The Avast bi-weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.
Spring 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!
Independent 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.
Many 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.
The 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 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.
The 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.
Cybercrooks 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.
If you have a smartphone, you are basically carrying around a pocket-sized laptop with a built-in camera and phone. Denser electronics have allowed for some powerful features to be built into a small package, but the weak link is the battery that runs it all. Battery energy has yet to match the quick growth of features on electronic devices.
Where does the juice go?
The power it takes to keep the device running all day depends upon what you do as well as your operating system, settings, and network (Wi-Fi, CDMA/GSM, 2G/3G/4G), but battery manufacturers say typical Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries provide up to ten hours talk time and up to 300 hours standby time.
Apps drain the battery. They sit in the background pinging servers, keeping track of where you are, and waiting for signals. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS use power looking for routers and satellites or other Bluetooth devices. The display uses lots of power too, especially at full brightness and if you do graphic-intensive activities like play games.
The environment also has an impact on Li-ion batteries. They suffer from stress when exposed to temperatures above 30°C/86°F. This high heat accelerates capacity loss which cannot be restored. Likewise, cold can decrease electricity flow, making your device sluggish.
When do I need to replace my battery?
Conventional wisdom says you’ll probably need a new phone battery each year. Factors like charge and discharge cycles, exposure to high temperatures, and aging decrease performance over time. Manufacturers say the life of most Li-on range between 300 and 500 cycles. Beyond this lifespan, batteries gradually diminish below 50 percent of the original capacity.
If you notice that your battery depletes rapidly, fails to hold a full charge, or feels abnormally warm then most likely it’s time to replace your phone’s battery.
How to save battery life?
- Use Avast Battery Saver. Our free app from Google Play optimizes phone settings using ‘Smart profiles’ which activate automatically based on time, location, and battery level. This saves up to 20% on one charge.
- Avoid full discharges and charge the battery more often between uses.
- Limit exposure to extreme temperatures, especially heat. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car. Room temperature is best.
- Lower your screen brightness. You can experiment, but usually anywhere above 50% is still readable. Some phones let you set it to auto-adjust.
- Turn off vibrate, ringtones, and the flash on your camera.
- Keep apps updated. The updates often improve battery usage by making the apps more efficient.
- When in areas with no cell coverage, turn the device to airplane mode or even turn it off. Otherwise, the phone will continue to search for a signal and that eats battery.
- Limit graphics-intensive activities like gaming and watching videos.
- Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS when you don’t need them.
Read more about Avast Battery Saver, Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps.
The future of smartphone batteries
The race for a safe, cheap, long-lasting, energy-rich battery is on. With electric cars, wearable tech, and the Internet of Things running our households, inventors, scientists and business people are searching for the breakthrough that will change batteries forever. The next-generation of batteries may well be built with silicon-based electrodes, take advantage of the oxygen we breathe to recharge power cells, or be organic.
Just last week, a super-fast (1 minute!) chargeable aluminum-ion battery with a high-charge storage capacity developed at Stanford University was announced. This low cost, durable (it was able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity) battery is not ready to be mass produced, but it holds promise.
Until that time comes though, used the Avast Battery Saver free app to extend the life of your phone’s battery.
The Avast biweekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last 2 weeks .
March Madness wraps up on April 6th. Even if you are traveling abroad, all you basketball fans can watch the game using a VPN service. Stay safe during March Madness using Avast SecureLine explains why you should always use VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, plus the added benefit of being able to watch geo-restricted content online.
Speaking of Wi-Fi – Just like in real estate, one of the most important things for your router is location, location, location. 5 things you can do to boost your Wi-Fi network shares helpful things that you can do yourself to make your Wi-Fi signal stronger within your home or business.
I run because I really REALLY like Beer!
Team Avast rocked it at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon.
World Backup Day was a good reminder that we need to take time to prevent data loss on our PCs and mobile phones. We discovered that one of the main reasons that people do not back up their data is because they are lazy.
The family IT expert knows how frustrating it can be to help someone solve a computer problem over the phone. Avast makes it easier with our Remote Assistance service. Now you can Help others with their computer issues using Avast Remote Assistance.
For those of you who like to DIY, you can learn How to use the Avast Virus Chest and what actions you can perform on files inside the chest.
With all the security improvements in browsers and operating systems, some people have questioned whether they still need antivirus protection. The business of malware has changed, but it can still be devastating if you are targeted. COO Ondrek Vlcek explains why Avast is not your father’s antivirus protection.
Avast Remote Assistance gives you access to any other computer with Avast installed.
Do your friends and family always call you when they run into a problem with their computer? Forget driving across town to help them out – if they are also Avast users, you can remotely access their computer.
How to use Avast Remote Assistance
If you are the IT expert, the person in need of help has to request assistance from you. Instruct them to open the Avast user interface. The easiest way to find it, is to go to one of the four tiles on the Overview screen, and click on the small menu icon in the top right corner. A drop-down selection will open. Choose Remote Assistance.
Next, tell them to click the blue Get Assistance button. Avast will generate a code that they need to provide to you. They can transfer the code to you by telephone, email, or chat. Make sure they understand that by sending the code they are granting you remote access to their computer. After you take control, this dialog disappears automatically.
