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May 20th, 2015

New ASUS ZenPad to come with Avast Mobile Security

ASUS partners with Avast

ASUS partners with Avast

ASUS, the third largest consumer notebook vendor in the world, has selected Avast Mobile Security to be pre-loaded on its new line of Android powered tablets.

These tablets, called ZenPad, will be debuted at the upcoming Computex in Taiwan this June. The much anticipated 7-inch ZenPad 7 will give customers 12 months of Avast Mobile Security and allow free access to premium versions of Avast Backup and Avast Anti-theft.

“Avast is honored to collaborate with ASUS to provide consumers with the security to remain worry free in today’s always-on and always-connected world,” said Vince Steckler, CEO at Avast. “Consumers are relying on tablets for personal computing more than ever before, and storing massive data and information on these devices. With Avast Mobile Security preloaded on ASUS devices, today’s mobile consumer can have peace of mind browsing the Internet, knowing their devices and personal data are protected across a wide range of threats from malware to Wi-Fi hacks.”

Details of the ASUS ZenPad 7 have been leaked and are reported to have the following specs:

  • 7-inch IPS display screen
  • 1024 x 600 pixel resolution
  • Intel Atom x3
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB/16 GB built-in storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Front/back cameras
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Other models with Avast Mobile Security pre-installed include Z300C, Z380/CX, Z370C and Z370CG.

Avast Mobile Security is top-rated by users on Google Play Store and by independent testing organizations including AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. In addition to being available preloaded on ASUS tablets, Avast solutions are available on Google Play and in the Apple Store.

May 12th, 2015

5 questions with: Tomáš Heřmanský (Product Manager)

Tomáš Heřmanský

Tomáš joined Avast in March 2014 as a Product Manager for Avast Mobile Security. Born in Čáslav, a small town in central Bohemia, he moved to Prague during high school with plans to study at the Police Academy of the Czech Republic. After a while, Tom decided he wanted to study and work in IT instead. After gaining experience while working at a successful Czech startup, taking on jobs as a freelancer and starting his own company focused on cloud document management, Tom joined Avast’s mobile team. In his free time, Tom enjoys climbing, cycling, writing and restoring his classic Škoda 1000 MB car.


 

1. What is Avast’s mobile team out to accomplish?

We’d like to become the most trusted mobile tools developer, allowing users to live their lives with their mobile devices safely and more easily.

2. Who or what helps you in coming up with new, creative ideas?

My colleagues are a huge inspiration to me. That’s one thing that I really enjoy about working at Avast – anyone and everyone can come up with new ideas to brainstorm. We are one big think tank. :)

3. What’s one thing that every user should know about his/her mobile device?

Users should be aware of the risks that mobile malware poses to their personal information and data. Although malware on mobile devices is less likely to break a user’s device than that of a PC, malicious apps can harvest and steal a lot of personal data. Even apps that aren’t malicious (often free apps) can access a lot of personal information. The more personal info that is shared, the more likely it is that a user’s privacy could become compromised.

4. What’s your favorite security tip?

Make sure to be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Packet sniffing, or the monitoring of data traveling over a network, can be used to steal information and is very easy for hackers to carry out. It’s in your best interest to use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to unsecured networks.

5. Name one goal you’ve set for yourself at Avast.

I’d like to see Avast Mobile Security (AMS) become the most popular app that provides users with a straightforward, user-friendly overview of app permissions. AMS is an extremely versatile app with lots of potential, and I envision it serving as a true “guarding angel” for users, protecting them against mobile malware and allowing them to become familiar with the apps they use on a daily basis.


 

Avast’s mobile team recently held the second Avast Mobile Internal Conference (AMIC) in Prague, where the entire team came together to keep one another in the loop about the company’s apps and products, team activities, and goals for the department’s future. A series of lectures and interactive activities encouraged synergy and collaboration between product teams. In addition to everything that was accomplished at AMIC, the mobile team still managed to have quite a bit of fun at the conference. We’d like to congratulate the mobile department on this successful and productive event!

 

 

May 5th, 2015

BYOD increases the need for Anti-Theft protection

smartphone and tablet

The convenience of BYOD can go down the drain if the employee loses their device. Protect it with Avast Anti-Theft.

Small business owners embrace the idea of employees supplying their own computers, smartphones, and tablets in the workplace. But the savings and convenience can go down the drain if the employee falls prey to a phishing scam and downloads malware or loses their device. Protecting mobile devices has become increasingly more important as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) grows in popularity.

Technical security measures to protect information are of obvious importance. However, many security incidents relate to the theft or loss of equipment.

