The Avast biweekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last 2 weeks .
March 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.
Speaking 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.
I run because I really REALLY like Beer!
Team Avast rocked it at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon.
World 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.
The 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.
With 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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, we celebrate World Backup Day with a reminder of how important it is to back up our data.
Data loss can occur when least expected, and it’s a shame that so many irreplaceable digital memories are lost. For businesses, it can be costly – the kind of costs that can close the doors!
So take the pledge today, and then get busy.
“I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”
What is a backup?
A backup is a second (and sometimes third) copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, home videos, documents and emails. It’s not something you do once a year and forget about; a good backup plan will be continuous and include multiple layers to not only recover your data but also include steps for data preservation.
The rule of thumb for backing up is
- 3 copies of anything you care about – Two isn’t enough if it’s important.
- 2 different formats – Example: Dropbox + DVDs or Hard Drive + Memory Stick or CD + Crash Plan, or more
- 1 off-site backup – If the house burns down, how will you get your memories back?
Experts advise that you store two copies of your files in external storage media. That can be a local drive on your computer, an external hard drive, you could print documents, burn a DVD, etc. You can backup important files or your entire computer. Another copy should be kept off-site. Many people use an “online drive” like Drop Box or Google Drive. “Cloud” backups are great for people who want to keep only their most important documents safe because there is usually only a certain amount of storage that’s free.
Don’t forget to back up the data on your mobile devices
Thirty seven percent of respondents we surveyed said they do not back up their data. Don’t wait until your device is lost or destroyed – today is the day to do your first backup!
If you have an Android mobile phone or tablet, install our free Avast Mobile Backup to back up your contacts, call logs, SMS text messages, and other data to your Avast account or Google Drive.
Devastation. The feeling you get when you realize your mobile phone is missing. All those photos, contacts, and other data- gone forever. Why? Because it wasn’t backed up.
Just in time for World Backup Day, Avast conducted a global survey to find out whether or not people back up data on their mobile devices. We received responses from 288,000 users in countries including the United States, Germany, India, Mexico, and Russia.
In order to get an idea of which kinds of data users store on their devices, we began the survey by asking respondents for what purposes they use their mobile devices aside from making calls and sending text messages. In response, we found that
- Two out of ten people use their mobile device to take photos
- 18% browse the Internet
- 17% listen to music/watch videos
- 16% use social networking apps like Facebook and LinkedIn
Why do people not back up their data?
Put simply, most people don’t think it is necessary to back up their data. Globally 36% and nearly half of Russians do not think it is necessary (48%).
Almost a quarter of the world attributes not backing up their data to laziness (24%). Thirty-two percent of Indian people admit that they are too lazy to do a back up.
Thirty-six percent of British respondents claimed not to back up their data because they believe their data is not valuable, compared to only 22% of global respondents citing this as their reason for not backing up their mobile data.
What is more valuable to mobile users: hardware or data?
Now that we established that lots of people don’t care about their data, are too lazy to prevent its loss, or don’t think its worth the trouble, we then asked users what they would be more upset about losing: their data (that has not been backed up) or their device (the hardware).
Globally, 64% of people would be more upset about losing their data that has not been backed up rather than the device itself. Respondents in Mexico backed up this claim most significantly, with 78% of Mexican users claiming they would be more upset about losing their data than losing their hardware.
Which data are people worried about losing?
Across the board, users were most heavily concerned about losing the contacts stored on their mobile device (25%) and photos (21%). Despite these concerns, 37% of respondents said they do not back up their data. Brazilians are the least likely to back up their data (45%), yet 64% of Brazilians would be upset about losing it.
Why you should back up your mobile data
We use our mobile devices to make important calls, capture valuable moments, browse the web, to use our favorite apps and so much more. Anything can happen to your mobile device in a split second; it could fall into the toilet, go missing (either through loss or theft) or even get run over by a car! Yet, as we discovered, many do not back up the data they consider indispensable.
How to back up your data
You can back up your data in many ways: by connecting your mobile device to a PC (like nearly one-third of global users do. See below.), connect to a Cloud service (like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive) or use a mobile back up app like Avast Mobile Backup.
When people actually do back up their data, how do they go about it?
The majority of those who do back up their data back it up on a monthly basis (41%), while another 8% back it up on a daily basis.
Most people back up their data by connecting to a PC (32%) — only 17% back up their data to the Cloud. When we inquired about this difference in numbers, 46% of users expressed their reluctance to back up to the Cloud due to privacy concerns. Germans were the most concerned about their privacy when it came to Cloud back up (61%), with Spanish (58%) and American (57%) respondents close behind them.
March 28th, 2015 – It was a gray and chilly Saturday morning when some of Avast’s fittest gathered to run in the 17th edition of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. As the biggest running event in the Czech Republic, this year’s race drew in over 12,000 participants. Thirteen brave Avastians ran the event’s full 21 kilometers and 12 (also brave) Avastians ran in relay teams. The relay teams consisted of four members, three of whom ran five kilometers and a fourth who ran six. The Avast runners chose to support the Committee of Good Will – Olga Havel Foundation, an organization that works to support handicapped, abandoned and discriminated individuals in their integration into society.
