Protecting over 230 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus

Archive

Archive for the ‘General’ Category
May 12th, 2015

5 questions with: Tomáš Heřmanský (Product Manager)

Tomáš Heřmanský

Tomáš joined Avast in March 2014 as a Product Manager for Avast Mobile Security. Born in Čáslav, a small town in central Bohemia, he moved to Prague during high school with plans to study at the Police Academy of the Czech Republic. After a while, Tom decided he wanted to study and work in IT instead. After gaining experience while working at a successful Czech startup, taking on jobs as a freelancer and starting his own company focused on cloud document management, Tom joined Avast’s mobile team. In his free time, Tom enjoys climbing, cycling, writing and restoring his classic Škoda 1000 MB car.


 

1. What is Avast’s mobile team out to accomplish?

We’d like to become the most trusted mobile tools developer, allowing users to live their lives with their mobile devices safely and more easily.

2. Who or what helps you in coming up with new, creative ideas?

My colleagues are a huge inspiration to me. That’s one thing that I really enjoy about working at Avast – anyone and everyone can come up with new ideas to brainstorm. We are one big think tank. :)

3. What’s one thing that every user should know about his/her mobile device?

Users should be aware of the risks that mobile malware poses to their personal information and data. Although malware on mobile devices is less likely to break a user’s device than that of a PC, malicious apps can harvest and steal a lot of personal data. Even apps that aren’t malicious (often free apps) can access a lot of personal information. The more personal info that is shared, the more likely it is that a user’s privacy could become compromised.

4. What’s your favorite security tip?

Make sure to be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Packet sniffing, or the monitoring of data traveling over a network, can be used to steal information and is very easy for hackers to carry out. It’s in your best interest to use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to unsecured networks.

5. Name one goal you’ve set for yourself at Avast.

I’d like to see Avast Mobile Security (AMS) become the most popular app that provides users with a straightforward, user-friendly overview of app permissions. AMS is an extremely versatile app with lots of potential, and I envision it serving as a true “guarding angel” for users, protecting them against mobile malware and allowing them to become familiar with the apps they use on a daily basis.


 

Avast’s mobile team recently held the second Avast Mobile Internal Conference (AMIC) in Prague, where the entire team came together to keep one another in the loop about the company’s apps and products, team activities, and goals for the department’s future. A series of lectures and interactive activities encouraged synergy and collaboration between product teams. In addition to everything that was accomplished at AMIC, the mobile team still managed to have quite a bit of fun at the conference. We’d like to congratulate the mobile department on this successful and productive event!

 

 

May 6th, 2015

Support for older Avast versions will end

At the end of this month, Avast will end product enhancement support for older consumer versions of Avast Antivirus – we will not be ending security support for these products. Customers will continue to receive threat updates and will continue to be fully protected. The versions are 8.0.1497 and lower of the following products: Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Pro Antivirus, Avast Internet Security, and Avast Premier.

People using older versions will continue to receive virus definition updates and be protected. However, we recommend everyone to upgrade to the new version to benefit from better detection rates and new features.

Avast boxshots

Update to Avast 2015 for maximum protection.

A good antivirus program is a necessity to protect your Windows PC from malware attacks, to keep your computer running smoothly, and to protect your online identity and personal data. Over the past 3 years, Avast engineers have improved our database of known virus definitions, the mechanism in which  zero- day and widespread malware are detected, and the frequency of streaming updates sent to our customers. Avast 2015, with its unique Home Network Security feature which scans your home network for potential risks, is our best performing security product yet.

After May 31st, 2015, Avast will no longer provide patches or technical support for versions 8.0.1497 and lower. Please update to the latest version so you can benefit from the enhanced features and higher detection rates that protect your computer from malicious attacks. This update is also recommended because the latest version is compatible with Windows 10.

If you are running an older version of Avast, you can easily move to the latest version of Avast 2015.

How to check for the latest version and do a program update

If you need to update later, here’s a quick way to do it.

  • Right click on the orange Avast ball icon in the system tray.
  • Select Update from the menu and then click Program.

The update screen in the Avast user interface shows you the overall progress of the program update. When it’s done you will be asked to restart your computer. Click Yes to reboot immediately. Once the computer is restarted, information about the update may appear. If you are using a paid subscription, then your protection will be valid for the remaining period of your subscription.

 

Why to upgrade

  • Better detection rates
  • Easier technical support
  • We fixed bugs and problems that still might exist on your current version
  • Receive further program updates to ensure best protection
Av-Comparatives data

Avast 2015 has better detection rates than older versions. Update as soon as possible for maximum antivirus protection.