We can write multiple blog posts about BYOD policies and educating your employees about the latest threats and tricks that cybercrooks play (spearphishing, for example), which is all extremely important, but if you simply lose your device, then all bets are off anyway. You can avoid headaches in the case of misplaced or stolen devices by having a way to remotely locate the missing device and wiping the data away if it ends up in the wrong hands.

Avast Anti-Theft allows users to log on to their desktop account or use a friend’s phone to remotely locate their device, lock it, activate the remote siren, or wipe its data clean.

Learn 5 ways to thwart the thief who stole your Android.

Business owners also need to consider what to do about company data on an employee’s personal device when they are terminated or leave the company. Some companies have resorted to wiping personal devices clean of all data, but that includes contacts, family photos, apps and music, which can lead to unpleasant lawsuits or complaints from former employees. Mobile device management systems (MDMs) are available, but could be overkill for very small businesses.

If you only have a few employees, and do not require a full-blown MDM, then Install Avast Anti-Theft for free from the Google Play store to protect your own devices and those of your employees.

 

May 1st, 2015

TGIF: Avast news wrap up for April 18 – May 1

The Avast bi weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.

Woman using smartphoneMost everyone knows their PC needs antivirus protection, but they don’t think about their smartphone. These days smartphones are just about as powerful and have as much or more personal information as our desktop PC at home. We answer the question do Android devices really need protection?

Avast finds porn clicker app named Dubsmash 2 on Google PlayThe answer is a resounding YES. The Avast Virus Lab gives us an example from a trusted download source, Google Play: A porn clicker app slipped into Google Play imitating the popular Dubsmash app. If we cannot completely rely on trusted app stores to weed out nasty apps, then it’s time to add an extra layer of security.

AV-Comparatives internet study 2015Once you decide that you do want to protect your Android device, you can be confident in Avast Mobile Security, Avast’s free security app available on Google Play. A survey by AV -Comparatives said that Avast was the #1 choice for mobile security in the entire world. No need to wait any longer to protect your smartphone or tablet.

newABSOne of the challenges with using a smartphone for so many activities, is that the battery gives out before we do. Our new free app Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi based smart profiles that can increase battery life by an average of 7 hours.

battery-saver-infographics-EN one sectionAvast Battery Saver has only been available for a month or so but already 200,000 customers have downloaded it from the Google Play Store. For Earth Day we highlighted battery saver users for their positive impact on the environment. Who knew that Avast Battery Saver would be so green? A cool infographic shows just how much they saved -  not only from their own battery -  but in energy costs too. Now Earth Day can be everyday!

office-workersSmall and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) run the risk of data breaches just like there Enterprise cousins. Luke Walling, the General Manager of Avast for Business, explains that the biggest threat to SMBs is not actually hackers sitting somewhere far away. The biggest threat to your SMB could be sitting in your office!

blog3-enSpeaking of Avast for Business, our new disruptive free security offering for SMBs has 75,000 new customers in just 2 months. If you have a start-up, a small business, if you work in a school or non-profit organization, then it’s time to stop paying for security protection.

Cybercrooks use lots of tricksOur researchers are constantly surprised by the creativity of malware authors. Recently, they found a new way cybercrooks trick people in giving up their banking information. It’s a crafty combination of spam email, social engineering, and a macro code embedded in an innocent looking Word document.

usb_hub_robotMost people have security protection on their computers. That’s great when there are things like the banking malware we wrote about. With all that great protection why is it that they don’t trust the warnings? The Avast Virus Lab explored why some people would rather be right than believe a malware warning.

April 30th, 2015

PCs require antivirus. Smartphones don’t. Right?

Woman using smartphone

That smartphone means a lot to her. Protect it from hackers and thieves with Avast Mobile Security.

It’s very common to find people concerned about Windows viruses and malware that say, “Oh, my PC is protected by Avast Antivirus, but we don’t need it for our smartphones and tablets.”

With more than 230 million Avast Antivirus customers, we see “only” 60 million or so Android users of Avast Mobile Security. Many more mobile devices are sold every second than desktops and notebooks together. Why are people not as concerned about the security of their smartphone as their desktop?

The AV-Comparatives survey that we wrote about yesterday  in Avast Mobile Security is the #1 choice for Android users says that Android users in North America protect their phones more than anywhere else in the world with 31 percent of respondents reporting they have protection. South America, Asia, and Europe are much lower at 17 percent.

What about the rest of the Android users?

- Do you realize that mobile malware is increasing?

- Do you realize that you (most probably) have much more personal info in your smartphone than your PC? Like photos, selfies, contacts, videos, and also banking and financial information.

- What if one of your apps is using your personal info against you like the Dubsmash 2 app we just discovered?

