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December 10th, 2015

Digital toy company hack exposes information and risks kids’ privacy

Internet-connected toys gather data on the user and have weak security compared to other computer products.

vtech-innotab

Data stolen from children today can be used to build profiles that will cause trouble for them in the future

Digital devices and toys like cameras, smartwatches, and tablets may be on your child’s Christmas wish list. But more parents are having second thoughts about placing these items under the tree, because Internet-connected toys gather data on the user and have weak security compared to other computer products.

6 million children’s accounts taken by a hacker

This weakness was made very public during the Black Friday shopping bonanza, when a Hong Kong-based digital toy company called VTech lost databases of more than 6 million children and almost 5 million connected parental accounts to a hacker.

By putting the databases together the hacker was able to retrieve personally identifiable information like children’s names, ages, and genders, and even pictures and chat logs were found. Parents’ names, email addresses, secret questions and answers, IP addresses, encrypted passwords, and mailing addresses were also accessed. Supposedly the breach did not include credit card or financial account information exposure.

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December 9th, 2015

Avast Endpoint Protection and Server Security products now compatible with Windows 10

Image via PCWorld

No one should have to choose between security and the latest technology. At Avast, it’s important to us that we support our valued business customers and create innovative features that keep businesses secure and ahead of the bad guys.

That being so, Avast is happy to announce that our Avast Endpoint Protection and Server Security products are now fully compatible with Windows 10!

How you can get the compatibility update

To get the latest and greatest functionality of these products, you simply need to run the program update. Then, you’re all set to go! After upgrading to the latest version of your program, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy using our award-winning business solutions together with Windows 10.

Visit our website to learn more about Avast business security solutions and the benefits they can bring to your business.


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December 8th, 2015

Autumn 2015: A season full of Android conferences

David Vávra is our team’s talented Google Developer Expert (GDE) for Android. Throughout this autumn, he attended a collection of valuable Android conferences. In this post, David walks us through his experiences and outlines his most interesting takeaways from the conferences.

Droidcon Stockholm (September 3-4)

 

Droidcon Stockholm was a two-day event held in Debaser Medis, a classic rock club in Stockholm. As you might imagine, it proved to be an interesting venue for a tech conference! The organization was  a little more “punk” than most other conferences, but the conference was still jam-packed with talks containing strong content and served as a great opportunity to network with fellow industry professionals. Fun fact: Czech beers are quite popular in Stockholm. We visited a place where they served five different Czech beers on tap.

One talk that I found to be especially useful discussed building Android SDKs from Fabric, a platform for mobile developers from Twitter. It was also interesting to take a closer look at Spotify’s automated testing environment in a talk Sustainable test automation. As for me, my presentation at the conference dealt with Android TV development. All the Droidcon talks can be found here.

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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.


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December 3rd, 2015

6 ways to protect your credit cards this holiday shopping season

Protect your credit cards from theft and fraud with these simple tips.

At this time of the year, your credit cards see a lot of action – online and at the stores. Credit card fraud takes place every day, but in the holiday shopping season you need to be extra diligent to keep cybercooks from getting hold of your cards and card numbers. Here are six easy tips that even the least tech-savvy among us can follow.

Christmas shopping online

Make it tough for cybercrooks to steal your credit card number

Keep a record of your cards

Some people scan their cards and save the copies on their laptop, others write all the numbers down and keep them in a safe place. Whatever method you choose, keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud.

Watch your accounts closely

When online shopping, it’s safer to use a credit card than a debit card. Credit cards come with consumer protections against fraud that debit cards do not have. Check your account regularly during the season for any strange charges and report the activity as soon as you can. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24 hour service if you lose your card.

Another good practice is to use a single credit card for your online purchases. It’s easier to manage the account, as well as your holiday gift spending budget, without lots of other miscellaneous charges cluttering the statement.

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December 1st, 2015

How many people connect to unknown Wi-Fi hotspots without even knowing?

An Avast team calling themselves the Security Warriors, comprised of intra-departmental specialists, are running experiments in the streets of San Francisco. They spent a few days setting up the first of them and have already gathered some interesting statistics. In Filip‘s words, here is what they have done so far and what they want to achieve. 

Security Warriors

Filip Chytrý , president of mobile Gagan Singh, Bára Štěpánová, Jaroslav Slaby, and Vladislav Iliushin. Not pictured: Ondrej David

One of our first experiment’s objectives is to analyze people’s behavior by seeing how they have their devices preset in terms of outside communication. We didn’t have to go far to find out – it’s pretty disturbing. Currently, we have a variety of devices prepared for different traffic experiments but now we are using them for one really easy target – to analyze how many people connect to a fake hotspot. We created fake Wi-Fi networks called Xfinity, Google Starbucks, and Starbucks. From what we’ve noticed, Starbucks is one of the most widespread networks here, so it’s pretty easy to get people’s devices to connect to ours.

wifi hotspot

Wi-Fi networks screen

 

What is the problem we’re trying to point out?

