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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.

April 15th, 2015

How to extend the life of your phone’s battery

How to use Avast productsIf you have a smartphone, you are basically carrying around a pocket-sized laptop with a built-in camera and phone. Denser electronics have allowed for some powerful features to be built into a small package, but the weak link is the battery that runs it all. Battery energy has yet to match the quick growth of features on electronic devices.

Where does the juice go?

The power it takes to keep the device running all day depends upon what you do as well as your operating system, settings, and network (Wi-Fi, CDMA/GSM, 2G/3G/4G), but battery manufacturers say typical Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries provide up to ten hours talk time and up to 300 hours standby time.

Apps drain the battery. They sit in the background pinging servers, keeping track of where you are, and waiting for signals. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS use power looking for routers and satellites or other Bluetooth devices. The display uses lots of power too, especially at full brightness and if you do graphic-intensive activities like play games.

The environment also has an impact on Li-ion batteries. They suffer from stress when exposed to temperatures above 30°C/86°F. This high heat accelerates capacity loss which cannot be restored. Likewise, cold can decrease electricity flow, making your device sluggish.

When do I need to replace my battery?

Conventional wisdom says you’ll probably need a new phone battery each year. Factors like charge and discharge cycles, exposure to high temperatures, and aging decrease performance over time. Manufacturers say the life of most Li-on range between 300 and 500 cycles. Beyond this lifespan, batteries gradually diminish below 50 percent of the original capacity.

If you notice that your battery depletes rapidly, fails to hold a full charge, or feels abnormally warm then most likely it’s time to replace your phone’s battery.

How to save battery life?

Battery SaverEveryone knows it can take hours to charge a lithium-ion battery and depending on your use, it sometimes doesn’t even last through the workday. Here are some tips to conserve battery power.

  • Use Avast Battery Saver. Our free app from Google Play optimizes phone settings using ‘Smart profiles’ which activate automatically based on time, location, and battery level. This saves up to 20% on one charge.
  • Avoid full discharges and charge the battery more often between uses.
  • Limit exposure to extreme temperatures, especially heat. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car. Room temperature is best.
  • Lower your screen brightness. You can experiment, but usually anywhere above 50% is still readable. Some phones let you set it to auto-adjust.
  • Turn off vibrate, ringtones, and the flash on your camera.
  • Keep apps updated. The updates often improve battery usage by making the apps more efficient.
  • When in areas with no cell coverage, turn the device to airplane mode or even turn it off. Otherwise, the phone will continue to search for a signal and that eats battery.
  • Limit graphics-intensive activities like gaming and watching videos.
  • Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS when you don’t need them.

Read more about Avast Battery Saver, Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps.

The future of smartphone batteries

The race for a safe, cheap, long-lasting, energy-rich battery is on. With electric cars, wearable tech, and the Internet of Things running our households, inventors, scientists and business people are searching for the breakthrough that will change batteries forever. The next-generation of batteries may well be built with silicon-based electrodes, take advantage of the oxygen we breathe to recharge power cells, or be organic.

Just last week, a super-fast (1 minute!) chargeable aluminum-ion battery with a high-charge storage capacity developed at Stanford University was announced. This low cost, durable (it was able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity) battery is not ready to be mass produced, but it holds promise.

Until that time comes though, used the Avast Battery Saver free app to extend the life of your phone’s battery. :)

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April 14th, 2015

Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps

Aavst Battery Saver saves battery power.

Install Avast Battery Saver on your Android device for free from Google Play!

Avast Battery Saver quickly and easily helps you to save your Android’s battery life

Mobile devices are currently evolving at an exceptional rate. Processor speed, display quality and connectivity options have changed dramatically over the past few years. However, battery capacity still seems to be struggling to keep up with the evolving capacity needed to power the enormous amount of new processors and displays.

According to a recent survey answered by 20, 000 people, 60% of Android owners are not satisfied with their device’s battery life.

There are a huge amount of Android applications trying to solve that problem, yet most of them fail to do so. When examining the features available on these apps, it becomes easy to see why many of them haven’t achieved complete success.

Task-killing

Task-killing is the most popular feature available not only within many battery saving apps, but also within cleaners and phone boosters. It most likely originated in Windows’ desktop operating system. Since users had first become accustomed to closing programs on Windows when their PCs began to slow down, this behavior transferred over to mobile devices when the users began to use Android.

However, Android’s system works differently. Android aims to keep RAM full in order to switch between applications more quickly. If there is no free RAM left, Android kills less recent applications. Thus, there is no need for the user to shut down the apps manually. Furthermore, task-killing actually slows down devices because each time an app is shut down, its data must be loaded to RAM again.

Try it yourself

Here’s a small test that you can try: install a task-killer, RAM booster or battery saving app that “cleans” RAM. Click the main button (it’s usually called “Optimize” or “Boost”). You’ll see several apps killed. Then, wait for a few seconds and try it again. Nothing will happen, as you’ve just killed everything.

