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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.

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August 10th, 2015

How to scan and remove viruses when your computer is offline

Some sophisticated viruses hide when you turn on your computer (also known as booting up your computer), and even antivirus software like Avast, with its boot-time scan feature, can be prevented from seeing it. If you believe your computer is infected with a virus, the first step you should take is to download and install Avast Free Antivirus and run an entire system scan. If for some reason you are unable to do that, and you have exhausted all other alternatives, like asking our support team for help by submitting a request online at, then you can create an Avast Rescue Disk that will scan, detect, and remove most malware. This bootable version of Avast attacks a virus from outside of your computer system, catching it before it hides or camouflages itself.

rescue disk

To run a virus scan when offline, create an Avast Rescue Disk.

You can create the Avast Rescue Disk from any Avast product. All you need is an uninfected computer with Avast Antivirus 2015 installed and an empty USB flash drive (make sure it is fairly new so that it supports booting) or a blank recordable CD/DVD.

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August 7th, 2015

Going on a trip? Be sure to pack Wi-Fi protection.

Protect your devices when on unsecured Wi-Fi with Avast SecureLine VPN.

Protect your devices when on unsecured Wi-Fi with Avast SecureLine VPN.

Relying on your hotel to protect you when using their free guest Wi-Fi  is not a good idea.

Even the best hotel chains are vulnerable to hackers, so having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is vital for your protection. I will tell you how easy it is to use below. But first, here’s how cybercrooks can get their victims:

One way is through buggy equipment such as the critical vulnerability discovered last March in ANTlabs’s InnGate product used by 277 hotels, convention centers, and data centers in 29 countries. The InnGate provides temporary guest access to a Wi-Fi connection. By breaking into this piece of equipment, an attacker gets full read and write access to a Linux file system and from there can launch attacks against guests on the affected hotel’s Wi-Fi.

Another tactic hackers take is to create a fake Wi-Fi network, call it something innocuous like “Hotel Guest Wi-Fi”, and lure unsuspecting victims to their rogue connection. What the hackers do is set up their own access point and hope you’ll connect to theirs instead of the public Wi-Fi network.

What do hackers want?

It depends on who you are and what information you have on your devices. For normal people with normal jobs, typically, the hacker can watch your online activity, read your email, steal your account passwords and if they go deeply enough, potentially steal your credit card information, which is the precursor to identity theft. “There is seemingly no limit to what they could do,” say the researchers who discovered the InnGate vulnerability.

Victims’ laptops or mobile devices can be also be infected with malware. Last year, the DarkHotel cyberspies gained access to the computers of high-level executives, government agencies and NGOs, and U.S. executives traveling in Asia, probably to steal nuclear secrets.

How do you protect yourself on free Wi-Fi?

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August 7th, 2015

How SMBs in the UK Handle their Company’s Security

UK Avast for Business INFOGRAPHICIn February, Avast launched the world’s first free, easy to use, cloud-managed security offering, Avast for Business, protecting SMBs from viruses and cyberattacks. We conducted a survey amongst our Avast for Business users in the UK to gain further insight into how local SMBs handle their security.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said that 100% of their company’s employees use the Internet. Businesses, whether small or large, retail or non-profit, often have a database of valuable customer data, making them an attractive target for cybercriminals.

Cybercrooks use social engineering to attack businesses, tricking employees via phishing scam to, for example, gain access to a company’s network. Despite the high number of data breaches, 57% of SMBs in the UK invest only 0-2% – little to nothing – of their IT budget on security.

Who handles IT support services for SMBs in the UK?

  • 1 out of 10 said an employee (not a designated IT admin) handles the company’s IT support services
  • Nearly 50% have an in-house technician
  • 1 out of 10 have an external supplier/technician handles the company’s IT support services
  • 28% of SMB business owners handle their company’s IT


More than half of SMBs in the UK allow their employees to access company data from their personal devices. Bring your own device (BYOD) is a convenient practice SMBs have embraced, as it saves costs and encourages productivity.

However, BYOD can be risky, if not handled properly. Not only can hackers target the device to gain access to sensitive corporate information, but if the device is lost or stolen, the company data stored on it goes with the device. More than half (52%) of SMBs authorize employees to access corporate data on personal devices, yet the majority (54%) doesn’t run a BYOD scheme. 


Losing valuable and confidential data (31%) is the greatest security risk to UK SMBs along with productivity (23%) and losing customers (16%). We asked our business users if a virus or threat had infected them before switching to Avast for Business. When it came down to it, threats and hacks cost six out of 10 businesses productivity, followed by data loss (19%).

Types of security solutions SMBs used prior to switching to Avast for Business:

  • More than half (55%) used free consumer security solutions
  • 23% used premium business security solutions
  • Nearly one out of ten used premium consumer security solutions
  • Nearly one out of ten either do not know what kind of security solution they used before switching to Avast for Business or did not use any security solution (3%)

If your SMB has a low IT budget or if your business is currently using a consumer security solution, make sure you check out Avast for Business. Avast for Business is FREE and can be downloaded here.


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August 6th, 2015

Mr. Robot Review: v1ew-s0urce.flv

This week’s episode was pretty intense — although not so many hacks took place, this week focused on meaningful development of the show’s characters. The episode opened with a flashback to when Elliot and Shayla met; we now know where he got his fish and that he is the reason Shayla got involved with Vera. Then we move onto Angela, who has gone forward with her plan to get justice for her mom’s death, but she isn’t the only one on a mission. Tyrell continued in his fight to become CTO of E Corp – going a little too far (even for his own comfort) during his private time with Sharon, the wife of the newly-appointed E Corp CTO.

