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January 26th, 2016

AV-TEST rates Avast Free Antivirus 2016 as a top security product for Windows Home Users

Avast Free Antivirus 2016 obtained highly positive ratings in AV-TEST's recent Product Review.

Avast Free Antivirus 2016 obtained highly positive ratings in AV-TEST’s recent Product Review.

AV-TEST, the leading and worldwide operating service provider for IT security testing services, has recently revealed the results of their Product Review and Certification Report for November-December 2015. AV-TEST describes the details of the review on their website:

Read more…

January 21st, 2016

AV-Comparatives report: Avast takes the gold for Overall Performance

Avast was awarded the title of Top Rated Product for 2015 by AV-Comparatives.

Avast was awarded the title of Top Rated Product for 2015 by AV-Comparatives.

Recently, AV-Comparatives released their 2015 Summary Report, an important resource for anyone who is interested in security solutions and antivirus software. Avast had a few exciting wins in this year’s report, which we plan to build upon as we continue moving forward into 2016.

Firstly, Avast was awarded the title of Top Rated Product for 2015 by AV-Comparatives. In their report, AV-Comparatives writes:

“Avast is a Top Rated Product this year, receiving five Advanced+ awards in the course of the year, including both Real-World Protection Tests. . . We feel its scan-results dialog box is equally well suited to expert and non-expert users.“

In addition to being a Top Rated Product, Avast also won the Gold Award for AV-Comparatives‘ Overall Performance Test, as well as a Silver Award for the Malware Removal Test.

In describing their Overall Performance test, AV-Comparatives adds that Avast demonstrates a significantly lower impact on system performance than that of other products. This means that Avast doesn’t disturb you while you browse, work or play on your PC.

How to make your PC’s performance the best it can be

If you’re experiencing a sluggish computer, there’s several things you can do to improve your system’s performance.

  • Make sure your software is up to date. The most up-to-date software contains fixes and patches that makes it run at its best. Avast 2016 products have enhanced features and the highest detection rates to protect your computer from malicious attacks. Software Updater is a feature in Avast 2016 that helps you ensure that your programs are up to date.
  • Old hardware. If you try to install modern software onto your old computer, it could start running at a snail’s pace, because the hardware simply is not capable of running the software. Ideally, buying a new PC with a multi-core processor is the best solution. However if your budget does not include a new computer, then you could add more RAM.
  • Stick to one security program. It’s not advised to run more than one security program with real-time protection at a time. Please uninstall any trial software that came with your PC before installing different protection. You can find a list and instructions to remove here. We recommend that you follow the vendor’s instructions before proceeding with the uninstallation.

Follow Avast on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+ where we keep you updated on cybersecurity news every day.

January 6th, 2016

Notes from the 2016 AT&T Developer Summit

The 2016 AT&T Developer Conference took place on January 2-5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 2016 AT&T Developer Conference took place on January 2-5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For nearly 10 years, AT&T has been bringing an annual developer conference to their partners and collaborators. This year, they creatively chose to combine their conference with a hackathon in order to encourage the participation of budding developers and to support young talent in achieving career-related goals.

This year’s conference and hackathon, which took place on January 2-5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, was packed with an array of topics split into six main sessions: devices and wearables, IoT, real-time communications, video, network advances and the connected home.

I’ve put together several of the sessions that stood out to me as especially relevant to the evolution of today’s technology.

Read more…

December 7th, 2015

Avast SecureMe app protects iOS users from Wi-Fi hacking

 

Avast SecureMe is the world’s first application that gives iPhone users a tool to protect their devices and personal data when they connect to Wi-Fi networks. The free app scans Wi-Fi networks and tells users which of them are safe. Since many users use Wi-Fi networks without knowing whether or not they are safe, Avast SecureMe will create a secure connection in order to keep them safe.

The app notifies you upon the discovery of security issues

Avast SecureMe includes a feature called Wi-Fi Security. People who use open Wi-Fi in public areas such as airports, hotels, or cafes will find this helpful. This feature’s job is to scan Wi-Fi connections and notify you if any security issues are found, such as routers with weak passwords, unsecured wireless networks, and routers with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Users have the option to label Wi-Fi networks that they frequently use as trusted — this way, the app won’t need to check the networks every time.

