Protecting over 230 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus


January 26th, 2015

How to access accounts protected by two-factor authentication if you lose your phone

Avast explains how to use two factor authenticationQuestion 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.

Google Authenticator

Google Authenticator gives you a security token to use with your own password.

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.

Avast Anti-theft is a free app for Android devicesMaybe 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.

What to do before your smartphone is lost

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.

Categories: Android corner, How to, Technology Tags:

January 22nd, 2015

Do Not Disturb: How to disable messages, popups, and alerts in Avast

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.

Avast silent/gaming mode for presentations

This is NOT a good time for an Avast notification to appear. Learn how to silence Avast when you need to.

Silent/gaming mode

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.

Avast sounds

Change your Avast settings in the user interface

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…

Categories: General, How to Tags: , ,

January 20th, 2015

Selling or giving away your old smartphone or tablet?

Take these steps to ensure you don’t give away your data when you sell your old smartphone!

Remove your data beofre selling your smartphone

You got a new device for Christmas and have finally finished migrating the data and apps from your old one to the new one. Now you’re thinking about what you can do with your old smartphone or tablet, and you come up with two alternatives: Sell it or give it away.

You’ve heard about some sites on the internet where you can sell your phone, so you do some research and decide on a fair price for your used device. Register yourself at the site and… Wait. Something suddenly occurred to you.

Will the new owner be able to see my personal stuff on my old phone?

 

You’re right to think about that because Tens of thousands of Americans sell themselves online every day. Not only do they sell the devices, they sell themselves as all the personal data could be recovered.

eBay infograph June 2014If you don’t want a stranger to see your selfies, discover your bank account details and your credit card numbers, and even some problematic Snapchats and SMSs… you need to do something. Do you remember the celebrities photos scandal?

So what to do? Use a hammer? Well, there are other options.

1. Backup your important data

Much of our lives are stored in our smartphones: Photos, music, videos, personal and professional contacts, call logs and SMSs. And you want all this stuff in your new device, don’t you? Avast Mobile Backup was specially designed to make this easier for you. It makes a backup in your Avast account (or in your Google Drive storage) and then allows you to recover them in a new device: All your paid apps and games (with their data) will be restored.

If you have a MicroSD card, remove it from your device and insert it into your PC, making a full copy and paste operation for all files. Remember that many Android devices store photos and other media files in the DCIM folder of the internal memory. Back it up, too.

Read more…

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January 19th, 2015

An old threat is back: Ramsonware CryptoWall 3.0. Get Avast for protection.

The nightmare is back! Your security could be seriously compromised if you do not act now. Install and update your Avast for PC before is too late. The original version of CryptoWall was discovered in November 2013, but a new and improved variant of the CryptoWall ransomware starts to infect computers all over the world last days. It’s the CryptoWall 3.0. Some sources estimate that it has already infected over 700,000 computers up to version 2.0.

Avast detects and blocks ransomware

Avast Software Updater can help identify software that needs to be updated.

CryptoWall is a malware that encrypts certain files in your computer (and secure delete the original ones) and, once activated, demands a fine around $500 as a ransom to provide the decryption key. You’re asked to pay in digital Bitcoins in about 170 hours (almost a full week). After that period, the fee is raised to $1000.

You could be asking why haven’t the authorities blocked the financial funding of them? They use unique wallet ID for each victim into their own TOR anonymity servers. For the user to be able to pay the ransom, he needs to use a TOR-like connection called Web-to-TOR. Each TOR gateway redirects the victim to the same web page with the payment instructions. The commands and communication control is now done using Invisible Internet Project (I2P) instead of Tor.

Infection could reach you in various ways. The most common is as a phishing attack, but it also comes in email attachments and PDF files. The malware kit also abuses various vulnerabilities in unpatched – read non up-to-date – Flash, Java, browsers and other applications to drop the CryptoWall ransomware.

How Avast prevents the infection

1. Avast Antispam and antiphishing protection prevents some vectors distribution.

2. Virus signature block all known ransomwares versions. Remember that Avast automatic streaming updates releases hundreds of daily updates for virus definitions.

3. Community IQ intelligence and sensors of our more than 220 million users that detects malware behavior all over the world. See how it works in this YouTube video.

4. Keeping your software updated is another security measure that prevents the exploit of their vulnerabilities. Learn how Avast Software Updater can help you with this job.

What more can I do?

Avast also helps in prevention of this disaster through its Avast Backup that allows you to keep all your important files in a secure and encrypted way. We also recommend local backup, as the new malware could also attack other drives and even cloud storage. Did you know that Avast Backup also performs local copies of the files? You can enable it at Settings > Options > Local backup, and configure the backup location (better an external drive) and also versioning of the files. Remember to disconnect the external drive from the computer (and the network) to prevent infection of the backups by CryptoWall and further encryption of the files.

Avast Software’s security applications for PC, Mac, and Android are trusted by more than 200-million people and businesses. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


January 18th, 2015

Your video guide to Avast 2015 features

Only four and half minutes of your time, and you’ll know the highlights of Avast 2015.