Despite the fact that there were no major hacks, there were a few interesting scenes I sat down to talk about with my colleague, Filip Chytry, security researcher at Avast.

via: USA Networks

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August 5th, 2015

Windows 10 Service Agreement upsetting privacy watchdogs

Targeted advertisements based on your search history, location tracking, Wi-Fi sharing, torrent style updates – features that share too much are getting privacy watchdogs in a tizzy.


Windows 10

image via Microsoft

Reviewers and consumers alike are happy about the new Windows 10, but now that there has been time to read through the 45-page long consolidation of Service Agreements into one central agreement (which also covers Bing, Outlook, and Xbox Live) some data protection advocates are taking issue with certain features. The European Digital Rights (EDRi) organization summarized that “Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.”

Sharing your business to keep yourself organized

Anyone remember this assistant?

Anyone remember this assistant?

One of the useful but controversial features in Windows 10 is a personal digital assistant called Cortana, similar to Apple’s Siri (and light years away from Clippit, Windows 95 office assistant!) Cortana can set reminders, recognize your natural voice, use information from Bing to answer questions, and of course save all that information in order to provide personalized search results, which basically means you are being profiled so targeted ads can be presented to you (Facebook and Google does that too). Cortana can be disabled and you can opt out of personalized ads.

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Categories: General Tags: , , ,

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.

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August 3rd, 2015

Computer-aided sniper rifles the latest things controlled by hackers

via Wired

via Wired

For those of you keeping track, you can add high-tech sniper rifles to the growing list of Things That Can be Hacked. The vulnerability that allowed two security researchers to break into the computer guidance system of a sniper rifle is the same that allows hackers to access baby monitors and home routers. Simply put, the default Wi-Fi password, which was locked by the manufacturer, allowed anyone within range to connect. The typical range is up to 150 feet (46 m) indoors and 300 feet (92 m) outdoors.

In advance of the Black Hat conference this month, security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger, have demonstrated that they can hack TrackingPoint precision-guided firearms.

The TrackingPoint rifles can make a sharpshooter out of a novice. This is thanks to the computer-aided sensors including gyroscopes and accelerometers which take into account all the factors that a sniper scout would look for; wind, speed of the target, distance, snipers orientation, ammunition caliber, even curvature of the earth.

I asked Steve Ashe, a veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield, who collaborated closely with the sniper team what he thought about such technology. “Trained scouts and snipers must master a set of physical and mental skills that is beyond the reach of most people. This type of rifle can never replace that. Besides being crack shooters, they are in excellent physical condition, able to do complicated calculations in their heads and have mastered field craft such as land navigation, stalking and range estimation.”

One of the features of the TrackingPoint rifle is the ability to video stream your shot and share the view from the scope to another device connected via Wi-Fi. It’s this connection to Wi-Fi that turned out to be the weak point. The gun’s network has a default password that cannot be changed.

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August 3rd, 2015

Nonprofit organization upgrades hardware with savings from Avast

NeighborImpact logo

NeighborImpact uses free Avast for Business to manage computers in multiple locations.

Nonprofit organizations operate on extremely tight budgets. Michael Hensley, Information and Facilities Officer at NeighborImpact doesn’t let that stand in the way of his organization’s mission. The Avast team recently spoke with Hensley about his work and how Avast for Business has helped him.

“We are a non-profit human-services agency serving 3 counties in central Oregon.” Hensley said, “Our staff is not very tech-savvy and we’ve had significant issues with that. We needed something simpler.”

Hensley recently switched NeighborImpact to Avast for Business security software and explained what made him choose the new cloud-based solution.

“The fact that it’s cloud-based is the primary feature that we needed. We have offices and classrooms distributed throughout the area. We are able to monitor all of our computers from the web-console which has shown consistent improvement.” Hensley went on to say that “viewing all of our devices from one place is really convenient.”

Hensley said that his nonprofit used to use Bitdefender but switched because it was too expensive.

“I was somewhat familiar with Avast. I knew it was a reputable company that had been around for a while. When I discovered Avast for Business and weighed the options it was the natural choice. It’s simple, cloud-based, and free.”

NeighborImpact was able to save enough of their precious budget by switching to Avast for Business to make a big impact on NeighborImpact’s server upgrade.

“The savings on software were extremely helpful in budgeting for our hardware upgrade. The extra money allowed us to get hardware in a different category than we otherwise would have been able to afford.”


Avast for Business can save your non-profit, company, or school money and time. Sign up on the Avast website.

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August 1st, 2015

Free Avast Cleanup app cleans and optimizes Android phones and tablets

Avast Cleanup is a free app for Android

Avast Cleanup is a free app for Android

After a while, your phones and tablets accumulate obsolete files and superfluous data, system caches, gallery thumbnails, and programs. This ‘junk’ slows down your device and eats up precious storage space.

Avast Cleanup identifies and cleans unwanted files from your Android device so it will run like a champ again.

Our new free app, Avast Cleanup & Boost for Android, cleans away all the unwanted files and programs so that your device is running smoothly and quickly with storage space to spare. But don’t take our word for it.

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