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July 23rd, 2015

Microsoft releases emergency Windows patch after discovery of critical security flaw

With the release of their newest operating system just days away, now is not the most convenient time for Microsoft to be facing and dealing with security bugs. However, two thirds of all 1.5 billion PCs operated by Windows across the globe were recently left vulnerable due to a security flaw found in nearly every version of Windows, including Windows 10 Insider Preview.

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

The flaw (MS15-078) lies within the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library and can be exploited by cybercriminals to hijack PCs and/or infect them with malware. Users can be attacked when they visit untrusted websites that contain malicious embedded OpenType fonts. Microsoft explains more about the threat in a security bulletin advisory:

An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit this vulnerability, such as by convincing a user to open a specially crafted document, or by convincing a user to visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library handles OpenType fonts.

The flaw has been classified as critical, which is Microsoft’s highest measured level of threat. Anyone running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Server 2008, Server 2012 and Windows RT are affected by the flaw. Microsoft’s online Security TechCenter includes a full list of affected software and additional vulnerability information.

Read more…

July 20th, 2015

How iOS users can stay protected against iScam threat

iScam displays a "crash report" to affected users. (Photo via Daily Mail)

iScam displays a “crash report” to affected users. (Photo via Daily Mail)

It’s a common belief (and myth) that Apple products are invincible against malware. This false line of thinking has recently again been refuted, as iPhone and iPad users have been encountering a ransomware threat that freezes their Internet browsers, rendering their devices unusable. The ploy, commonly known as iScam, urges victims to call a number and pay $80 as a ransom to fix their device. When users visit an infected page while browsing using the Safari application, a message is displayed saying that the device’s iOS has crashed “due to a third party application” in their phone. The users are then directed to contact customer support to fix the issue.

How to clean your system if you’ve been infected by iScam

  • Turn on Anti-phishing. This can be done by visiting Settings > Safari and turn on ‘Fraudulent Website Warning’. When turned on, Safari’s Anti-phishing feature will notify you if you visit a suspected phishing site.
  • Block cookies. For iOS 8 users, tap Settings > Safari > Block Cookies and choose Always Allow, Allow from websites I visit, Allow from Current Websites Only, or Always Block. In iOS 7 or earlier, choose Never, From third parties and advertisers, or Always.
  • Allow JavaScript. Tap Settings > Safari > Advanced and turn JavaScript on.
  • Clear your history and cookies from Safari. In iOS 8, tap Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. In iOS 7 or earlier, tap Clear History and tap Clear Cookies and Data. To clear other stored information from Safari, tap Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data > Remove All Website Data.

Check out Apple’s support forum for additional tips on how to keep your device safe while using Safari.

Categories: General, How to Tags: , , , , , ,
July 18th, 2015

How to thoroughly wipe your phone before selling it

Make sure your Android phone is wiped clean before you sell it.

Every day, tens of thousands of people sell or give away their old mobile phones. We decided to buy some of these used phones to test whether they had been wiped clean of their data. What we found was astonishing: 40,000 photos including 750 photos of partially nude women and more than 250 male nude selfies, 750 emails and texts, 250 names and addresses, a collection of anime porn, a complete loan application, and the identity of four of the previous phone owners.

How did we recover so much personal data?

The problem is that people thought they deleted files but the standard features that came with their operating system did not do the job completely. The operating system deleted the corresponding pointers in the file table and marked the space occupied by the file as free. But in reality, the file still existed and remained on the drive.

Read more…

July 11th, 2015

Does Avast slow down my computer?

When your computer slows to a crawl, it is very frustrating. One of the worst things that people do when trying to restore the performance of their PC is to remove the security software. Getting rid of your protective barrier just opens you up to threats that could make things even worse.

So you know that you need a security product on your computer, but you don’t want any software to impact the speed or performance. That’s why an excellent choice is Avast antivirus products.

Avast got the highest rating for Performance from AV-ComparativesAvast provides high detection rates and good protection against malware, but it does not degrade system performance or annoy users by being resource hungry.

But don’t take my word for it.

AV-Comparatives, a well-known and trusted third party testing lab, recently tested 20 antivirus and internet security products. Avast Free Antivirus topped every single one of them – paid security suites and free antivirus protection – and received an Advanced Plus three star award for the May 2015 Performance Test.

Reasons why your PC may be slow

It is not always security software that is responsible for a slow system. Other factors can play a role, which means that with a few tweaks your systems performance can be improved.

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July 9th, 2015

Top 10 most annoying browser toolbars

It usually happens after you download something free. You go back online and your browser suddenly looks unfamiliar. There’s new buttons and weird icons in the place of what you used to have. A strange search page from a company you have never heard has taken the place of your homepage.

How did I get that annoying toolbar?

 

Avast Browser Cleanup removes annoying toolbars

You have inadvertently downloaded a browser toolbar that came bundled with other software.

Free programs, like Adobe Reader, often include add-ons like toolbars or browser extensions. Most of the time, during the installation of the software, an opt-out option will be presented for the add-on. But, lots of people click through without reading, and when they’re finished they discover they have downloaded something they didn’t intend to.

To keep this from happening in the first place, slow down and read the screens. You could save yourself lots of time and headaches if you do.

