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February 10th, 2015

Mobile Crypto-Ransomware Simplocker now on Steroids

In June 2014, we told you about mobile ransomware called Simplocker that actually encrypted files (before Simplocker, mobile ransomware only claimed to encrypt files to scare users into paying). Simplocker infected more than 20,000 unique users, locking Android devices and encrypting files located in the external storage. Then, it asked victims to pay a ransom in order to “free” the hijacked device. It was easy to decrypt the files affected by this variant of Simplocker, because the decryption key was hardcoded inside the malware and was not unique for each affected device.

Dangerous unique keys

keyBut now there is a new, more sophisticated variant of Simplocker in town that has already infected more than 5,000 unique users within days of being discovered. The reason why this variant is more dangerous than its predecessor is that it generates unique keys for each infected device, making it harder to decrypt infected devices.

To use an analogy, the original variant of Simplocker used a “master key” to lock devices, which made it possible for us to provide a “copy of the master key” (in the form of an app, Avast Ransomware Removal) to unlock already infected devices. The new variant however, locks each device with a “different key” which makes it impossible to provide a solution that can unlock each infected device, because that would require us to “make copies” of all the different “keys”.

Why would anybody install Simplocker?!

The reason why people install this new variant of Simplocker is because it goes undercover, meaning people don’t even realize that what they are installing is ransomware!

Fake Flash

Tricky Simplocker pretends to be a real app.

 

In this case, the new variant of Simplocker uses the alias “Flash Player” and hides in malicious ads that are hosted on shady sites. These ads mostly “alert” users that they need Flash Player installed in order to watch videos. When the ad is clicked on, the malicious app gets downloaded, notifying the user to install the alleged Flash Player app. Android, by default, blocks apps from unofficial markets from being installed, which is why users are notified that the install is being blocked for security reasons.
Device Admin Request

 

Users should listen to Android’s advice. However, users can go into their settings to deactivate the block and download apps from unknown sources. Once installed, a “Flash Player” app icon appears on the device and when it is opened the “Flash Player” requests the user grant it administrator rights, which is when the trouble really begins.

As soon as the app is granted administrator rights, the malware uses social engineering to deceive the user into paying ransom to unlock the device and decrypt the files it encrypted. The app claims to be the FBI, warning the user that they have found suspicious files, violating copyright laws demanding the user pay a $200 fine to decrypt their files.

device-2015-02-05-143216  FBI warning is an example of social engineering

What should I do if I have been infected?

We do NOT recommend you pay the ransom. Giving into these tactics makes malware authors believe they are succeeding and encourages them to continue.

If you have been infected by this new strain of Simplocker, back up the encrypted files by connecting your smartphone to your computer. This will not harm your computer, but you may have to wait until a solution to decrypt these files has been found. Then boot your phone into safe mode, go into the administrator settings and remove the malicious app and uninstall the app from the application manager.

Avast protects users against Simplocker

Avast Mobile Security protects users against both the old and new variant of Simplocker, the new variant is detected as: Android:Simplocker-AA.

A more technical look under the hood:

As the fake FBI warning is being shown to users, the malware continues working in the background, doing the following: Read more…

February 9th, 2015

14 easy tips to protect your smartphones and tablets – Part II

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.

avast-Mobile-Premium_geo-fencing

Set Avast Geofencing on your phone to protect it from theft while you are occupied.

 

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.

11. Encryption

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.

January 20th, 2015

Selling or giving away your old smartphone or tablet?

Take these steps to ensure you don’t give away your data when you sell your old smartphone!

Remove your data beofre selling your smartphone

You got a new device for Christmas and have finally finished migrating the data and apps from your old one to the new one. Now you’re thinking about what you can do with your old smartphone or tablet, and you come up with two alternatives: Sell it or give it away.

You’ve heard about some sites on the internet where you can sell your phone, so you do some research and decide on a fair price for your used device. Register yourself at the site and… Wait. Something suddenly occurred to you.

Will the new owner be able to see my personal stuff on my old phone?

