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.
Make Avast quiet when you are playing games or giving presentations.
We know you love Avast, but when you are giving a presentation to the big boss, or concentrating on playing an important game, it may not be the best time for a popup that says your computer is running slowly to appear. That’s why we made it easy for you to silence Avast.
Activate the Silent/gaming mode when don’t want to be interrupted. This will cause Avast to run in silent mode when a full-screen application is running. This means your games or other full-screen applications will not be interrupted with annoying popups or other messages.
Turn this mode on quickly by clicking on the orange Avast icon located in your computer’s system tray. Right-click on the Avast icon and a short menu will appear. Click on Silent/gaming mode to turn it on.
You can also access this option within the main user interface. Go to Settings>General and check the box for Silent/gaming mode. This will disable messages, popups, and alerts in Avast.
Turn off sounds
Silence notifications: Open the Avast user interface. Click Settings>General>Sounds and uncheck the Enable Avast sounds box. You can also uncheck the Voiceovers within the Sounds settings.
Choose the notifications you want to silence: Avast has six “events” that have notifications associated with them.. These events are Threat detected, Suspicious item detected (we suggest you keep these two on), Potentially unwanted program (PUP) detected, Scan complete, Automatic update, and Firewall query. You have the option to uncheck these boxes as well.
Turn off popups
Occasionally, we offer our users great products like GrimeFighter but we understand if you don’t need to see the notifications anymore. Our customers who have a paid-for version of Avast, have an option for you to turn those off completely. Read more…
Only four and half minutes of your time, and you’ll know the highlights of Avast 2015.
Avast 2015 is very easy to use, and many people just install it and let it do its job silently in the background. We designed it that way, but for those of you who want to know more about the features of Avast, we created a video guide to help you get the most out of your security protection.
The core of Avast Antivirus is real-time active protection comprised of the Web, Mail, and File System Shields. These can be accessed from the user interface. Open Settings and go to Active protection.
Avast 2015 includes our new, unique Home Network Security (HSN) which scans for home router security problems. Avast is the only security company to offer a tool to help you secure this neglected area.
To save you time, Avast 2015 has an efficient 4-in-1 Smart Scan which combines scans for malware and HSN’s router vulnerabilities, missing software updates and patches with Software Updater, and performance issues with GrimeFighter. GrimeFighter requires a separate license to fully optimize your PC.
From our headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic to our offices in the USA, Germany, China, and South Korea, all of us at Avast Software wish you love, laughter, and peace in 2015.
Looking back on 2014, we are grateful for the trust that our 220 million customers have placed in us. We thank you for your loyalty and for sharing Avast with your friends and family. We appreciate your support, your suggestions and feedback (even when it’s not so good ), the way you help others on our forum and social channels like Facebook, Google +, and Twitter, and especially when you write us with your stories of how Avast saved the day for you.
As we enter this new year, we promise to bring you the best security products for your home network, your business, your PCs, Macs, and Android devices, that we can. We will stay on top of new threats and contain the old ones that keep coming back to plague us. We will strive to keep your trust, but most of all, to keep you and your important data and hardware save from harm.
So raise your glass with us, and join us for our 2015 wish.
Peace. Love. Security. ~ from Avast
[AUDIO VERSION: This is an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen.]
During the Christmas holidays, my mother received this email from a well-meaning friend. Since her daughter works for the most trusted security company in the world, she immediately asked me about the authenticity of the message.
Here’s the email:
Subject: VIRUS COMING !
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CONTACTS!
You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message
with an attachment entitled POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK , regardless of who sent it to you.
It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which ‘burns’ the whole
hard disc C of your computer.
This virus will be received from someone who has your e -mail address
in his/her contact list.
This is the reason you need to send this e -mail to all your contacts.
It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus
and open it.
If you receive an email entitled “POSTCARD,” even though it was sent to
you by a friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately.
This is the worst virus announced by CNN.
It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair
yet for this kind of Virus.
This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the
vital information is kept.
COPY THIS E-MAIL AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS.
REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US
This particular email has been around for years, and you have probably seen one of its incarnations. Although there are real incidents of malware being distributed via e-cards, this is a bogus, unsubstantiated hoax.
The language is quite strong – phrases like the worst virus and the most destructive virus ever are sure to get the attention of security-minded people. The problem is that the email fails to provide any authentic details to learn more about the threat, just vague announcements and classifications.