Now, uninstall or clear the data in the tested app. After you click the “Optimize” button again, almost all of the apps you’ve just killed are shown to be killed again. Looks strange, huh? It might appear that the “Optimize” button doesn’t do anything. In reality, it does kill applications. The trick is that many apps start directly after being killed using Android’s WakeLock feature. Apps with an “Optimize” button have a timer which prevents users from seeing that killed apps are running again after a few seconds. Because of this, there is no sense in using “Optimize”.

More info about task-killing can be found here:

1. http://www.howtogeek.com/127388/htg-explains-why-you-shouldnt-use-a-task-killer-on-android/

2. http://lifehacker.com/5650894/android-task-killers-explained-what-they-do-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them

How can I actually save my device’s battery life?

A couple main factors that contribute to saving battery is turning off certain features of your device including Wi-Fi and mobile data and limiting display brightness and timeout.

Avast now brings you Avast Battery Saver, an application which saves power without hassle. It optimizes phone settings such as Internet connectivity, screen brightness, and timeout according to your needs. Smart power profiles are activated automatically based on time, location, and battery level without sacrificing the activities you love most.

Avast Battery Saver also contains a powerful tool to solve the issue of apps draining your battery’s lifespan while not being used. You have the ability to see how much battery every app is draining and force stop any that you’re not currently using. Unlike task-killing, force-stopping is Android’s native solution to prevent apps from unnecessarily running in the background. Once force-stopped, an app will not run again until it’s next manually opened.

Ready to save? Download Avast Battery Saver for free on Google Play.

April 9th, 2015

How to find the best protection for your Android phone? Independent tests.

Recently we told you about malware inside of Google Play and we also alerted you to the resurrection of Simplocker, a dangerous ransomware that has started its second infection wave. Hopefully,  you are convinced that you need to seek a top security application for your Android device. It’s just not safe out there any longer.

AV-Test of Avast Mobile SecurityHowever, how can you be sure that our security application is doing its job correctly and extensively?

Some people doubt marketing talk on vendor websites, but we know you cannot start testing every apk file or entering the dark side site of Internet just to see if our solution works. That’s why Avast has chosen to submit our products to third party, independent testing labs.

AV-TEST runs Avast Mobile Security through the paces

AV-TEST is a well-known testing laboratory for mobile security. Recently, they tested 31 mobile security products for Android focusing “on malware detection and usability, including performance and false positives”.

They used 2,950 different malware samples and Avast Mobile Security blocked 100% of them. The malware set was a very recent one: malware in the wild in the last 4 weeks.

More?

Avast Mobile Security did not commit any mistake when tested with 1,932 legitimate apps from the Google Play Store and 981 legitimate apps from third party app stores. The better of the two worlds: protection and usability.

In addition, all this protection, according to AV-TEST, did not “impact the battery life”, or “slow down the device during normal usage”, and “does not generate too much traffic”.

Avast Mobile Security earned the AV-TEST certification.

Avast Mobile Security earned the AV-TEST certification.

The testing Lab gives a thumbs up for all the other security features that you can find in Avast Mobile Security:

  • Anti-Theft for remote lock, wipe and locate your lost or stolen device. NOTE: For those of you who do not have automatic update turned on, please do an update ASAP so you can keep Anti-theft working optimally.
  • Call Blocker from specific or unknown numbers and a SMS Filter for unwanted content.
  • Safe Browsing that protects against malicious websites and/or phishing.
  • Backup for personal data on cloud storage.
  • Firewall that allows control over your connection usage over 3G/4G/Wi-Fi/Roaming.
  • Network Meter that gives you easy to understand information about your data plans.

Don’t you want to try it? You can download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.

 

March 31st, 2015

Why people don’t back up their mobilephones and other facts

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.

mobile backup survey

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.

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March 10th, 2015

5 ways to thwart the thief who stole your Android

Avast Anti-Theft is free

Remote recovery options help you keep control of your device, even when it’s lost.

Avast Anti-Theft is a free app 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. You recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the internet by logging in to your My Avast account.

If your phone is lost or stolen, here are some things you can control remotely:

  1. 1. Locate your device on a map – Whether you misplaced your phone, left on the bus, or a thief grabbed it and ran, the GPS on your phone can be enabled so you can receive continuous GPS location updates.

Avast Anti-Theft user Ducky Boy wrote about his experience finding his phone that he dropped on the highway while riding his motorcycle using the GPS feature. Read about it in On the road with avast! Mobile Security.

  1. 2. SIM card change notification – Thieves usually change the SIM card after stealing a phone. Anti-Theft recognizes when this happens and notifies you of the new number and geo-location so you can maintain contact with your phone.

Partier and Avast user Andreas lost his phone during a particularly fun party. The next morning he remembered he had installed Avast Anti-Theft. Here’s how he got his phone back, Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft! Read more…

March 4th, 2015

Avast Battery Saver extends your Android’s battery life

New intelligent app from Avast learns individual user behavior and optimizes features to maximize battery life.