If you prefer an older version of Avast and require technical support, you will still receive virus definition updates and be protected, but our support team will ask you to update the product first before we can assist you.

 

May 1st, 2015

TGIF: Avast news wrap up for April 18 – May 1

The Avast bi weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.

Woman using smartphoneMost everyone knows their PC needs antivirus protection, but they don’t think about their smartphone. These days smartphones are just about as powerful and have as much or more personal information as our desktop PC at home. We answer the question do Android devices really need protection?

Avast finds porn clicker app named Dubsmash 2 on Google PlayThe answer is a resounding YES. The Avast Virus Lab gives us an example from a trusted download source, Google Play: A porn clicker app slipped into Google Play imitating the popular Dubsmash app. If we cannot completely rely on trusted app stores to weed out nasty apps, then it’s time to add an extra layer of security.

AV-Comparatives internet study 2015Once you decide that you do want to protect your Android device, you can be confident in Avast Mobile Security, Avast’s free security app available on Google Play. A survey by AV -Comparatives said that Avast was the #1 choice for mobile security in the entire world. No need to wait any longer to protect your smartphone or tablet.

newABSOne of the challenges with using a smartphone for so many activities, is that the battery gives out before we do. Our new free app Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi based smart profiles that can increase battery life by an average of 7 hours.

battery-saver-infographics-EN one sectionAvast Battery Saver has only been available for a month or so but already 200,000 customers have downloaded it from the Google Play Store. For Earth Day we highlighted battery saver users for their positive impact on the environment. Who knew that Avast Battery Saver would be so green? A cool infographic shows just how much they saved -  not only from their own battery -  but in energy costs too. Now Earth Day can be everyday!

office-workersSmall and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) run the risk of data breaches just like there Enterprise cousins. Luke Walling, the General Manager of Avast for Business, explains that the biggest threat to SMBs is not actually hackers sitting somewhere far away. The biggest threat to your SMB could be sitting in your office!

blog3-enSpeaking of Avast for Business, our new disruptive free security offering for SMBs has 75,000 new customers in just 2 months. If you have a start-up, a small business, if you work in a school or non-profit organization, then it’s time to stop paying for security protection.

Cybercrooks use lots of tricksOur researchers are constantly surprised by the creativity of malware authors. Recently, they found a new way cybercrooks trick people in giving up their banking information. It’s a crafty combination of spam email, social engineering, and a macro code embedded in an innocent looking Word document.

usb_hub_robotMost people have security protection on their computers. That’s great when there are things like the banking malware we wrote about. With all that great protection why is it that they don’t trust the warnings? The Avast Virus Lab explored why some people would rather be right than believe a malware warning.

Comments off
April 27th, 2015

Malware authors go a step further to access bank accounts

Malware authors like to play hide-and-seek. Hiding executable files inside PDFs and Microsoft Office documents then emailing them as attachments are nothing new, but sometimes one layer isn’t enough. This Avast Virus Lab analysis peels back the layers of a new threat.

layers-banking-malware

Malware authors continually surprise us with their creativity. In an effort to trick banking customers into revealing the login credentials for their online account, cycbercrooks are using the trust people have in Microsoft Office to make them execute banking malware on their own computers. Here’s how it works:

Typically, spam emails contain executable files that can harm a victim’s computer and steal private information. In the layered version, they have PDFs or Microsoft Office documents attached that contain a malicious executable file. We recently found an email that had an added layer and decided to analyze the email.

The email, disguised as a financially-related message from a legitimate company,  informed the recipient that an invoice was due and had a PDF file attached. Embedded inside the malicious PDF was a Microsoft Office document and simple java script that dropped and executed the DOC file.

pdf_jsInside the DOC file we found malicious macro code, which users must activate, as the code is disabled by Microsoft Office by default. The code obfuscates DOC files by creating new documents with unique methods names, variable names, and URLs, making it difficult to detect the malicious files.

 Macro_modules

When we analyzed the malicious macro code, we found some hints that helped us with our analysis. In this sample it was a function called MICHEL.

Functions

We already knew this function would open the URL with the malicious file, and when we found this function in one of the modules, we were able to find the download path.

Macro_downloader

The address is stored as a GUADALUPE variable. The URL is unique for each sample and leads to the download of a malicious PE file.