 

You’re right to think about that because Tens of thousands of Americans sell themselves online every day. Not only do they sell the devices, they sell themselves as all the personal data could be recovered.

eBay infograph June 2014If you don’t want a stranger to see your selfies, discover your bank account details and your credit card numbers, and even some problematic Snapchats and SMSs… you need to do something. Do you remember the celebrities photos scandal?

So what to do? Use a hammer? Well, there are other options.

1. Backup your important data

Much of our lives are stored in our smartphones: Photos, music, videos, personal and professional contacts, call logs and SMSs. And you want all this stuff in your new device, don’t you? Avast Mobile Backup was specially designed to make this easier for you. It makes a backup in your Avast account (or in your Google Drive storage) and then allows you to recover them in a new device: All your paid apps and games (with their data) will be restored.

If you have a MicroSD card, remove it from your device and insert it into your PC, making a full copy and paste operation for all files. Remember that many Android devices store photos and other media files in the DCIM folder of the internal memory. Back it up, too.

Read more…

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September 24th, 2014

Avast! Mobile Security gets award from AV Comparatives

AV Comparatives Aug2014AV Comparatives awarded avast! Mobile Security for its malware protection and highly developed theft-protection.

Most people would not dream of neglecting the security of their PCs or laptop, but those same folks forget that the device in their pocket is just as powerful, if not more so. You’ve heard it before –your expensive smartphone, which stores personal data, private photos, Internet banking information and even company data, is an attractive target for cybercrooks and thieves.

AV Comparatives, an independent organization which tests antivirus products and mobile security solutions, released new testing results and gave avast! Mobile Security the highest “Approved Award” for Android security products.

avast! Mobile Security has a wide range of features with innovative functionality. We particularly liked the wide range of configuration options and remote commands, which provide the user with a comprehensive remote control function,” wrote the authors of the final report.

AV Comparatives gives avast! Mobile Security it's Approved Award for mobile security and anti-theft features.

AV Comparatives gives avast! Mobile Security it’s Approved Award for mobile security and anti-theft features.

Malware protection

Mobile phones attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, and it is growing exponentially. “We now have more than 1 million malicious samples in our database, up from 100,000 in 2011,” said Avast’s CCO, Ondřej Vlček. “Mobile threats are increasing – we expect them to reach the same magnitude as PC malware by 2018.”

avast! Mobile Security scans all installed applications for malware and has various real-time protection shields which protect against

  • Malicious apps and phishing sites
  • Sites containing malware
  • Typo-squatting if an incorrect URL is entered
  • Incoming messages with phishing/malware URLs
  • Malicious behavior during read or write processes

Anti-theft protection

Avast! Anti-theft is a stand-alone app that can be installed separately from avast! Mobile Security. The app is hidden from view, and can be accessed remotely for functions such as lock, locate and wipe, redirection of calls, texts and call logs, etc.

In addition to the malware and anti-theft protection, AV Comparatives liked the standalone avast! Mobile Backup which enables personal data to be backed up to Google Drive.

The Backup, App Locker and Privacy Scan features, which were promised last year, have now been implemented and complete the program’s functionality. (avast! Mobile Security) is a very comprehensive security product with a wide range of configuration options.

Protect your Android smartphone and tablet with avast! Mobile Security and Antivirus from the Google Play store.

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 FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

 

September 18th, 2014

How to make a backup with Avast Mobile Backup & Restore

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I have lots of photos on my phone from summer vacation. How do I back them up so I don’t lose them?
These days we keep everything from photographs, videos and music to messages and contacts on our mobile devices. This makes losing our phones a big headache. Unfortunately, most people don’t think of this until after their phone is missing or fails. We asked our users if they back-up their data, and a whopping 49% said they don’t back up or don’t know if they do.

backup data

Source: Survey results from ‘Do YOU Protect Your Mobile Data?’ April, 2014.