Your Android device needs protection

Avast Mobile Security is a complete suite for Android protection. It is completely focused on security and privacy features.

Maybe you have a friend or your girlfriend that should be reading this… Take this opportunity to introduce them to Avast Mobile Security and teach them some tips about mobile security. Maybe we’ll see a better protected world if we reduce the number of unprotected devices and the cybercrooks have more work to steal from innocents. Download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.

Earn free Avast Mobile Premium

In the latest update of Avast Mobile Security, 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. Cool, huh?

Do your good action today: Tell someone you care about that smartphones and tablets need to have a security app installed and updated..

 

April 29th, 2015

Avast Mobile Security is the #1 choice for Android users

The most popular mobile security product in the world is Avast Mobile Security.

In their annual IT Security Survey, AV – Comparatives asked, Which mobile anti-malware security solution do you primarily use on your smartphone?

Avast took 1st or 2nd place on four continents: Europe, North America, Asia, and South/Central America.

 Avast Mobile Security is #1 Android protection.

Don’t get burned! Protect your Android with Avast Mobile Security.

 

How great is the risk of infection on an Android smartphone?

The risk of your Android smartphone becoming infected depends on several factors. In the US and Europe most people use official stores such as Google Play for installing apps. The risk is much lower than in many Asian countries, especially China, where app stores are not subject to stricter controls. Because of these unofficial app stores, along with numerous rooted phones, the chance of installing a dangerous app is highly increased.

In Asia, the smartphone is often used as an alternative to the PC. People frequently use it for online banking which make them vulnerable to Zeus Trojan malware. Zeus is commonly delivered via a link or an attachment in a phishing message or through a text message via WhatsApp, SMS, or Twitter. This threat will similarly increase in Europe and the US as banking apps get more popular.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

The Avast Virus Lab has more than one million samples of mobile malware in its database, and reports that 2,850 new mobile threats are created every day by hackers. The threat situation can change quickly and dramatically so it is best to use preventative protection and install security software on your smartphone. At this point though, protecting important data in the event that your phone is lost or stolen is more critical than malware protection.

The AV-Comparatives survey says that Android users in North America protect their phones more than anywhere else in the world with 31 percent of respondents reporting they have protection. South America, Asia, and Europe are much lower at 17 percent.

Protect your Android smartphone and tablet with Avast Mobile Security and Avast Anti-Theft: Free from the Google Play store.

 

April 24th, 2015

Porn clicker app slipped into Google Play imitating popular Dubsmash app

Everyone from celebrities like Lena Dunham to Hugh Jackman are using the (currently) seventh most popular app available on Google Play: Dubsmash. Dubsmash is an app with more than 10 million Google Play installations that lets users choose a sound, record a video to go along with the sound and send their dub to their friends or social media channels. Dubsmash is not only widely popular amongst teens and celebs, but the app has also caught the attention of malware authors.

Avast finds porn clicker app named Dubsmash 2 on Google Play

Google removed the rouge app after Avast notified them

Avast recently discovered “Dubsmash 2” (with the package name “com.table.hockes”) on Google Play – and no, it was not the bigger and better version of the original app. The app is a so called “porn clicker” and was installed 100,000-500,000 times from the Google Play Store. We contacted Google when we discovered the rogue app and it was removed from the Play Store shortly thereafter. Once the app was installed there was no evidence of an app named “Dubsmash 2” on the user’s device, instead the app installed an app icon named “Setting IS”. This is a common trick malware authors use to make it harder for the user to figure out which app is causing problems. This should also be the user’s first clue that something shady is going on. The “Settings IS” icon looked very similar to the actual Android Settings icon (see screenshot below).

The app’s mischievous activities could be triggered by two actions. The first possible way was by simply launching the “Settings IS” app and the second, which occurred only if the user had not yet launched the app, was via the BroadcastReceiver component within the app. BroadcastReceiver observed the device’s Internet connectivity and  if the BroadcastReceiver noticed the device was connected to the Internet, the app’s true functions would be triggered.

If the “Settings IS” app was opened by the user, the Google Play Store would launch to the actual “Dubsmash” app download page.

Porn clicker "Settings IS"

The rogue icon looked very similar to the Android Settings icon

Once activated, the app sent an HTTP GET request to an encrypted URL. If the request returned a string containing the character “1”  two services would begin to work: MyService and Streaming. Using this method the author could also effectively turn off the start of the services remotely.