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, cybercrooks can capture your login credentials which can lead to identity theft. On unprotected Wi-Fi networks, crooks can also easily view your emails, browsing history, and personal data if you don’t use a secure or encrypted connection like a virtual private network (VPN). For more details on this point, see our recent Wi-Fi hotspot experiment to see how widespread the threat really is.

Avast SecureMe is a simple way to find and choose safe networks.

The Avast SecureMe app includes a VPN to protect your privacy

Avast SecureMe features a VPN to secure your connections while you conduct online tasks that you’d like to remain private. This could include checking emails, doing your online banking, and even visiting your favorite social network sites. Avast SecureMe connects to the secure VPN when it detects that you have connected to a public Wi-Fi network, making all transferred data invisible to prying eyes. For convenience, you can disable the protection for Wi-Fi connections you trust, such as your home network.

Try it for yourself! You can download Avast SecureMe free of charge on iTunes.


Follow Avast on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+ where we keep you updated on cybersecurity news every day.

November 11th, 2015

The Anatomy of an IoT Hack

Avast researchers hacked a Vizio Smart TV to gain access to a home network.

Avast researchers hacked a Vizio Smart TV

Hackers could gain access to your home or office network through the Smart TV

Co-authors: Ross Dickey and Riley Seaman 

The Internet is everywhere —  in your TV, your light bulb, and even your refrigerator. We are now living in the world of the Internet of Things. With all of our physical devices connected to the Internet, it’s important to understand how someone might access your information or violate your privacy through these devices. As an example, we’ll walk through hacking a Smart TV with the intention of gaining access to the victim’s home network, as well as to illustrate the privacy implications of having Internet-connected devices in your home or office.

Through this experiment, our aim is to show just how much a regular person can be affected by vulnerabilities within a smart device. Throughout our journey, we went through a series of processes that involved (but were not limited to) a simulated Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack, the injection of an SSID, and the decoding of the device’s binary stream. We dove straight in, making our way through many avenues and curves with the ultimate goal to “crack the salt” (more on that later).

In the end, we found that the smart TV we were inspecting actually broadcasted fingerprints of users’ activities, whether they agreed to the device’s privacy policy and terms of services when first setting it up. In addition, we uncovered a vulnerability within the device that could serve as a potential attack vector for an attacker attempting to access a user’s home network. Since this all sounds pretty creepy, it’s important to note that Vizio successfully resolved these issues upon being notified of our findings. Now, onto the experiment we go:

Read more…

August 12th, 2015

Understanding tech companies’ privacy policies and their effect on users

Tech companies’ privacy policies have the ability to help or hinder users.

When was the last time you sat down and read through the entirety of a tech company’s privacy policy, even if you visit the site every day?

In an article recently published by TIME in collaboration with the Center for Plain Language, a selection of the world’s leading and regularly visited tech websites were ranked in a list in relation to their privacy policies. In short, they rated the companies based on the manner in which they communicated with the public while walking them through their privacy policies. In this case, it wasn’t the actual data that these companies collect from current and potential new users that was being analyzed. Instead, this study looked at the way in which that information is brought to the attention of these users.

Read more…

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August 4th, 2015

Windows Phone Store scam: malicious mobile apps aren’t unique to Google Play

Although it’s possible to use third-party apps stores safely and securely, the fact that scams do still occur in a variety of app stores shouldn’t be ignored. On Sunday, a threat was discovered by a user who posted the issue on our forum. The scam, located within the Windows Phone Store, advertised three fraudulent versions of Avast Mobile Security. These fake apps not only include the Avast logo, but also feature actual screenshots from AMS in their image galleries. Our fast-acting team has since blocked the pages and has labeled them as malicious.