Avast Mobile Backup makes backing up your important data easy for you. In a few easy steps, you can backup all your files from the pictures of your last trip to the contacts and applications you keep in your devices.
Want to know how? Just follow the following steps:

  • Install Avast Mobile Backup & Restore from Google Play.
  • Once you have installed Avast Mobile Backup, you’ll need to configure your Google Drive. It’s as simple as clicking on the button “Set up Google Drive Account” and follow the simple steps on the screen to access your Google account. backup
  • Once you’ve set up your Google Drive, you can select items for backup. The free version lets you back up contacts, calls, and SMS. The Premium version also allows you to back up all the audio and video files and also all your applications. When you finish the selection, click the “Continue” button.
  • On the next page, “Important Options”, you can select whether you want the backups to be made only through a Wi-Fi connection in order to save mobile data, and configure the maximum size of the files which you want to perform that backup. Once you’ve configured everything, click Finish.
  • You are now ready to perform the backup. Tap the dark square at the top and Avast Mobile Backup will start backing up your files.

If you want to restore your backup when you change your phone, simply reinstall Avast Mobile Backup, click “Browse backup” and then “Restore all.”

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 FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

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May 27th, 2014

How to wipe the data from my lost smartphone

howto2_enQuestion of the week: My phone was lost and there is no way to recover it. Thank goodness I had the data backed up. How do I use avast! Mobile Security to wipe all my information off of it?

We’re sorry that you lost your phone. You are not alone. Over one hundred smartphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day, but unfortunately 34% of smartphone owners haven’t protected their phone like you did. Congratulations on taking the initiative to back-up your data! We found out that half of smartphone owners don’t back up their data, even though they are concerned about losing it. (This seems to be theme – same thing happens with changing passwords.)

Many smartphone owners do not have anti-theft installed

Half of smartphone owners don't backup their data

If there’s no way to recover the device, then you are wise to use avast! Mobile Security to remotely wipe your phone of all your personal data.

Thorough wipe

Avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft has remote features that allow you to take certain actions. Wiping the phone can be carried out by SMS command. This is useful in your case when you do not expect to get your phone back and you do not want a thief to access your personal data. Read about how you can set up remote control on your Android phone.

Thorough wipe allows avast! to permanently and irreversibly delete the content of any SD card when wiping the phone. Wiping smartphones using up to Android 2.1 is somewhat restricted as a factory reset of the phone is not possible. However, avast! will try to delete as much as possible, for example contacts, call logs, SMS/MMS, browser history and SD card content, but not emails or apps.

From Android 2.2 onwards, a full factory reset is possible so you have full wipe capabilities. However, please be aware that this will also delete avast! Anti-Theft, unless it was installed as a rooted application.

The thorough wipe will take up to ten minutes, and will physically and irrecoverably delete the actual contents of your SD card. It is your choice whether to select the maximum level of security by using the thorough wipe option.

Protect your data with avast! Anti-Theft

To do a full wipe, avast! Anti-Theft needs to be configured in the advanced settings as a device administrator, otherwise applications, emails etc. will not be deleted. Download and install avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft from the Google Play store.

Don’t forget to backup your data with avast! Mobile Backup. It saves your contacts, call logs, SMS history, photos, and other irreplaceable data to your AVAST Account (and, optionally, Google Drive) to ensure that your priceless data is never lost. Download avast! Mobile Backup for free from Google Play.

All SMS commands, along with a short description how everything works is explained in our manual (PDF). It’s short and easy to understand.

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 FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

March 31st, 2014

Backup your phones and PCs on World BackUp Day!

Your world is on your mobile devices and PC: Your family photos, home videos, documents and emails. Unfortunately, you can lose it in an instance. For those folks who haven’t backed up their files, that means disaster. Today is World BackUp Day. Be prepared. Backup your files on March 31st.
backup_img

Did you know?

  • 113 cellphones are lost or stolen every minute of every day
  • More men (60%) than women (47%) frequently back up their data
  • Women are more at risk than men if their smartphone is stolen or lost, because they do not protect their personal data and information as well as men do.

back-up men_women
Back up your Android phone or tablet

Malware is a growing threat to the Android platform, but because of the small size of our devices, loss and theft is still the bigger threat. Men are more careful about the safety and security of their cellphones than women. We learned that curious fact from an avast! survey conducted last summer,  Lost or Stolen Smartphone: The Consequences are Bigger for Women Than for Men.

avast! Mobile BackUp is available for Android phones and tablets and comes in two different versions.