The MyService service began by deleting the “Settings IS” app icon from the device’s main menu and scheduled a task to run every 60 seconds in the background of the device, meaning the user never realized that anything was happening. The task would download a list of links to various porn sites from an encrypted URL stored within the app, along with JavaScript execution code. One of the porn links from the list would be launched in the browser and after ten seconds, the JavaScript code (also downloaded from an encrypted URL) was executed, clicking further links within the porn site. In the case seen in the picture below, the function opened a random link from the web page.

Porn links app opened

The developer probably made money on pay-per-click ads.

The second service, the Streaming service, was fairly similar in structure to the MyService component in that it also scheduled a task to run every 60 seconds. The main difference to MyService, is that users could notice the Service tasks did not run secretly in the background. The task would check for changes in the device’s IP address or date. If either of them had changed, a video would launch in the device’s YouTube app. The YouTube app needed to be installed on the device for this to function properly. The video address was also obtained from an encrypted URL.

code_screen_1

The encrypted URLs used by the app

After decrypting and further examining the URLs and the video from YouTube, the Avast Virus Lab came to the conclusion that the malware most likely originated from Turkey. The developer’s name listed on Google Play and YouTube hint to this.

We suspect the app developer used the porn clicker method for financial gain. Through clicks on multiple ads within the porn sites, the app developer probably received pay-per-click earnings from advertisers who thought he was displaying their ads on websites for people to actually see.

Despite being undesirable, but basically harmless to the user and less sophisticated than other malware families such as Fobus or Simplocker, this app shows that although there are safeguards in place, undesirable apps that fool users can still slip into the Google Play store.

If you installed Dubsmash 2 (package name “com.table.hockes”), you can delete the app by going into Settings -> Apps -> find “Settings IS” and then uninstall the app.

The Avast Mobile Security application detects this threat as Android:Clicker. SHA-256 hash: de98363968182c27879aa6bdd9a499e30c6beffcc10371c90af2edc32350fac4

Thank you Nikolaos Chrysaidos for your help with the analysis :)

April 23rd, 2015

Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi-based smart profiles

Avast Battery Saver increases battery life by an average of 7 hours.

Avast Battery Saver increases battery life by an average of 7 hours.

We’ve recently told you about Avast Battery Saver, an application which saves your Android’s power without hassle. It optimizes phone settings such as Internet connectivity, screen brightness, and timeout according to your needs. We’d now like to announce an exciting new feature of the app: Wi-Fi-based smart power profiles. These profiles are activated automatically based on designated local Wi-Fi networks that are detected.  Users can now assign specific wireless networks to be used within their home or work smart profiles. Not only are Wi-Fi-based profiles more precise than GPS-based profiles, but they are also more efficient and require less energy to detect.

In contrast to other battery-saving applications, Avast Battery Saver learns about your daily routine and thus suggests the best smart profiles for your phone. It doesn’t require you to change your behavior or usage, nor does it affect voice calls, text messages, or the ring volume of your phone.

“Everyone needs more battery life for their mobile devices, but most battery savers shut down the wrong apps,” said Jude McColgan, Avast’s President of Mobile. “Avast Battery Saver learns which apps are most important to the user, and shuts down only those that are less used.”

Avast Battery Saver significantly improves battery life, saving up to 20% on one charge — and it’s free from the Google Play Store.

New Wi-Fi-based profiles have been added to make the app’s convenient features significantly more efficient

 

  • Smart profiles activate automatically based on time, location, user-designated Wi-Fi networks and battery level.
  • App consumption detects and permanently stops apps that drain too much battery life.
  • Precise estimate of remaining battery life based on actual phone usage and historical data. Battery level is displayed in a percentage and time remaining in status bar notification.
  • The application can turn off Wi-Fi when there are no known hotspots nearby.
  • Your phone limits connections to the Internet to every 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes, based on your current profile configuration, when its screen is turned off.
  • Emergency mode is activated when your battery level is very low, and it turns off all functions that require significant energy, saving power for when you really need it (e.g. Wi-Fi, data connection, Bluetooth or GPS).

 

The app currently works with the following four profiles: Home, Work, Night, and Super-Saving Emergency Mode. You can easily access the list of profiles by clicking the Smart Profiles button on the app’s home screen. Avast Battery Saver is available for download in the Google Play Store.

April 17th, 2015

TGIF: Avast news wrap-up for April 3 – 17

The Avast bi-weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.

house cleaning serviceSpring has sprung and it’s time to clean the dust and grime away after a long winter. In a departure from our regular security-oriented blog posts, we share 10 spring cleaning tips to combat grime. Don’t forget you can also clean your mobile devices! But you barely have to lift a finger because Avast GrimeFighter Safe Clean will remove the grime from your Android mobile devices with the touch of a button. If only window washing were so easy!