Macro_downloader_watch

The PE file would act as an information stealer, stealing login credentials from banking sites like

  • Santander, whose principal market is in the Northeastern United States
  • Ulster bank, based in Ireland
  • From Google accounts
  • Microsoft

How to protect yourself from banking malware

Our number 1 recommendation is keep your security software updated. Avast streams hundreds of updates every day to your devices, so you will stay protected. For example, the executable file downloaded by the malicious Microsoft Office document belongs to a banker family evolved from infamous Zeus. This variant is also known as a Dridex Botnet. At the time of writing this post, the botnet is still active, but the malware itself is inactive. Avast detects it as Win32: Pierre-A.

Clever cybercrooks use social engineering to manipulate their victims. Use extreme caution when opening emails related to your finances until you can verify the legitimacy.

Samples related to this analysis:

PDF virustotal

DOC virustotal

PE virustotal

Comments off
April 23rd, 2015

Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi-based smart profiles

Avast Battery Saver increases battery life by an average of 7 hours.

Avast Battery Saver increases battery life by an average of 7 hours.

We’ve recently told you about Avast Battery Saver, an application which saves your Android’s power without hassle. It optimizes phone settings such as Internet connectivity, screen brightness, and timeout according to your needs. We’d now like to announce an exciting new feature of the app: Wi-Fi-based smart power profiles. These profiles are activated automatically based on designated local Wi-Fi networks that are detected.  Users can now assign specific wireless networks to be used within their home or work smart profiles. Not only are Wi-Fi-based profiles more precise than GPS-based profiles, but they are also more efficient and require less energy to detect.

In contrast to other battery-saving 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.

“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.”

Avast Battery Saver significantly improves battery life, saving up to 20% on one charge — and it’s free from the Google Play Store.

New Wi-Fi-based profiles have been added to make the app’s convenient features significantly more efficient

 

  • Smart profiles activate automatically based on time, location, user-designated Wi-Fi networks 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 the following four profiles: Home, Work, Night, and Super-Saving Emergency Mode. You can easily access the list of profiles by clicking the Smart Profiles button on the app’s home screen. Avast Battery Saver is available for download in the Google Play Store.

Comments off
April 22nd, 2015

Avast highlights Battery Saver users for their positive impact on the environment

Today is Earth Day. It’s a day that people, organizations, corporations, and governments around the world demonstrate their commitment to protect the Earth and help advance a sustainable future. Every action, no matter how small, counts -  from eating less meat to recycling or composting to reducing your energy footprint; it all contributes to a cleaner, greener world now and in the future.

Avast users do their part to save the Earth

Since our minds are on all things green this Earth Day, we want to highlight a particular bunch of Avast customers. These Android users simply came to Avast to find a way to save some of their smartphone’s battery power. Little did they realize when they installed Avast Battery Saver on their Android device that together they were making a difference that even we were surprised about.

In the first month that Avast Battery Saver was available, 200,000 customers downloaded and actively used it on their Android phone or tablet. This infographic shows how that cumulative use added up to real energy savings.

Do your part for Earth Day, and save up to 20% battery power everyday! Install Avast Battery Saver for free from Google Play.

battery-saver-infographics-ENsm

Install Avast Battery Saver for free from Google Play.

Comments off
April 17th, 2015

TGIF: Avast news wrap-up for April 3 – 17

The Avast bi-weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.

house cleaning serviceSpring has sprung and it’s time to clean the dust and grime away after a long winter. In a departure from our regular security-oriented blog posts, we share 10 spring cleaning tips to combat grime. Don’t forget you can also clean your mobile devices! But you barely have to lift a finger because Avast GrimeFighter Safe Clean will remove the grime from your Android mobile devices with the touch of a button. If only window washing were so easy!

Screenshot_shieldsIndependent testing lab AV-TEST gave their coveted certification to our popular mobile security application, Avast Mobile Security. If you are still on the fence regarding protecting your Android smartphone then read How to find the best protection for your Android phone? Independent tests.

Don't forgetMany smartphone owners are more worried about losing their device then they are about becoming infected with malware. That’s why we created Avast Anti-Theft. Make sure you have the latest version of our free app so if your phone gets lost, you can track it via your My Avast account or using SMS notifications from your friend’s phone. Turned Android auto-updates off? Manually update Anti-Theft to stay protected. explains how you can use Avast Anti -Theft to recover your lost Android device.

Battery-Saver--1920x1200The mobile development team released a handy little app called Avast Battery Saver. This free app from Google Play helps you save some battery power. But not just any app can do it. The blog post Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps gives us the scoop on apps that promise to save battery life with task cleaning.

