Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Seasons Greetings!
All of us at Avast raise our glass in a toast to all of you, the global community of people who help us keep cyberspace secure. You motivate us everyday, and we wish you the happiest of holidays and a New Year full of joy, peace, and security. Cheers!
A hackathon resulting in creative prototypes of apps and hardware.
It had all the makings of a classic hackathon: An all-nighter in a weird location fueled by coffee and good ideas. Located in the parking garage of our current Avast headquarters, R&D teams participated in the event with the goal to invent cool things we can implement in our new HQ building, which is nearly completed.
We dubbed the hackathon Párkathon, because our new HQ building has a sausage-like curve to it. In the Czech language sausage is “párek” + hackathon = Párkathon.
Here’s what it looked like:
The Párkathon started on Thursday and continued through the wee hours of the morning all the way through Friday evening. Some people were so psyched about their projects that they continued at home or even stayed at the office during the weekend to finish . On Monday morning, the epic hackathon ended with a demo session and attendees voted for the winning team. The prize was a barbecue party for that team. And they kindly invited all the other Párkathon attendees.
Some of the projects that came out of Párkathon include:
iZasedáček – an interactive version of the office seating plan. This app let’s people quickly find who sits where and localize empty chairs. It includes floor maps of the building.
Stairs vs. Elevators - devices for measuring stairs or elevator usage. Including HW prototype – every time someone crosses two laser beams, his walk through is counted. Other use cases are under development.
Other projects that came out of Párkathon
Waldo – a tool for the real-time search of people within the building using iBeacons and GPS. Users can send messages along with a location request inside or outside the building to quickly organize a meeting.
Hacked Earth – 3D visualization of geo-located data on Earth’s surface. Can be used for real-time display of virus attacks around the world or product information like the visualization of app installations. The plan is to use it at reception, meeting rooms, or for events.
FunMon – the real-time monitoring of table football and billiards usage. Uses HW sensors to detect facility usage and allows short-term booking.
Orchestrované zobrazovátko – a system for streaming content to TVs around the building. This is an easy way to show content on any TV. There is also the option to broadcast the same message on a group of TVs or even all of them.
Zasedačkomat – an app for wall-mounted Android tablets in each meeting room. It shows the room availability and allows you to perform basic tasks like reserving the room or releasing it for use.
3D navigation – printing of custom made direction signs for our new building. This task included learning to work with 3D printer.
MemeGen – system for internal memes and jokes.
That’s what we wanted to find out.
Avast security analysts ran a five-month experiment to “lose” and track 20 mobile phones.
To prepare the phones for the experiment, they activated three security apps: Our own free Avast Anti-Theft, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. They made sure that each phone was marked with contact information so it could be returned if found. Then, they randomly placed 10 phones around New York City and the other 10 around San Francisco.
It didn’t take long for the phones to be found and tampered with. Fifteen of the 20 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature. They only security app that survived the factory reset was Avast Anti-Theft.
That was just what our analysts needed to track the lost devices on their adventures.
And what adventures they had!
On a slow boat to…India?!
One of the phones, lost in Battery Park, New York City, eventually found its way to Mumbai, India. At first, a long, slow journey across the Atlantic Ocean had our analysts baffled, until they theorized that the phone was aboard a transatlantic cargo ship. Read more…
This past weekend, Prague hosted hundreds of web professionals at the Webexpo conference. Avast Software was a proud general sponsor of this event.
Attendees could meet our team at the Avast booth, try Avast technologies, and chat with our colleagues. They could also learn first hand how it is to work for the Best Czech Employer of 2013!
A stranger broke into Giri C’s house last September. The thief looked through Giri’s belongings for something of value. He found a MotoE Phone and grabbed it. Mobile phones are an easy target because the thief can just slip in a new SIM card and resell the phone on the black market.
What this thief didn’t know was that Giri had installed Avast Anti-Theft protection. Avast Anti-Theft allows you to set up your desktop account or use a friend’s phone to remotely locate your device, lock it, activate the remote siren, or wipe its data clean.
At the end of this month, Avast will end product enhancement support for older consumer versions of Avast Antivirus – we will not be ending security support for these products. Customers will continue to receive threat updates and will continue to be fully protected. The versions are 8.0.1497 and lower of the following products: Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Pro Antivirus, Avast Internet Security, and Avast Premier.
People using older versions will continue to receive virus definition updates and be protected. However, we recommend everyone to upgrade to the new version to benefit from better detection rates and new features.
A good antivirus program is a necessity to protect your Windows PC from malware attacks, to keep your computer running smoothly, and to protect your online identity and personal data. Over the past 3 years, Avast engineers have improved our database of known virus definitions, the mechanism in which zero- day and widespread malware are detected, and the frequency of streaming updates sent to our customers. Avast 2015, with its unique Home Network Security feature which scans your home network for potential risks, is our best performing security product yet.