Fake AMS apps collect personal data and redirect users to adware

If downloaded, these fake versions of AMS found on the Windows Phone Store pose a risk to users’ security. Here’s how they work:

  1. New Avast security: This app includes three control buttons which show only advertisements. Even without actively clicking on the ads, the app redirects users to additional adware.
  2. Avast Antivirus Analysis: Claiming to “protect your phone from malware and theft”, this malicious app runs in the background of victims’ devices once downloaded and collects their data and location.
  3. Mobile Security & Antivirus – system 2: Simply put, this is a paid-for version of “New Avast security” that forcibly leads users to adware.

Read more…

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…

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July 22nd, 2015

Windows 10 security features consumers can look forward to

Windows 10 will be launching in T-minus seven days and will be offered for free within its first year of availability to Windows 7 and 8 users. Not only will the beloved Start button be back in Windows 10, but Windows 10 will also include a personal assistant, Cortana. What’s more, the new operating system will introduce many promising security features and a new browser.

Image: TechRadar

Image: TechRadar

Hello there, Windows Hello and Passport!

Windows Hello is biometric authentication that either scans your face, iris or fingerprint to access your Windows 10 device – very secret agent-like security! By doing so, Windows Hello eliminates the chance of hackers stealing your password to access your device, simply because you will no longer have a password to begin with!

Windows Passport also eliminates the use of passwords to access your online accounts. For now, Microsoft will work with the Azure Active Directory and has joined the FIDO alliance to subsequently support password replacement for other consumer, financial and security services. Windows will verify that you are truly the one using your device through a PIN or via Windows Hello, and then it will authenticate Windows Passport so you can log in to websites and services without ever using a password. Combined use of Windows Hello and Windows Passport would mean that a hacker would not only have to physically steal your device, but also kidnap you to access your accounts.

You will, of course, need hardware that is capable of infrared scanning your face or iris, or that has a built-in fingerprint reader to use Windows Hello. Microsoft has already confirmed that all OEM systems with Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera (F200) will support Windows Hello’s facial unlock features.

Read more…

July 20th, 2015

GrimeFighter is now Avast Cleanup

Optimize your PC with Avast Cleanup’s advanced scanning features.

Change is good, especially when it pushes us forward and encourages us to improve. We’ve recently made a change that will benefit our users and make their experience using our products even better. Our PC optimization product formerly known as GrimeFighter has now emerged as Avast Cleanup. In addition to the name change, there’s more to this transition that Avast users can be excited about. In Avast Cleanup, we’ve got a bunch of great benefits for you to enjoy:

  • Rid your PC of up to 5x more junk. Avast Cleanup continues to search for junk files, unnecessary app processes and system settings that slow down your PC’s performance. The amount of issues detected by Avast Cleanup have been improved fivefold, ensuring that your PC is cleaned as thoroughly as possible.
  • Keep it clean, keep it fast. Avast Cleanup’s quick and easy scan is 10x faster, now capable of transforming your PC in minutes or even seconds. As always, exact scan times may vary due to Internet connection or amount of issues found.
  • Win precious space back with new, advanced scanning features. Even a new PC can be loaded with unnecessary apps. Avast Cleanup checks when you update a program or uninstall an app, ensuring that any unnecessary leftover files don’t take up space on your PC. Since you’re immediately informed if unneeded files are discovered, you can save more space on your device than ever before.
  • Organize Avast Cleanup to work around your agenda. You can schedule a daily clean, select which programs you want to load upon startup, and choose what you clean in a scan. What’s more, Avast Cleanup discreetly runs in the background while you go about your daily activities.

Avast Cleanup helps you store more of what you actually want and to accomplish it in just a few minutes. Don’t let your PC become a test of your patience — try Cleanup for yourself. Here’s how:

  • For licensed users, all you need to do is install the latest version of Avast. Your GrimeFighter will then be automatically updated to Avast Cleanup. You’ll receive a notification letting you know that the update was successful.
  • For users who have updated to the latest Avast version but haven’t yet purchased Avast Cleanup, you can do so either from our website or, better yet, directly through the program by navigating to the store link on left menu of the interface.
  • For users who haven’t updated, you can also buy Cleanup within Avast. For now, you’ll still see it as GrimeFighter and you’ll need to do an update to the latest version of Avast in order for it to work.