Once your device connects to a known SSID name at your favorite cafe, the next time you visit, it will automatically try to connect to a network with the same name. This common occurrence becomes a problem because it can be misused by a hacker.   Read more…


November 27th, 2015

Is Facebook‘s “Most used words” quiz a privacy thief?

The “Most used words” app became a Facebook hit within days of its launch. At the moment of writing this article, it has been used by nearly 18 million users globally. There are many controversies about user privacy in relation to data that is collected by the app.

“Most Used Words“ is an unexpected privacy nightmare. Source http://en.vonvon.me/

“Most Used Words“ is an unexpected privacy nightmare. Source http://en.vonvon.me/

Earlier this week, the British company Comparitech published a blog post about the privacy nightmare caused by this innocent-looking Facebook app. “Most used words” is presented as a simple, playful quiz in which Facebook scans through and analyzes users‘ posts in order to generate a collection of words they use most frequently on Facebook. Sounds like fun, right? Before you try it yourself, take a closer look at this data-hungry wolf in sheep’s clothing – after some analysis of the app, it has turned out to be a privacy thief. When using the app, users give away following details:

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November 26th, 2015

Can shopping extensions help you find the best prices?

SafePrice protects your privacy while finding the best online prices.

The holiday shopping season is upon us and shoppers are flocking to the Web to find online deals and coupons. Shopping extensions for your web browser can help you find the best prices, but how do you know you are finding a great deal from a SAFE and trusted retailer?

There are several shopping tools that can help you find the lowest price from around the web, but I’ll start with the one that finds low prices and guarantees the safety and integrity of the online shop – Avast’s very own SafePrice.

Avast SafePrice finds the best prices from trusted retailers

SafePrice find the best deals from TRUSTED online shops

Instead of visiting price comparison sites first, all you do is go to your favorite online store and pick out what you want to buy. SafePrice checks the price against thousands of verified stores, then displays the best deals and coupons at the very top of your browser. The bar is invisible when you’re not shopping.

Avast users already have SafePrice installed. If you are not an Avast user, but wnat to use it to find trusted stores, then add the extension to Chrome from the Chrome Web Store.

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November 25th, 2015

‘Tis the Season to Shop Online

The holiday season is coming up and we expect that many will opt to shop online to avoid the big crowds in city centers, malls and stores. 

In America, Cyber Monday, the cyber version of shopping day Black Friday, was born in the mid 2000s. Cyber Monday sales have steadily increased since its inception and according to IBM Digital Analytics, sales grew 8.5% in 2014. According to ComScore, purchases are now also being made from smartphones with overall spending from mobile devices in the millions.

Americans aren’t the only ones who have embraced Cyber Monday, many other retailers around the world have come together to offer deals on the Monday after U.S. Thanksgiving and in China, Singles’ Day (November 11th) has become a major ecommerce day with 27,000 online merchants participating in 2014

via v3.co.uk

via v3.co.uk

This is not only an exciting time for online retailers and online shoppers but also for cyber criminals. I spoke with our senior malware analyst, Jaromír Hořejší about how cybercriminals are preparing for Cyber Monday:

Read more…


November 20th, 2015

Facebook Safety Check feature allows users to connect with loved ones during a disaster

Facebook's Safety Check feature allows users to connect with friends and loved ones during a disaster.

Facebook’s Safety Check feature allows users to connect with friends and loved ones during a disaster.

Facebook’s Safety Check feature was created in October 2014 in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. In a Facebook post about the feature, Mark Zuckerburg described the mission of the feature:

Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they’re safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most.

This is how it works:

1. Facebook will prompt users that might be in the area of a natural disaster to inform others about their status using the Safety Check feature.

2. Users can click the “I’m safe“ button to let their Facebook friends know that they are safe.

3. Facebook will alert you of friends that used Safety Check and allow you to look over the list of friends who could potentially be affected by the disaster.

Safety Check is only offered to individuals that are located in a disaster area. Although the feature was originally created to respond to natural disasters, it has recently been utilized to help users connect with others in the wake of social crises. Zuckerberg told CNET that Facebook is still developing the policy to determine exactly when Safety Check will be activated. He was also quoted saying that he won’t post each time Safety Check is activated because “unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common.”

For more information about Safety Check, you can read through Facebook’s page about the feature.


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