After May 31st, 2015, Avast will no longer provide patches or technical support for versions 8.0.1497 and lower. Please update to the latest version so you can benefit from the enhanced features and higher detection rates that protect your computer from malicious attacks. This update is also recommended because the latest version is compatible with Windows 10.
If you are running an older version of Avast, you can easily move to the latest version of Avast 2015.
How to check for the latest version and do a program update
If you need to update later, here’s a quick way to do it.
- Right click on the orange Avast ball icon in the system tray.
- Select Update from the menu and then click Program.
The update screen in the Avast user interface shows you the overall progress of the program update. When it’s done you will be asked to restart your computer. Click Yes to reboot immediately. Once the computer is restarted, information about the update may appear. If you are using a paid subscription, then your protection will be valid for the remaining period of your subscription.
Why to upgrade
- Better detection rates
- Easier technical support
- We fixed bugs and problems that still might exist on your current version
- Receive further program updates to ensure best protection
If you prefer an older version of Avast and require technical support, you will still receive virus definition updates and be protected, but our support team will ask you to update the product first before we can assist you.
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.
Part of the Avast team was reunited again at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, to show our new apps: Avast Battery Saver, Avast GrimeFighter and Avast SecureMe, and also other popular apps like Avast Mobile Security and Avast SecureLine.
Jude McColgan, president of Mobile, and Filip Chitry, malware analyst, came from our office in Prague with Petra, Jindra, Zdeněk, Jakub, Petr, Juraj and Farid. Daniel Cheng, Head of Worldwide Mobile Sales and Marketing, came from our offices in Hong Kong and Sung Lyong, came from South Korea. I didn’t travel as I’m working at the host city, the beautiful city of Barcelona. Have you ever been in Barcelona? You should try the famous tapas, walk around Las Ramblas and visit La Sagrada Familia. Feel free to ask us for some recommendations on Twitter!
The Avast team arrived the weekend before the Mobile World Congress in order to build up our beautiful and colorful booth, located at the Hall 5, booth 5K29. After one day of exhausting work, the booth was ready to receive all the visitors and the journalists. The booth was really cool, right?
Everything started on monday. Tens of thousands of people came to the Mobile World Congress, located in Hospitalet de Llobregat (“What are you talking about? The MWC is in Barcelona!” Well, not really, the MWC is located in the second largest city of Catalonia, Hospitalet, next to Barcelona) where besides learning some security tips from the Avast team and learning about our new apps, the visitors were able to see what’s new on the mobile industry, like new smartphones, new wearables, new tablets, etc…
The following days were really successful. A lot of people came to our booth to meet the team and, of course, our new apps.
Not only visitors, a lot of journalists from all around the world and from different media, from TV channels to tech blogs, came to our booth. Nobody wanted to miss our new apps and our impressive hacking experiment! Everyone was impressed after knowing how, with Avast Battery Saver, you can save up to 7 hours of battery and, of course, after watching our live hacking experiment, where everyone was able to see how important a good security solution is while using a public Wi-Fi.
The whole team was really satisfied with the results achieved at the Mobile World Congress. The feedback received from the visitors was really positive and of course it will help us to improve our top rated security solutions.
Do you want to know what Filip Chitrý, malware analyst at Avast, and Jindra Pistkova, mobile marketing specialist, said about the Mobile World Congress? Watch the following video:
And last but not least, here you have a picture of the team
See you next year at Mobile World Congress 2016!
More easy things you can do to secure your smartphone and tablet.
On our blog last week, we shared the first 7 easy security measures to protect your Android devices and the data stored there. But we haven’t finished them. Let’s go a little further.
8. Keep an eye in your phone or, if you can, set Geofencing protection
Don’t put your phone down and go somewhere else. And if you’re having fun in a bar and drinking a beer with friends, have a lucid thought before starting: Turn the Avast Geofencing module on. It’s easy. Open Avast Premium Mobile Security > Anti-Theft > Advanced Settings > Geofencing.
9. Be aware of what permissions apps require
Why should a flashlight app need access to your contacts? Why would a calculator need access to your photos and videos? Shady apps will try to upload your address book and your location to advertising servers or could send premium SMS that will cost you money. You need to pay attention before installing or, at least, uninstall problematic apps. It’s not easy to find a way (if any) to manage permissions in a non-rooted Android phone.
We have written about this before as apps could abuse the permissions requests not only while installing but also on updating. Read more to learn and be cautious: Google Play Store changes opens door to cybercrooks.
