on their devices today than they did back then.”

We did a study of this issue and found that 4 out of 5 Internet-connected households in the U.S. are at risk of getting attacked through their wireless router. And 16 out of 100 surveyed said they have already been victimized by hackers.

The problem – PASSWORDS.

Avast found that more than half of all routers are poorly protected by default or easily-hacked password combinations. When you check yours, this could be what you find:

  • admin/admin
  • admin/password
  • admin/<no-password>

The 25% of consumers we surveyed that are using a “unique” password use their address, name, phone number, street name, or other easily-guessed terms as their passwords. Not too much better…

What is the risk?

Avast Home Network Security

Avast Home Network Security scans your network for vulnerabilities.

One of the biggest risks on any wifi network is DNS hijacking. This happens when malware gets in your unprotected router and sneakily redirects you from a known site, such as your bank’s website, to a fake site that looks just like the real thing. When you log in, cyberthieves capture your login credentials and then use them to access the real site. Scary stuff.

Avast 2015 reacts to home network vulnerabilities

To address these issues, Avast recently introduced Avast 2015, which includes the world’s first Home Network Security Solution that protects users from home network threats including DNS hijacking and weak passwords.

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. Get it at www.avast.com.

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