 

Avast 2015 is very easy to use, and many people just install it and let it do its job silently in the background. We designed it that way, but for those of you who want to know more about the features of Avast, we created a video guide to help you get the most out of your security protection.

The core of Avast Antivirus is real-time active protection comprised of the Web, Mail, and File System Shields. These can be accessed from the user interface. Open Settings and go to Active protection.

Avast 2015 includes our new, unique Home Network Security (HSN) which scans for home router security problems. Avast is the only security company to offer a tool to help you secure this neglected area.

To save you time, Avast 2015 has an efficient 4-in-1 Smart Scan which combines scans for malware and HSN’s router vulnerabilities, missing software updates and patches with Software Updater, and performance issues with GrimeFighter. GrimeFighter requires a separate license to fully optimize your PC.


January 16th, 2015

Guess what’s here? Here again? A new version of Avast Mobile Security is here, tell a friend!

In November, we called on our awesome advanced mobile beta testers to test the latest version of Avast Mobile Security. We listened to their feedback carefully and are proud to announce that the latest version of Avast Mobile Security is now available to everyone!

Screenshot_2014-11-21-15-28-58

What’s new in Avast Mobile Security?

First and foremost, we have completely redesigned the virus scanner, making it faster than ever (up to 50% faster!). Then we improved support for Intel-based devices, optimizing the virus scanner for the best performance possible.

Finally, we added a referral program, so you can recommend Avast Mobile Security to your friends and family. Not only can you recommend the best mobile security app available on Google Play, but you will be rewarded for doing so; you can earn up to three months of Avast Mobile Premium for free!

Here is how it works: For every five friends you send an SMS to recommending Avast, you get one free month of Avast Mobile Premium.

In summary:

 The new features in Avast Mobile Security are:

  • A redesigned and faster than ever virus scanner (50% faster!)
  • Improved support for Intel-based devices
  • An awesome new referral program that rewards you for spreading the word about Avast Mobile Security!

How can I get the latest version of Avast Mobile Security?

If you don’t already have Avast Mobile Security, what are you waiting for?! Download it on Google Play now! Already have Avast Mobile Security? If you have enabled automatic updates in your Google Play settings, you are all set :) If you don’t have automatic updates enabled in your Google Play settings, you can visit our app on Google Play and upgrade manually!

Have fun using Avast Mobile Security – we look forward to hearing your feedback!

We would like to extend a special thanks to our beta testers, your feedback plays an extremely important role in developing our products!

Avast Software’s security applications for PC, Mac, and Android are trusted by more than 200-million people and businesses. Please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

 

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January 15th, 2015

Fobus, the sneaky little thief that could

One small Android application shows lots of determination and persistence. Too bad it’s evil.

Mobile malware, Fobus, acts like this famous little engine. "I think I can, I think I can!"

Mobile malware, Fobus, acts like this famous little engine. “I think I can, I think I can!”

 

The year 2014 was significant with a huge rise in mobile malware. One of the families impacting our users was malware Fobus, also known as Podec. This malware poses as a more or less useful application, but for sure it won’t be what the user expects. This malware usually has two language versions, English and Russian, and applications seem to be generated automatically.

All that, and a bag of chips

From the permissions in the manifest, we can see that once Fobus is installed on the victim’s device it cannot only send SMS and call premium numbers, which may cost a lot of money, but it also works as  Spyware and can steal personal data from the infected device. That’s a lot of bad stuff packed into one small application.

Permission

Next up is a bit more technical stuff. If you are really eager, skip to Me thinks that something is amiss section to see how it works. Read more…


January 13th, 2015

What to do before your smart phone is lost

Avast Anti-theft tracks lost phones remotelyBe prepared.

That’s good advice for hosting a Super Bowl party, going to a job interview, or if you lose your phone.

Not being prepared could prove disastrous in all three of those examples, but most people would agree that losing their phone with all the contacts, text messages, photos, and other irreplaceable data is worse than forgetting the Doritos or not answering an interview question well.

If you happen to lose your Android smart phone or tablet, or if someone steals it from you, do not despair. Our clever, FREE app, Avast Anti-theft, will help you find your phone and even, catch the thief.antitheft infographic

What is Avast Anti-Theft?

 

Avast Anti-Theft is a free standalone application designed for Android smart phones and tablets. It’s main purpose is to help you locate your lost or stolen mobile device, allowing you to track it on a map and control it remotely. Since Anti-Theft is a separate application from Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus, it is completely invisible when it is running so that thieves don’t even know it’s there.

This infographic explains what you can do with your phone if you discover that it’s missing.

 

Locate your device on a map

Remotely locate your phone via GPS, Wi-Fi, or mobile network – for maximum accuracy.

 

Remotely lock your phone

Remotely lock your phone to prevent access to your personal data and settings.

 

Activate a siren remotely

Activate a loud, customizable siren, which reverts to maximum volume if thieves try to silence it.

 

If you spring for the paid version of Avast Anti-Theft, you get some additional, powerful features.