When you receive the code, you will copy it into the box on your Avast’s Remote Assistance screen. Follow the directions to connect. When the connection is established, this dialog disappears and the remote desktop window appears.
To close the connection, press the Alt+Shift+End shortcut.
The Avast Virus Chest is a safe place to store potentially harmful files. These files are completely isolated from the rest of the operating system, meaning that they are not accessible for any outside process or software application. Files cannot be run while stored in the Virus Chest.
How to open the Avast Virus Chest
To open the Virus Chest, right click on Avast’s little orange ball icon in the system tray in the bottom right hand corner of your computer. Select Open Avast user interface from the menu. Another way to open the user interface is to double click the desktop icon.
From the main menu, select Scan, then Scan for viruses, and then click the Quarantine (Virus Chest) button at the bottom of the screen to open the Virus Chest window.
If Avast 2015 detects an infected or suspicious file, it will try to repair it at first. Unfortunately, some files cannot be repaired so Avast will try to move the file to the Virus Chest. If the infected file refuses to move to the Virus Chest, it will be automatically deleted from your computer.
How to set up quick access to the Virus Chest
For quick access to the Virus Chest, you can assign it to one of the four shortcut squares in the Avast user interface. To change which function you see, click on the drop-down menu icon in the top right hand corner of the square. There you will find a choice to place the Virus Chest right on the Overview of your Avast product.
Once you have the shortcut on the user interface, then simply click it to open the Virus Chest.
You can perform different actions while in the Virus Chest
You can perform different actions on the file inside the Virus Chest by right clicking. For example, you can
- Restore a file
- Exclude it from scanning
- Report it to the virus lab
- Delete the file
Once you have made the decision on which action to take, you will be asked to confirm your choice. When you have finished, close the Virus Chest to exit.
NOTE: Exercise extreme caution when restoring a file from the Virus Chest as it may still be infected. This is a high security risk action that requires advanced skills and experience handling infected files to avoid further potential infection of your computer.
How to manually move a file to the Virus Chest
If you need to move a file manually into the Virus Chest, right click anywhere on the contents table on the Virus Chest screen and select Add from the menu. A navigation dialog will open so all you need to do is locate the desired file that you want to move. Then click the Open button. The desired file will then appear in the contents table on the Virus Chest screen.
How to restore files from the Avast Virus Chest
When you open the Virus Chest, you will see a list of files contained within it. Right click on the file that you want to restore and the drop-down menu will appear. Select the Extract option, then select the location to save the file and click OK to close your window.
There are two noteworthy risks associated with owning a smartphone or a tablet. The first one is malware and the second is loss. You need to protect yourself against both, and these days there are plenty of choices for each. Some are free security apps and some are paid-for solutions.
Protect your smartphone or tablet with mobile antivirus software
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. I have read in some publications that the average users need not worry about being infected with a virus on their phone or tablet, but with 2,850 new mobile threats being created every day by hackers the odds are getting worse.
Even if you think your chances 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 done.
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.
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.
Protect your smartphone or tablet against loss or theft
Hackers aren’t the only risk – theft or loss of your device is more probable. In a famous stat from 2 years ago, Norton figured that 113 phones were lost or stolen every minute at the tune of $7 million a day! With all the personal and maybe even company data you have stored, losing your phone could be devastating.
You can protect your device and the data on it by following some easy tips and installing Avast Anti-theft. Avast Anti-theft is an app that you can download with Avast Mobile Security for free. The anti-theft feature is hidden from thieves and allows you to remotely control your smartphone using SMS or via your MyAvast account. You can back up personal data and track your phone or sound an alarm if it’s lost or stolen.
Avast Mobile Security includes many handy anti-theft features that can help you locate your stolen or lost phone. You can wipe it remotely, it informs you if your SIM card has been stolen, and even allows you take pictures of the person who took your phone. Another cool feature of Avast Anti-Theft is the siren. I decided to test the siren with my friend, who had just downloaded Avast Mobile Security, to see how it could affect a phone thief.
What does the Avast Anti-Theft siren do?
The Avast Anti-Theft siren was developed by the Avast mobile team to be activated when you either lose your phone (even if it is misplaced in your room and on silent) or if it gets stolen. The siren continuously and loudly says the following, by default, when activated: “This device has been lost or stolen!”. In the advanced settings of Avast Mobile Security you can customize what message the siren will sound, if you do not want to use the pre-set message. You can do this under “Select Sound File” or “Record Siren Sound”.
The siren is designed to frighten phone thieves, or to warn people surrounding the thief that the phone might be in the hands of the wrong person. When the first siren cycle began, we tried to turn down the volume. However, the alarm would begin again at the loudest possible volume. We then decided to see what would happen if we took out the battery, this stopped the siren of course, but as soon as we put the battery back in, the siren started to go off again. To say the least, we agreed that it would effectively frustrate and annoy a thief too.