“The email doesn’t actually mention a specific virus,” said Jan Zika, an Avast Virus Lab analyst. “Sure some viruses use the “Postcard” social engineering method to trick users to click the link, but this email has been circulating for a couple of years now, and it never says which virus it is.”
The email does say what the virus can do, This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept, and it burns the whole hard disc C of your computer. Pretty scary stuff!
“No, it cannot burn anything, and no, it is not most destructive virus ever,” said Zika. His advice? “It’s best to avoid such messages unless you can confirm that the threat is real.”
Protect yourself against email hoaxes
- Keep you antivirus protection up-to-date and scan regularly for viruses and malware. Both Avast Internet Security and Avast Premier include anti-spam filters to keep your inbox free of this kind of nonsense.
- Use caution when opening attachments or downloading files. Double check that it’s from a sender you know and trust.
- Before clicking on any links or attachments, try to verify that the email came from a legitimate source. If you can’t, then don’t click.
The average US family owns four mobile devices, plus Internet-connected computers and other devices. Your Avast Account helps you manage their security.
Keeping your security software up-to-date on all of these devices can quickly get confusing, and with today’s risks you want to make sure everything has adequate protection. Your Avast Account can simplify that task greatly.
Here’s what you get with an Avast account
Management made easy
- Register any Avast free product which you have installed and which requires registration.
- Manage multiple Avast-protected devices (PC, smartphone, tablet) from one place.
- Remotely control Android mobile devices with Avast Mobile Security and Avast Anti-Theft installed. This is especially useful in case of loss or theft of the device .
Information at your fingertips
You can find information about your connected devices.
- License status
- Expiration date
- Basic statistics
- Version of virus signature database
- Logs of activities, and more
Earn Avast Reward points for free stuff
You can generate your own special Avast Free Antivirus link to give to your family members and friends. When they download their own protection using your link, you collect “Karma” points to earn a free copy of Avast Internet Security. In your Avast Account, you can see how many points you have, earn badges and even see how you’re doing compared to other users.
Give Avast feedback
We provide links to the Avast Community Forum where you can ask questions of our experienced “evangelists,” and the Feedback page, where you can give suggestions, report a problem, or just say thanks.
Secure your Facebook profile
You can secure your Facebook profile using Avast Social Media Security. We help you navigate thorough the frequently changing security and privacy settings in Facebook. In the future we plan to add security profiles on other social networks.
How do I get an Avast Account?
New registrations of Avast Free Antivirus will automatically create an Avast Account and connect your device automatically. Visit https://my.avast.com or click Account in the Avast user interface. Use of the Avast Account for accessing other Avast services is completely optional.
NOTE: It’s especially useful to connect any mobile devices that have Avast Mobile Security installed because it gives you remote control over your device if the device is stolen. These remote control features have not yet been implemented for PC or Mac devices, therefore if you are not interested in the activity log or other information, you don’t have to connect your device to your Avast Account at all.
When you do connect your device, please be patient because of the large amount of data we have to process; the device status isn’t updated in real-time. It could take up to a half hour before the actual security status and other device information appears on the devices page, so check again later.
This day be a jolly day to be a scurvy pirate!
Celebrate all things pirate by installing a pirate-themed voice for your avast! Antivirus products. Download and install it from our Facebook avast! Voices tab and all yer antivirus alerts will henceforth be in a pirate voice. Go to avast! Voices on our Facebook page and choose Themed>1-pirate.mp3>Download Voice.
International Talk Like a Pirate Day started after syndicated columnist and author, Dave Barry, mentioned a group of zany guys who liked to talk using pirate lingo. Years earlier, these guys decided to start their own Talk Like a Pirate Day and make it a national holiday on September 19th. Trouble was, no one knew about it. But in 2002, when Dave Barry wrote about the fledgling holiday, it was a breakout success.
Since the name of our company, AVAST, also means stop or desist, as in “Avast, ye landlubbers!”, it made sense for us to be a part of the celebration. Jezebel, the Webwench from the Talk Like a Pirate’s Day crew declares,
avast! Antivirus software is the official AV protection of at least one-quarter of the Talk Like A Pirate Day crew. I installed the pirate voice and I LOVE IT SO MUCH, mate!
So join th’ ruckas this day, ‘n install th’ scurvy pirate voice on ye avast! Antivirus. Like our avast! Facebook page, click the avast! Voices tab and Talk Like a Pirate!
Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.