  1. 1. The standalone free version provides you with basic backup options: Contacts, text messages, pictures, and call logs.
  2. 2. If you would like to backup music, video, and apps, then you need to buy the Premium version. This can be done later, from within the free version.

Get free avast! Mobile BackUp from Google Play. After you install avast! Mobile BackUp, your current data will be backed up to your AVAST Account and Google Drive.

Back up your PC

avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to backup your entire computer or select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. You can choose the storage capacity you need, and for a few bucks a month, rest assured that your files are safe in case disaster strikes.

Try avast! BackUp free for 30 days. During that time, you’ll get 25 GB for your files.

March 31st is World Backup Day. Take the pledge now, then take action:

I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.

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 FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

August 26th, 2013

How to use the hidden power of avast! Mobile Security

You have downloaded the new avast! Mobile Security version 3. You now have a powerful tool to protect your mobile phone from malware, as well as anti-theft features in case your phone is lost or stolen. But you may be wondering, “How do I use this mobile security software to its full power for maximum benefit? What can I expect from the new version?”

These questions are very good ones. We love AVAST for its set-and-forget nature, and also because it’s very light on resources. But we really want you to know the power of AVAST! The hidden features that allow you to get its full power. To do this, let’s look at its six major features:

ad networks1Scanning

On demand scanning is a preventive feature. To get rid of bad or infected files that can rest in your Android and SD Card (storage), scan your phone with the latest virus definitions. You can set avast! Mobile Security to run at night, when you’re sleeping and charging your phone.

App Manager

You love to install apps in your phone, don’t you? After some time, your home manager will show a lot of icons. Why would I need an app manager if the phone already has one, you might be thinking? Because with avast! App manager you can see your running apps, check their permissions, if they display ads, and if you have a rooted device, you can even block the app access to some of your networks, saving you money with your data plan.

Privacy

avast! Mobile Security has a powerful ad detector. You can see up to 7 categories of possible ads, from geotracking to showing ads in your phone to collecting personal information and data. When you install an app, AVAST will automatically warn you about bad behaviors and you could act immediately to get rid of annoying ads. Relax! You can configure AVAST to warn based on your own criteria. For rooted phones and tablets, you can block a specific network access (WiFi/Data/Roaming) for the app being installed. Read more…

August 22nd, 2013

avast! Mobile Premium: The Ultimate in Mobile Security

new AMSpost_img

More than 25 million Android smartphone and tablet users protect their precious devices with AVAST’s free security app. Today, we are happy to provide even more awesome features in our new premium version, avast! Mobile Premium.

The security of data on mobile devices is a growing concern. Over a quarter (26%) of mobile phone owners have lost their phone or had it stolen, and that means that photos, contacts, and personal information, and in a growing number of cases-  company data, is exposed to crooks. This data loss is exacerbated because nearly 50% of US smartphone owners do not back up their content.

avast! Mobile Premium can help you recover your lost phone and data with superior back-up and anti-theft technology.

Erect an invisible fence around your phone

Geo-Fencing is one of the clever anti-theft features of avast! Mobile Premium. You set up a perimeter, for example, around the coffee shop, and choose some actions like setting a loud alarm. If a sticky-fingered thief tries to take your phone outside of the perimeter when you are distracted by your mocha latte, the alarm goes off, or the phone is locked. Gotcha! Read more…

August 20th, 2013

No problem bro – ransom decryption service

If thieves gain control of sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) on your computer, your identity can be stolen.  Information such as your social security number, driver’s license number, date of birth, or full name are examples of files that should be encrypted.  Confidential business data like individual customer information or intellectual property should also be encrypted for your safety.

In this blog post we will look at a service offering file decryption. This service helps you to decrypt files which were previously encrypted. But this is no helpful ‘Tips and Tricks’ blog for people who forgot the password to their documents and ask for help recovering it. Although breaking weak passwords is quite possible, noproblembro.com specializes in a different type of service.

01-noproblembro

Read more…

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