How to use Avast productsHow to extend the life of your phone’s battery is a question that we all have when the juice starts running out. The Avast Battery Saver app can help save about 20% but there are other ways to save battery life. We give you the tips and also share the future of smartphone batteries.

laptop using Wi-FiThe unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot at the local cafe can be bad news if thieves capture your login credentials. Android users with Avast Mobile Security have a built-in feature called Wi-Fi Security that warns them if any issues are detected. We are now seeking iOS beta testers for an app called Avast SecureMe that will include the same type of feature for iPhone users. Check our blog Wi-Fi Security feature foolproofs your network connections both in public and at home and scroll down to the bottom for the beta test sign up link.

Mousetrap with cheeseCybercrooks use a variety of attack vectors to reach their victims. Targeted spearphishing attacks use email messages to trick people into providing sensitive information while malicious apps for Android disguise themselves as innocent games. The scary ransomware locks up all your files and demands ransom for the key to unlock it – on both PCs and and mobile devices! Avast keeps you aware of cybercrooks latest tricks in Don’t take the bait: Beware of web attack techniques.

Comments off
April 16th, 2015

Wi-Fi Security feature foolproofs your network connections both in public and at home

Wi-Fi Security feature protects your network connections both in public and at home

Protect your Wi-Fi connections using Avast’s Wi-Fi Security feature.

Wi-Fi Security is a feature that is available for Android users within the Avast Mobile Security app as well as within Avast SecureMe for iOS. The 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.

While conducting user testing, we found that 22% of Avast Mobile Security users make use of the Wi-Fi Security feature, making it the 2nd most used feature within Avast Mobile Security.

“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 Jude McColgan.

Wi-Fi Security scan notifies you of any issues that are detected

From all the users who tested the Wi-Fi Security feature, more than 10% of the scans performed returned some kind of problem, such as the use of non-encrypted passwords or a router that is susceptible to security threats. The Wi-Fi Security feature currently performs checks for the following four key elements:

  • Non-encrypted, unsecured wireless networks
  • Networks with weak encryption
  • Weak router passwords
  • Routers with known security issues

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.

Wi-Fi Security offers two solutions to defend against malware threats

After the Wi-Fi Security feature has scanned your device, you’re presented with two options:

1) Launch Avast SecureLine VPN

2) Click the ‘How to resolve’ button

The first of the two options is meant to be used when you’re connecting to public networks – it’s ideal for cafes, airports, or hotels. On the contrary, users should opt to resolve detected threats if they’re browsing at home using their own devices. When taking this route, you’re redirected to the Avast website in order to set up your router in accordance with our guidelines.

Wi-Fi Security scan notifies you of any security issues that are detected  The feature offers users two solutions to any detected issues  We'll walk you through the process of securing your router on the Avast website

How do I get the Wi-Fi Security feature onto my device?

Avast SecureMe will soon be available in the iTunes Store. Before its widespread release, we will be conducting an invitation-only public beta test. Please sign up hereand the SecureMe team will contact you. If you have already downloaded Avast Mobile Security for Android then you’re all set to start using the Wi-Fi Security feature (you’ll find the “Wi-Fi Security” button on the app’s dashboard). For those yet to download Avast Mobile Security, it is available now from the Play Store.

April 13th, 2015

Avast Mobile Security: What’s not to love?

Mobile is attractive to cybercrooks

Our mobile phones are fantastic little devices — these days, they’re as powerful and can accomplish nearly all the things a regular computer can. While this is convenient for us, it also gives cybercrooks a relatively easy in-road to your private data and financial information. As 2015 rolls along, consumers continue to become more aware of mobile security options available to them, since they will increasingly use mobile apps that contain sensitive banking, financial, and personal health information.

Last year, more than 1 billion Android devices were shipped out to customers around the world. With Android winning the majority of the smartphone market, it offers a tempting target to malware authors. The average user is not especially concerned about being infected with a virus on their phone or tablet, but unfortunately, mobile malware is more than just a myth. Avast currently has more than one million samples of mobile malware in its database, with 2,850 new mobile threats being created every day by hackers.

Even if you think your chances of being infected with malware are low, we suggest that you go ahead and install a good mobile antivirus software. The great thing about Avast Mobile Security is that it’s free, so your investment is minimal – just a few minutes of setup and you’re ready to go.

Avast Mobile Security includes antivirus protection which scans your apps to see what they are doing, and a Web shield that scans URLs for malware or phishing. Malicious apps allow malware to enter your phone, so it’s good to have Avast on your side to detect when a bad one slips by on Google Play or another app store.

Avast Mobile Security is a top-rated mobile security app.

When taking a look at Avast Mobile Security’s features, it’s easy to see why it’s a top-rated mobile security app.