How to turn off the siren
After a minute of testing the app, we decided to turn off the siren using one of these two possible methods:
MyAvast: You can control your phone remotely via your MyAvast account. In your MyAvast account you can keep track of all your devices that have Avast products installed on them. From within your MyAvast account you send numerous Anti-Theft commands to your phone, including activating and deactivating the Anti-Theft siren. Once you are logged into your MyAvast account click on the name of the mobile device you want to control and then click on the siren symbol. From there you can send a command to turn the siren on and off.
SMS command: Using the Avast PIN you set up when you downloaded Avast Mobile Security, you can send SMS commands to your phone to remotely control it. To turn the siren off, text your Avast PIN followed by “SIREN OFF” to your phone.
Have fun checking out Avast Mobile Security’s cool and handy Anti-Theft features, but, please, use caution when testing the siren
Question of the week: I use two-factor authentication when logging into my accounts to keep them safe, but what happens if I lose my phone? Can I still access my accounts?
Security-minded individuals know the benefits of using two-factor authentication to keep their online accounts safe. For those of you who are not familiar with it, two-factor authentication is a security process which uses a combination of two different components, like something that you know, a master password or PIN, for instance, and something that you possess, like a token which can generate a number code or, more conveniently, your smartphone.
Using these two things in combination can provide unique identification when entering a site because you provide the password as well as a one-time use security code generated by your security token. If someone learns your password, your accounts are still protected because they need the security code too. Two-factor authentication can reduce the incidence of identity theft and phishing, and we suggest the use of it.
There are a number of authenticator apps made for Android smartphones. For example, Google Authenticator lets you use a security code and your own password for sites and services like Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, and WordPress. The app creates a link between your account and your device.
I lost my phone. How do I access my accounts?
If you are so security-minded that you use two-factor authentication to begin with, then you have probably taken precautions before you lose your phone. The majority of authenticator services allow a way to recover your access and remove the authorized device from your account. That is, if you change your mobile device, then you can disable the two-factor authentication from your account before doing so. Most commonly, you would use backup codes, send the codes via SMS to a trusted backup phone, or use a trusted computer. Sometimes, the service providers take several business days to verify your identity and, if possible, grant you access again.
But, if you failed to plan ahead and you lose your phone or if you buy a new smartphone without disabling the account, to use two-factor authentication again, you’ll need to install an authenticator app on your new device. The old device and the old backup codes won’t work anymore. Some of the sites you have synced to may also have their own procedure, for example, Dropbox.
Recently, an app is making the use of this security measure much more convenient. Authy is an app that manages your two-factor accounts on Android devices, iPhones, and even your PC. Any of these devices could be used to generate tokens and sync with each other. One authorized device could de-authorize a stolen one. A master password could block the access to Authy in these multiple devices and your settings are all kept encrypted locally. Neither Authy’s developers nor hackers would be able to access the tokens.
Maybe this complex recovery process is what does not make two-factor authentication omnipresent. But, after all, you just need to take a few precautions to increase your security a lot.
Of course, it’s better not to lose your devices and for this, you should install and configure Avast Anti-Theft, which can help you find a lost device and even recover a stolen one with its tracking features. It can be downloaded and used for free from the Google Play Store.
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.
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.
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…
We simply need to follow some rules to control and prevent system penetration and also bandwidth theft (and losing money!). Safeguard your valuable information available through your home wireless connection and do not be easy target for hackers!
Here are 12 ways to boost your router’s security:
1. Install your router in a safe place where the wireless signal is available only inside your own house. Avoid placing it near to a window.
2. Turn off WPS, the automated network configuration method that makes your wireless password more vulnerable to hacker attacks.Turn on WPA2 encryption and, if you can, protect it with a strong password.
3. Change the default admin username and password to a strong password. Do not use default passwords because they’re generated from well-known algorithms that makes hacker attacks even easier. Do not use your name, date of birth, home address or any personal information as the password.
4. Upgrade your router firmware to fix known vulnerabilities of the router.
5. Don’t forget to log out after managing the router, avoiding abuse of the authenticated browser sessions.
6. Disable remote management of the router over the internet. In a business environment, if you need this management, it will be safer to use NAT rules allowing SSH or VPN access only.
7. To prevent CSRF attacks, don’t use the default IP ranges. Change the defaults 192.168.1.1 to something different like 10.8.9.7.
8. To prevent ROM-0 abuse of your router (i.e., access to the secret data stored in your router: your ADSL login/password combination and WiFi password), forward port 80 on the router to and non-used IP address on your network. Check how-to here.
9. Set your router DNS servers to automatic mode (or DHCP) or for a static value that you manually set exactly according to your ISP.
10. Disable IPv6 on the router or, if you really need IPv6 services, replace the router with a IPv6 certified one.
11. You can save bandwidth and allow only specific computers or devices to access your WiFi even if they have the security key to enter. Find the computer MAC address (the “physical address” listed with the command line ipconfig/all at a cmd window). Into your router settings, you should look for the Mac filtering settings to add this identifier there.
12. Use a secure VPN in open/public WiFi hotspots. You can read more on how Avast SecureLine can protect PC, Mac and Android devices in these situations. If you cannot avoid using public WiFi, then try not to log in or enter your credentials (specially banking or credit card ones), but also your email and phone number. If you really need it, always prefer the secure protocol HTTPS (check the browser address bar).