10. Keep your device up-to-date
Google can release security updates using their services running in your devices. Developers can do the same via an app update. Allow updates to prevent vulnerabilities, the same as you do in your computer. But pay attention to any changes. See tip #9.
You can encrypt your account, settings, apps and their data, media and other files. Android allows this in its Security settings. Without your lockscreen PIN, password or gesture, nobody will be able to decrypt your data. So, don’t forget your PIN! Nevertheless, this won’t encrypt the data sent or received by your phone. Read the next tip for that.
12. In open/public Wi-Fi, use a VPN to protect your communication
Cybercrooks can have access to all your data in a public, open or free Wi-Fi hotspot at the airport or in a cafe. Avast gives you the ability to protect all inbound and outbound data of your devices with a secure, encrypted and easy-to-use VPN called Avast SecureLine. Learn more about it here.
13. Set the extra features of Lollipop (Android 5)
If you’re with Android Lollipop (v5), you can set a user profile to allow multiple users of the same device. You can create a restricted user profile that will keep your apps from being messed with by your kids or your spouse.
You can also pin the screen and allow other users to only see that particular screen and nothing more. It will prevent your friends and coworkers from accidentally (or on purpose) looking into your device.
14. Backup. Backup. Backup.
Well, our last tip is common digital sense. If everything fails, have a Plan B, and C and D… With Avast Mobile Backup you can protect all your data: contacts, call logs, messages, all your media files (photos, musics and videos) and your apps (with their data if you’re rooted) in safe servers. If your device gets broken, lost or stolen, everything will be there, encrypted and safe, for you to restore to your new device.
Have you followed all our tips? Are you feeling safe? Do you have an extra protection or privacy tip? Please, leave a comment below.
A few precautions can make a huge difference in the safety of your phone and the important things you saved on it.
We talk a lot about protection and privacy here in our blog. It’s a bit obvious as our “life” is in our devices nowadays: Photos of our last trip or our loved ones, videos of our children playing and growing up, contacts both professional and personal. All our precious and irreplaceable data is stored in these little machines. Take a minute of your time and follow us in this easy tour to protect them and save a lot of time and headaches.
1. Set your lockscreen
You wouldn’t leave your home door unlocked, would you? Same goes for your phone with all your private data. Set a password or PIN to prevent direct and easy access to your phone. Gestures and face recognition are less secure, but are better than nothing.
2. Hide your passwords from nosy people
You will argue that people around you can look over your shoulder and see what PIN or password you’re typing or gesture you make. Generally, we’re not worried about trustworthy people around us, but what about strangers in a public place like a bus or train? Open your phone settings and hide your passwords by unchecking the option: Settings > Security > Make passwords visible.
3. Protect your apps with a PIN
Not all apps are equal when it comes to security and privacy. Probably the weather app or calculator won’t keep your personal info. However, your messages and banking apps will thank you if you help them to keep their data private. You can imagine what might happen if your kids to open a specific app while they’re playing in your devices. Use Avast Mobile Security to set a PIN to block access to your apps. As an extra security measure, it will be good that your lockscreen and Avast PINs are different ones.
4. Disable installation of apps from unknown sources
If you do not use other app stores besides Google Play, then uncheck the option “Unknown sources” in your phone’s Security Settings page. Even the Google Play Store sometimes allows malware to get by. It’s well known that most Android malware are fake apps disguised as legitimate apps, so double check the publisher. Be cautious of downloading from fake sites disguised as official ones – check the URL. Avoid completely pirated and cracked sources.
5. Set Avast Mobile Security to scan any app before installing
If you really need to use legal third party stores, like Amazon or F-Droid, please be careful: Keep Avast Mobile Security always on. You know that Avast scans any installed and running app. But do you know that you can set it to scan any app that is about to be installed? After you’ve installed Avast, when you’re about to install a new app, the phone will ask you if you want Avast or the default installer to handle the installation by default. Use Avast, it will scan and then release the app to the default installation process.
6. Disable USB Debugging
This tip is for advanced users. If you have enabled Developer options into your device (and you will know exactly if you did as you’re an advanced user!), please, turn USB debugging off. You will protect your device from outside abuse (via adb connections) if you do so. You don’t need it to be on all the time.
7. Install and set Avast Anti-Theft
This is an old tip, but it’s so important that it should be on all smartphone safety tips lists. Just note that installing is not enough. You need to properly configure Avast Anti-Theft (don’t worry, there is an easy wizard for it) step-by-step. It’s good to check if your location services are properly set also, otherwise, it will be difficult to track it. In other words, go to Settings > Location Access and set High accuracy mode.
We’ll talk about the other 7 tips in next days, so come back to the Avast blog.