Read more…

July 1st, 2015

Shopping online just got a little more risky

One of the largest e-commerce platforms, Magento, has been plagued by hackers who inject malicious code in order to spy and steal credit card data or any other data a customer submits to the system. More than 100,000+ merchants all over the world use Magento platform, including eBay, Nike Running, Lenovo, and the Ford Accessories Online website.

The company that discovered the flaws, Securi Security, says in their blog, “The sad part is that you won’t know it’s affecting you until it’s too late, in the worst cases it won’t become apparent until they appear on your bank statements.”

Minimize your risk for identity theft when shopping online

Minimize your risk for identity theft when shopping online

Data breaches are nothing new. The Identity Theft Research Center said there were 761 breaches in 2014 affecting more than 83 million accounts. You probably recall the reports of Sony, Target, Home Depot, and Chic Fil A.

We have heard lots about what we as individual consumers can do to protect ourselves: Use strong passwords, update your antivirus protection and keep your software patched, learn to recognize phishing software, and be wary of fake websites asking for our personal information.

But this kind of hack occurs on trusted websites and show no outward signs that there has been a compromise. The hackers have thoroughly covered their tracks, and you won’t know anything is wrong until you check your credit card bill.

So how do you minimize the risk of online shopping?

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June 11th, 2015

How to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi hotspots

Many of the Wi-Fi hotspots you use in your hometown and when you travel have major security flaws making it easy for hackers to see your browsing activity, searches, passwords, videos, emails, and other personal information. It’s a public Wi-Fi connection, meaning that you are sharing the network with lots of strangers. Those strangers can easily watch what you’re doing or steal a username and password to one of your accounts while you sip your latte.

An easy and affordable way to maintain your security whenever you use free Wi-Fi is to use a virtual private network (VPN). It sounds techie, but Avast has made it simple.

A VPN service, like our SecureLine VPN, routes all the data you’re sending and receiving through a private, secure network, even though you’re on a public one. That way, SecureLine makes you 100% anonymous while protecting your activity.

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June 3rd, 2015

Latest versions of Avast compatible with Windows 10

Image via TechRadar

The future of Windows is just around the corner. (Image via TechRadar)

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that the Windows 10 official launch date will be on July 29 and will be available as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users (for one year). This latest OS will be available to pre-order in the upcoming weeks when it launches in 190 different markets across the globe. In anticipation of Microsoft’s exciting new OS, this Techradar article takes a brief look at the operating system’s past:

With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.

Now, Windows 10 has emerged as an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways – a truly innovative move from Microsoft’s side. Its big reveal is now quickly approaching, and tech enthusiasts everywhere are curious to see how this OS will measure up.

Will Avast be compatible with Windows 10?

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May 25th, 2015

Explaining Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature

Avast scans HTTPS

Avast Web Shield scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.

Internet users with basic security knowledge are aware that they should look for the padlock icon in the address bar or the HTTPS in a web address to indicate that a website is secure. We have gotten used to seeing it on bank sites or shopping carts where we input our credit card information. More and more, regular websites are making the switch from unencrypted HTTP to encrypted HTTPS. Last year, search giant Google sweetened the pot by adding HTTPS to their ranking algorithm. That action encouraged webmasters everywhere to make the switch to HTTPS.

But is HTTPS really more secure than HTTP?

The simple answer is not always. As more and more online services are moving to HTTPS, attacks are increasing. An encrypted connection ensures that the connection cannot be modified by anyone else, but it does not guarantee that the actual content being downloaded is safe. Just as with plain HTTP, if a legitimate website is hacked, malware scripts and binaries can be placed into the HTTPS page that appears to be safe.

That’s why it is imperative for security software to check this attack vector. To address this, Avast’s trusted Web Shield technology scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.

How Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature works (the short version)

Avast is able to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in our Web-content filtering component. To detect malware and threats on HTTPS sites, Avast must remove the SSL certificate and add its self-generated certificate. Our certificates are digitally signed by Avast’s trusted root authority and added into the root certificate store in Windows and in major browsers to protect against threats coming over HTTPS; traffic that otherwise could not be detected.

Avast whitelists websites if we learn that they don’t accept our certificate. Users can also whitelist sites manually, so that the HTTPS scanning does not slow access to the site.

This video gives you an overview, but if any of this didn‘t make much sense to you, read below for a more detailed explanation. You can also explore the FAQ about HTTPS scanning in Web Shield.

What is HTTP and why is it being changed?

HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is the network protocol used to deliver virtually all files and other data on the World Wide Web. When you visit a website you may see the HTTP:// prefix in the address. This means your browser is now connected to the server using HTTP. The problem with HTTP is that it is not a secure way to establish a connection, opening a door to cybercrooks who want to eavesdrop on your activities.

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May 19th, 2015

Wise up and get smarter with your data

Most of us can agree that we don’t want our personal data falling into other people’s hands. This may seem like an obvious concept, but with the amount of data we regularly share online, it’s not such an uncommon occurrence that our information is wrongfully passed onto others. In this clever video published by Facebook Security, we learn how to nip scams in the bud and prevent others from tricking us into sharing personal information.

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