 

Take a photo of a would-be thief

You can set your device to lock access and take a picture of the person attempting to unlock it after three failed tries.

 

Remote data retrieval from your device

Retrieve call logs, SMS messages, and other personal data from your phone.

Avast Anti-Theft is available on Google Play, where it can be downloaded for free.


January 12th, 2015

Lizard Squad hackers use unsecured home routers in DDoS attacks

This Lizard is out to get your home router.

This Lizard is out to get your home router.

Your home router could be part of a network used to knock sites like Sony PlayStation network offline.

During Christmas we reported that a hacker group calling themselves the Lizard Squad, took responsibility for ruining the day for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox users by taking the gaming networks offline. This and previous attacks, which included a bomb threat directed at an American Airlines flight with Sony Entertainment president John Smedley on board, have been revealed to be a marketing campaign to advertise a new product available for rent to anyone who wants to cause a Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack to the target of their choice.

I’m not a hacker. Why should I care?

You may not be a hacker, but the power for this service could be coming from your home office! Security blogger, Brian Krebs, whose own site was attacked, found out that the network of infected devices that powers the Product-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (that’s because Lizard Squad gleefully thanked Brian for the publicity on their Twitter account) is made up mostly of compromised home routers. On that same Twitter account, Lizard Squad said that they are using 250-500k infected routers.

These are the devices in everyone’s home that we warned you about in our blog, Your home network is at risk of cybersecurity attacks. Most people neglect the security of these devices by using the default user name and password that comes from the manufacturer out-of-the-box.

Our research determined that nearly 80% of all home routers in use today are thinly protected by common, easily hacked passwords, making routers an easy entry point to the home network for hackers,” said Avast Software’s CEO, Vincent Steckler.

Lizard Squad has just proven that point.

Today’s router security situation is very reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s, with lax attitudes towards security combined with new vulnerabilities being discovered every day creating an easily exploitable environment, “ Steckler said. “The main difference is people have much more personal information stored on their devices today than they did back then. Consumers need strong yet simple-to-use tools that can prevent attacks before they happen.”

How to protect your home router

Start by scanning you home network with Avast’s Home Network Security Solution.

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.

The Home Network Security Solution is available in free and paid versions of Avast 2015. Get it at www.avast.com.

For more steps you can take to protect your home router, please see our blog post, 12 ways to boost your router’s security.


January 9th, 2015

Facebook privacy basics – 3 areas to look at

howto2_enPosting a privacy notice on your Facebook feed does nothing to keep your updates, photos, or videos private. You need to tweak the settings yourself.

 

You may have noticed a legal-sounding statement being shared on people’s Facebook  News Feed lately. As we explained in the blog, Posting a privacy notice on Facebook is useless, this statement does nothing to protect users’ privacy. However, it’s great that Facebook users are concerned about these things – it demonstrates a leap forward in awareness and a desire to protect yourself. That’s why we are sharing the three major areas you need to be aware of when it comes to protecting your privacy:

  1. 1. Your posts
  2. 2. Your profile
  3. 3. Your apps

Your posts control who can see what you share when you post from the top of your News Feed or your profile. This tool remembers the audience you shared with the last time you posted something and uses the same audience when you share again unless you change it.

FB privacy 1If you need to delete a post go to your Timeline and find the status update, photo, or video you want to remove. Open the menu in the upper right corner of the post and select Delete.

Your profile includes information about you like Work and Education, Places You’ve Lived, Family and Relationships, etc. To see how others view your profile, go to your profile and select View As… on the menu in the lower right corner of your cover photo. If there is information that you don’t want the world to see, then click Update Info at the bottom of the cover photo of your profile to make sure it’s up-to-date and shared with who you want.

Your apps are what you’ve logged into with your Facebook identity. More and more websites and applications, including Avast, are allowing you to do that, because it’s more convenient than creating a new username and password.

When you choose to use your Facebook information to log in, you are also sharing personal information from your Facebook account with the other website. Third party websites can also sometimes post updates to your wall on your behalf. You can edit who sees each app you use and any future posts the app makes for you, or delete the apps you no longer use. Edit your apps by going to your App Settings.

You can view other settings at any time in your Privacy Settings. Or click the padlock icon located in the top right corner.

 

Use Social Media Security in your Avast account

Every Avast customer has access to our Social Media Security check via your MyAvast account. You can secure your Facebook profile with:

  • 24/7 check of all posts
  • Protection from dangerous links and viruses
  • Monitoring of all photos, friends, and activities

Avast Social Media Security checks your Facebook profile privacy settings

Here’s what you do:

  1. 1. Go to your my.avast.com account. Your Avast Account is created automatically from the email account entered for any Avast GrimeFighter purchase or Avast Free Antivirus registration. Here’s instructions on our FAQ if you don’t have an account.
  2. 2. On the bottom left side of the main screen, you will see Social Media Security. Click the blue button to begin a scan. (You may need to connect your Facebook account first.)
  3. 3. After the scan is complete, Social Media Security will show you all the issues that it found. You can choose to review each of those issues and disregard if it’s OK, or manage the settings within Facebook.