AV-TEST All-Stars

Avast Mobile Security did not commit any mistakes when tested with 1,932 legitimate apps from the Google Play Store and 981 legitimate apps from third party app stores. In addition, all this protection, according to AV-TEST, did not “impact the battery life”, or “slow down the device during normal usage”, and “does not generate too much traffic”.

To compare the choices of mobile antivirus software, you can look at the January 2015 “Mobile Security Test” conducted by the independent labs at AV-TEST. They looked at 31 popular Android security apps. Avast Mobile Security tops the list because it detected 100% of malicious apps without any impact on the battery life or slowing down of the device.

AMS Referral Program

In the latest update of Avast Mobile Security, we added a referral program, so you can recommend Avast Mobile Security to your friends and family. Not only can you recommend the best mobile security app available on Google Play, but you will be rewarded for doing so; you can earn up to three months of Avast Mobile Premium for free!

Here is how it works: For every five friends you send an SMS to recommending Avast, you get one free month of Avast Mobile Premium. Cool, huh?

There you have it — we’re huge fans of Avast Mobile Security, and we think you will be too. Download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.

 

April 8th, 2015

10 Spring Cleaning Tips to Combat Grime

After a long winter, it’s time to throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. But first, you need to do a good Spring Cleaning to wash away the grime that has accumulated. Here’s our favorite tips that go beyond the ordinary vacuum and dust routine. Choose the ones you want to do, and don’t forget that your mobile devices can use a good cleaning too (see tip #10)!

house cleaning service

Spring cleaning is not only for your house. You can clean grime from your mobile devices too!

 

Starting from the top down:

  1. 1. Dim light fixtures and dull lamps.  See the gleam again from your light fixtures. Get a soft microfiber cloth or duster and wipe away dust from ceiling lights, fans, and table lamps. I even use a vacuum attachment on lamp shades.
  2. 2. Greasy window treatments. Dirt, dust, grease, and bacteria collect on draperies, blinds, verticals, and shades. It is recommended to have your fabric window treatments dry-cleaned every 5-7 years. For metal or plastic blinds, you can take them down and wash them with dishwashing soap in a bucket of water or a solution of half water, half vinegar. Clean wooden blinds with a soft dry cloth wear a pair of cotton gloves or old socks and wipe the slats down.
  3. 3. Dusty bookshelves. A dusty old library sounds like a romantic notion, but it’s not good in your own home.Working from the top down, remove books and decorative objects from one shelf at a time, dust and return. Maybe you’ll find some old books that are ready to donate while you’re at it.

You walk by it every day:

  1. 4. Grimy doors, knobs, and handles. Grubby hands and jumping dogs can make your doors pretty awful looking, but because you are walking in and out, you don’t even see the grime. Give knobs and handles a quick wipe down with your favorite cleaner and some paper towels. Make your front door welcoming again by cleaning it inside and out with warm, soapy water. Dry it with a soft cloth.

How does that get there?!

  1. 5. Crumby kitchen drawers. I can’t ever figure out how the crumbs get in there; but spring cleaning is a good time to remove everything, wipe out the drawers and return only the items you still use.
  2. 6. Upholstered furniture. After a season of snuggling on the sofa with the dog and a good movie, stick your hand between the cushion and you’ll find old popcorn and plenty of dirt, sticks and leaves. I even found a dead lizard! Get out the vacuum attachments and vacuum upholstered furniture, including under and between cushions. Fluff and rotate cushions and pillows.
  3. 7. Underneath the rugs. You’ll be surprised what’s under there, so move the furniture off the rug and vacuum underneath. You may want to take your rug outside and give it a good old-fashioned beating too.
  4. 8. Underneath beds and behind furniture. Dust bunnies as big as the cat are hidden away, so make an extra effort to get the vacuum way up under there. Allergy sufferers have enough to deal with when the pollen comes, so help them out by minimizing dust.

You will feel cleaner, too. Trust me.

  1. 9. Scummy shower and tub walls.  Soap scum builds up after a season of long, hot showers. Choose your favorite cleaning product and leave it on for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing down the tiles.

This is the easiest one!

  1. 10. Spring Clean your Mobile Devices. We may not be great at washing windows and cleaning floors, but we know how to Spring Clean you Android device! Over time, unnecessary data, system caches, gallery thumbnails, installation files, and residual files can accumulate on your smartphone and tablet. You can regain performance and speed when you clean away all the grime with our free app, Avast GrimeFighter Safe Clean for Android.  Install Avast GrimeFighter free from Google Play.
Avast GrimeFighter for Android is a free app.

Install for Free!