Screenshot_shieldsIndependent testing lab AV-TEST gave their coveted certification to our popular mobile security application, Avast Mobile Security. If you are still on the fence regarding protecting your Android smartphone then read How to find the best protection for your Android phone? Independent tests.

Don't forgetMany smartphone owners are more worried about losing their device then they are about becoming infected with malware. That’s why we created Avast Anti-Theft. Make sure you have the latest version of our free app so if your phone gets lost, you can track it via your My Avast account or using SMS notifications from your friend’s phone. Turned Android auto-updates off? Manually update Anti-Theft to stay protected. explains how you can use Avast Anti -Theft to recover your lost Android device.

Battery-Saver--1920x1200The mobile development team released a handy little app called Avast Battery Saver. This free app from Google Play helps you save some battery power. But not just any app can do it. The blog post Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps gives us the scoop on apps that promise to save battery life with task cleaning.

How to use Avast productsHow to extend the life of your phone’s battery is a question that we all have when the juice starts running out. The Avast Battery Saver app can help save about 20% but there are other ways to save battery life. We give you the tips and also share the future of smartphone batteries.

laptop using Wi-FiThe unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot at the local cafe can be bad news if thieves capture your login credentials. Android users with Avast Mobile Security have a built-in feature called Wi-Fi Security that warns them if any issues are detected. We are now seeking iOS beta testers for an app called Avast SecureMe that will include the same type of feature for iPhone users. Check our blog Wi-Fi Security feature foolproofs your network connections both in public and at home and scroll down to the bottom for the beta test sign up link.

Mousetrap with cheeseCybercrooks use a variety of attack vectors to reach their victims. Targeted spearphishing attacks use email messages to trick people into providing sensitive information while malicious apps for Android disguise themselves as innocent games. The scary ransomware locks up all your files and demands ransom for the key to unlock it – on both PCs and and mobile devices! Avast keeps you aware of cybercrooks latest tricks in Don’t take the bait: Beware of web attack techniques.

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April 16th, 2015

Wi-Fi Security feature foolproofs your network connections both in public and at home

Wi-Fi Security feature protects your network connections both in public and at home

Protect your Wi-Fi connections using Avast’s Wi-Fi Security feature.

Wi-Fi Security is a feature that is available for Android users within the Avast Mobile Security app as well as within Avast SecureMe for iOS. The feature’s job is to scan Wi-Fi connections and notify you if it finds any security issues including routers with weak passwords, unsecured wireless networks, and routers with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

While conducting user testing, we found that 22% of Avast Mobile Security users make use of the Wi-Fi Security feature, making it the 2nd most used feature within Avast Mobile Security.

“Avast SecureMe and Avast Mobile Security offer users a simple, one-touch solution to find and choose safe networks to protect themselves from the threat of stolen personal data,” said Jude McColgan.

Wi-Fi Security scan notifies you of any issues that are detected

From all the users who tested the Wi-Fi Security feature, more than 10% of the scans performed returned some kind of problem, such as the use of non-encrypted passwords or a router that is susceptible to security threats. The Wi-Fi Security feature currently performs checks for the following four key elements:

  • Non-encrypted, unsecured wireless networks
  • Networks with weak encryption
  • Weak router passwords
  • Routers with known security issues

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, thieves can capture your log in credentials which can lead to identify theft. On unprotected Wi-Fi networks, thieves can also easily see emails, browsing history, and personal data if you do not use a secure or encrypted connection like a virtual private network (VPN). See our global Wi-Fi hacking experiment to see how widespread the threat really is.

Wi-Fi Security offers two solutions to defend against malware threats

After the Wi-Fi Security feature has scanned your device, you’re presented with two options:

1) Launch Avast SecureLine VPN

2) Click the ‘How to resolve’ button

The first of the two options is meant to be used when you’re connecting to public networks – it’s ideal for cafes, airports, or hotels. On the contrary, users should opt to resolve detected threats if they’re browsing at home using their own devices. When taking this route, you’re redirected to the Avast website in order to set up your router in accordance with our guidelines.

Wi-Fi Security scan notifies you of any security issues that are detected  The feature offers users two solutions to any detected issues  We'll walk you through the process of securing your router on the Avast website

How do I get the Wi-Fi Security feature onto my device?

Avast SecureMe will soon be available in the iTunes Store. Before its widespread release, we will be conducting an invitation-only public beta test. Please sign up hereand the SecureMe team will contact you. If you have already downloaded Avast Mobile Security for Android then you’re all set to start using the Wi-Fi Security feature (you’ll find the “Wi-Fi Security” button on the app’s dashboard). For those yet to download Avast Mobile Security, it is available now from the Play Store.