Avast Battery Saver app for Android

Get Avast Battery Saver for free from Google Play

Avast is excited to announce the release of our newest app, Avast Battery Saver. Battery Saver is the first intelligent battery-saver app for Android that increases battery life by an average of 7 hours. Avast Battery Saver optimizes your device’s settings, adjusting data connections, screen brightness and timeouts based off of its ability to learn about individual usage behavior.

“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.”

In contrast to other battery-saver 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.

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

This improved battery manager will take care of your battery’s health the same way a doctor takes care of yours. The result is more battery life with less hassle.

The app’s convenient features make Android devices significantly more efficient

  • Smart profiles activate automatically based on time, location, 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 these profiles: Home, Work, Night, and Super-Saving Emergency Mode. You can easily switch from one mode to another and manage them within the app. Avast Battery Saver is now available for download in the Google Play Store.

March 3rd, 2015

Avast Launches Memory Saving Cleaner App for Android

Today, Avast announced the launch of Avast GrimeFighter at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new application helps Android users free extra memory on their devices with just a few taps so they can save the data that matters to them while enjoying a faster, smoother performance on their devices. 

GrimeFighterHow Avast GrimeFighter works

Avast GrimeFighter begins by scanning all applications on an Android device, identifying unimportant or unnecessary data that could be eliminated without damaging applications’ functionalities. Using GrimeFighter’s easy-to-use interface, users can choose from two modes that allow them to eliminate excess files with ease: Safe Cleaner and Advanced Cleaner. Safe Cleaner is a customizable scanner that quickly identifies unimportant data for instant, one-tap removal. Advanced Cleaner runs in parallel to Safe Cleaner, mapping all of the device’s storage and creating a simple overview of all files and applications that take up space. Advanced Cleaner locates inflated or unused applications and arranges them by file type, size, usage, or name, so users can permanently remove the files and free up storage space.

In addition to cleaning up unwanted data, Avast GrimeFighter helps maximize storage capacity by syncing with personal cloud storage accounts so users can manage their device’s storage without having to delete valuable data. Users can drag files to the cloud icon and GrimeFighter will instantly transfer them to a safe folder in the cloud. Avast GrimeFighter is currently compatible with Dropbox and can assist users in setting up a Dropbox account. Additional popular cloud storage solutions will be added soon.

How does excess data get accumulated?

Bits and pieces of data accumulate on your device, whether you are aware of it or not. GrimeFighter helps you locate excess data that you wouldn’t typically be able to find, such as data left over from initiated app downloads, residual data, thumbnails, and app caches. Popular apps, like Facebook and Instagram, also create excess data on your device as they inflate from their original download size when used regularly. Avast tested some of the most popular Android apps and found that their size can grow exponentially during one week of heavy usage:

                                                                         install size:          additional data accumulated:

1)    Facebook                      36.7MB                        153MB

2)    Flipboard                    12.6MB                        71.1MB

3)    Google Maps            23.21MB                       68.8MB

Avast GrimeFighter will help the more than one billion Android users free up anywhere from 500MB to 1GB of storage per device to enjoy faster performance and is available for download on Google Play.  

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February 24th, 2015

Are you as smart as your smartphone?

Smart phone

How do I find my apps on this thing?

Not too many years ago we had phones that only made calls. Smartphones are the newest generation of phones that bring a lot of possibilities right to our fingers through the apps specifically designed for them. We all got used to the Windows (or Mac) world, but now we are witnessing a revolution from “standard” programs and some specialized tools to a world where every common thing can be done by our smartphones. Sometimes it seems, that the device is smarter than we are!

But can it protect itself from the increasing number of threats?

You’ll find a lot of articles on the Internet which state that security companies exaggerate the need for mobile security and antivirus protection. You’ll read that Google Play and the new security technologies of Android Lollipop are the only things necessary for security. I could post many examples of such (bad) tips, but I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

Do you use only Google Play as your app source?

A common (and wise) security tip is to stick with Google Play for downloading apps. This is good advice despite the fact that we see here in the Avast blog that Google Play fails to detect some apps as malware. Look for our mobile malware senior virus analyst Filip Chytry’s articles. He continuously discovers holes in Google Play security.

However, what if you want apps that have been banned from Google Play? No, I’m not talking about (just) adult apps. Google banned anti-ad apps, for instance. So where is a safe place to get them? The answer is simple: outside of Google Play. The Amazon Appstore for Android is quickly increasing the possibilities.

Do you think that clean apps can’t become bad ones?

Clean apps can become bad ones, and with the new Google Play permission scheme, you may not even notice. This makes updating your apps (another very common and wise hint) an additional complication.

As the apps we love can turn against us, the best tip of all is that you install a mobile security app that helps you know what it being added to your phone.  Avast Mobile Security updates its virus database very often to detect the latest threats and allows you to install securely all the apps you love.

This makes you smarter than your smartphone! ;-)