Let the race begin
The race took place in Prague’s historic city center along the Vltava River. Both the start and end points of the race were positioned in Jan Palach Square, named after Jan Palach, a student who immolated himself to protest the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969. At the starting line, I found myself stretching and warming up next to thousands of fellow participants. As we eagerly waited for the race to begin, some sort of miracle occurred – the sun’s rays made their way through the clouds, warming our cold bodies and lifting our spirits. Then, at noon, the starting pistol was fired and we began the race, appropriately accompanied by the sounds of Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau”. This celebrated piece of classical Czech music evokes the sounds of the Vltava River, the body of water that served as the backbone of the race.
Step out of your comfort zone
The Prague Half Marathon was the first official race that I’ve taken part in. I ran five kilometers as part of one of Avast’s three relay teams. Intimidating is definitely a word one could use when describing the experience — when the race began, literally thousands of people ran past me and it soon became somewhat of a struggle to keep up in the constant stream of runners. However, it was great having my colleagues there for moral support. During the first kilometer, one of my colleagues passed me, giving me a cheerful greeting en route to complete the race’s full 21 km.
As I ran, I let the Vltava’s breeze cool me off while I basked in the sun’s warmth and admired Prague’s breathtaking views. Within just two kilometers, I had passed some of the city’s most famous sites, including the Charles Bridge, National Theater, and Dancing House. Out of the corner of my eye, I could even see the Prague Castle on the other side of the river. Upon reaching the five kilometer mark, I handed my baton chip over to my teammate, who continued on and crossed the Vltava to meet our third runner.
Each of the Avast relay teams completed the half marathon in just under two hours. The individual runners, who ran the full length of the race, all finished within two and a half hours. To top it all off, Avast’s fastest runner, Adam Simek, came in 88th place out of the 12,500 runners who participated, completing the half marathon in a remarkable one hour and 18 minutes!
A message to my fellow Avast runners: You guys all did an amazing job and I hope you have all recuperated from the run I look forward to running with you again next year!
Do I really need security on my computer anymore?
Over the years, web standards have improved and the security of operating systems and browsers have become better. Because of these advances, some people question whether they need security protection at all. But you need to remember that in parallel to positive advances in protection, cybercrooks have improved their skills and become more stealthy and targeted.
Hackers are no longer mischievous kids breaking into government agencies because they can. “These days, cybercrooks have to make business driven-decisions like the rest of us because their resources are limited,” said Ondrek Vlcek, COO of Avast.
Current malware is often disguised as legitimate applications, malicious Android apps sneak by protocols of the huge download sites, and home and business networks are being attacked via weakly protected routers.
“Threats are no longer just targeting devices, but accounts and routers. A recent example is the iCloud hack where cybercrooks stole personal photos of more than 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton,” said Vlcek. “This attack happened via their account and can as well be the result of a router hack. No matter which device you use, all Internet traffic flows through your router so you have to make sure it is secure. You don’t have to be Jennifer Lawrence to be attacked.
Not your father’s antivirus protection
Antivirus protection has come a long way since it scanned individual files. Avast has taken modern virus protection to a high art with real-time updates and heuristic scans that detect new threats it’s never even seen before.
Avast performs so well in protecting against “real-world” threats such as Trojans, worms and viruses as well as web and email threats, that it just received the AV-TEST certification for our home user products.
Avast scored perfectly in the detection of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, and had very little incidence of disruptions caused by false positives. Our consumer products have basically no measurable impact on the performance of the computer while doing things that the average user does on a daily basis: Visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs and copying data.
Where you physically place your router makes a difference – not only to the signal, but to your security.
Think of your router like you would a cordless phone’s base. If you wander too far away from the base station, your call may drop or have static interference. If your wireless devices, like your laptop, are out of your router’s range, then your connection speed can slow down to an annoying crawl or your connection may drop.
Generally, a Wi-Fi router should work well for about 100 ft (30m) in every direction. If your walls are thin or your router is placed in the wrong location, you could be helping a thief steal your bandwidth.
Here are 5 things you can do to optimize your reception and reduce the chance of your neighbor piggy backing on your signal:
- 1. Place your router in a central location. For the optimal coverage, place the router in the middle of the desired coverage area. Think about all the devices you are using along with their location, and place the router at a mid-point and as high as possible so the signal gets dispersed throughout the area.
- 2. Avoid walls, ceilings or shelves. If the signal has to go around corners, or through walls, ceilings or shelves, then it will have a hard time getting to your device. Insulated walls, or ones made of brick or concrete can impede the signal. Even fish tanks (it’s the water that’s the problem) and mirrors can have an effect.
