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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?

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

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April 15th, 2015

How to extend the life of your phone’s battery

How to use Avast productsIf 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?

Battery SaverEveryone knows it can take hours to charge a lithium-ion battery and depending on your use, it sometimes doesn’t even last through the workday. Here are some tips to conserve battery power.

  • 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. :)

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April 3rd, 2015

TGIF: Avast News Wrap-up for March 18 – April 2 2015

The Avast biweekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last 2 weeks .

Watch March Madness with SecureLine VPNMarch 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.

laptop and routersSpeaking 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.

IMG_20150328_115931I run because I really REALLY like Beer!

Team Avast rocked it at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon.

WBDWorld 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.

Remote AssistanceThe 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.

avtest_certified_homeuser_2015-02With 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.

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April 1st, 2015

Help others with their computer issues using Avast Remote Assistance

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.

remote assistance mum-EN

Avast Remote Assistance makes it a lot easier on the family IT person.

 

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.

remote-assistance-UI

Customize your Avast Overview screen for fast access.

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.

March 19th, 2015

How to use the Avast Virus Chest

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.

avast-user-interface

Set the shortcuts that you want in the Avast user interface.

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.

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