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).
After the previous articles you should be convinced that router vulnerabilities are one of the major concerns in network security. As you already know, the new Avast 2015 version includes a security feature called Home Network Security (HNS) which scans your network and router for vulnerabilities and prevent threats.
One serious problem occurs when when IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is enabled (both by the ISP and on the router), but there is no IPv6 firewall being used. Which means that anyone on the Internet can access devices on the network (like printers, network disks, etc.). This is often the case because the routers are small, embedded devices that cannot handle IPv6 firewalling.
The main advantage of IPv6 over IPv4 is its larger address space: it allows 2128 or approximately 3.4×1038 addresses (or sites) which is an enormous number! In addition to offering more addresses, IPv6 also implements features not present in IPv4: it simplifies address assignment, network renumbering and packets processing.
In fact, a proper IPv6 firewall requires quite some processing power and RAM, so it’s no wonder that many of the cheap routers don’t have that functionality at all (or it’s not working properly).
The remediation is relatively simple: Just disable IPv6 on the router. In most cases, this shouldn’t have any impact on other services, unless they require IPv6 (in which case, it would be good to replace the router with something better which is IPv6 certified).
Avast Internet Security and Premium products offer full support to IPv6 for your computer on our silent firewall. Take into account that other devices, like network drives connected to the router won’t be protected.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The average US family owns four mobile devices, plus Internet-connected computers and other devices. Your Avast Account helps you manage their security.
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.
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.
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.