- 3. Place appliances far away from the router. Appliances operate on the same frequency as routers, so avoid placing the router close to cordless phones, microwaves, or TVs.
- 4. Name your Wi-Fi something alarming. Follow the trend to rename your Wi-Fi network to something that will potentially scare would-be thieves from mooching off your Wi-Fi connection. The name “FBI Surveillance Van” was popular a few years ago, or use my favorite c:\virus.exe.
- Better yet – set up a password for your network with WPA2 encryption. Read more about securing your router from 12 ways to boost your router’s security.
- 5. Put up Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper. Decorate your room and block your Wi-Fi signal at the same time. MetaPaper is wallpaper that helps businesses and home users improve the security of their data and protect their Wi-Fi networks from intruders. Re-setting your password is definitely cheaper, but this is a clever innovation especially for business owners concerned about their data security.
Avast Home Network Security scans a user’s home network and routers for potential security issues that could allow a hacker attack. The scan looks for misconfigured Wi-Fi networks, exposes weak or default Wi-Fi passwords, vulnerable routers, compromised Internet connections, and enabled, but not protected, IPv6. It also lists all devices on the network so you can make sure only your known devices are connected.
To run a scan on your home network, open the Avast user interface and click on Scan>Scan for network threats. If Avast finds a vulnerability it will guide you on how to fix it.
Stay safe on public Wi-Fi while watching the game from anywhere in the world with Avast SecureLine VPN.
March Madness is in full swing — this year’s NCAA Tournament is now in its second week and we’re already down to the Sweet 16. When you think about March Madness, you probably think about your bracket, your favorite college basketball teams, and the bets you’ll place on those who you think will win the tournament. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of March Madness, it’s the betting process that you should really be paying attention to: this popular activity serves as the perfect opportunity for hackers to access your personal information.
Since most people watch the NCAA games in bars or cafes with friends, they make the majority of their bets using their mobile devices while connected to public and often unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they‘re not safe. Cybercrooks can easily access and steal personal data when you‘re connected to these unprotected networks. Even if you’re transmitting data from one HTTPS site to another, it’s the connection in-between the two sites that really puts your data at risk. Additionally, developments such as real-time betting make the odds for getting hacked even greater.
During March Madness, a time of year when so many financial transactions are being made, cybercrooks are especially likely to steal your banking info (e.g. your credit card and/or account numbers) and personal info (e.g. your social security number, social media accounts, etc.). Avast SecureLine VPN for Android and updated for iOS devices keeps these cybercrooks at bay and securely allows you to use your PCs, smartphones, and tablets on unsecure Wi-Fi networks while participating in March Madness at your favorite bar or cafe.
“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, COO at AVAST. “We created Avast SecureLine VPN to allow users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”
Watch content from all over the world
You don’t have to miss a single game or your favorite program while you are traveling. SecureLine VPN makes it look like you’re connected from a different location, allowing you to view ‘local’ content anywhere because your shown geo-IP address will be different from your real one.
Keep your data and identity safe using Avast SecureLine
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Avast SecureLine VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything – inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since Avast SecureLine masks your IP address.
For those of you interested in technical specs, here are the highlights:
- Avast Secureline VPN uses OpenVPN protocol.
- The encryption used is 256bit AES.
- Communication on all ports is encrypted.
How to get Avast SecureLine
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.
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.
Fake Flash Player updates fool Facebook users.
Facebook users have fallen victim to a recycled scam, and we want to make sure that all of our readers are fore-warned. Cybercrooks use social engineering tactics to fool people into clicking, and when the bait comes from a trusted friend on Facebook, it works very well.
Here’s how the scam works – your friend sends you an interesting video clip; in the latest iteration you are tagged and lots of other friends are also tagged – this makes it seem more trustworthy. The video stops a few seconds in and when you click on it, a message that your Flash Player needs to be updated for it to continue comes up. Since you have probably seen messages from Adobe to update your Flash Player, this does not raise any red flags. Being conscientious about updating your software, as well as curious about what happens next in the video, you click the link. That’s when the fun really begins.
The fake Flash Player is actually the downloader of a Trojan that infects your account. Security researcher Mohammad Faghani, told The Guardian, …” once it infects someone’s account, it re-shares the clip while tagging up to 20 of their friends – a tactic that helps it spread faster than previous Facebook-targeted malware that relied on one-to-one messaging on Facebook.”
How to protect yourself from Facebook video scams
Don’t fall for it. Videos that are supposedly sensational or shocking are also suspect. Be very cautious when clicking.
Does your friend really watch this stuff? If it seems out of character for your friend to share something like that with you, beware. Their account may have been infected by malware, and it’s possible they don’t even know this is being shared. Do them a favor and tell them about it.
Be careful of shortened links. The BBB says that scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t recognize the link destination, don’t click.
Use up-to-date antivirus software like Avast Free Antivirus with full real-time protection.
Report suspicious activity to Facebook. If your account was compromised, make sure to change your password.