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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.

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.

October 15th, 2014

“Poodle” security hole has a nasty bite

poodles

“Poodle” bites on open WiFi networks with multiple users.

A security hole called Poodle could allow hackers to take over your banking and social media accounts.

Yesterday, Google researchers announced the discovery of a security bug in version 3 of the Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSLv3). This web technology is used to encrypt traffic between a browser and a web site, and can give hackers access to email, banking, social accounts and other services.

Poodle bites multiple users in unsecure open WiFi networks, like the ones you use at coffee shops, cafes, hotels, and airports.

“To exploit the vulnerability, you must be running javascript, and the attacker has to be on the same network as you—for example, on the same Starbucks Wi-Fi network you’re using,” explained Kim Zetter in a WIRED article.

Avast experts strongly recommend that our users protect themselves when using free WiFi with avast! SecureLine VPN.

Poodle is not considered as serious a threat as this past spring’s Heartbleed bug which took advantage of a vulnerability in OpenSSL, and or last month’s Shellshock bug in Unix Bash software.

SSLv3 is an outdated standard (it’s a decade and a half old), but some browsers, like Internet Explorer 6, and older operating systems, like Windows XP, only use the SSLv3 encryption method. Google’s security team recommends that systems administrators turn off support for SSLv3 to avoid the problem, but warns that this change will break some sites.

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.

November 19th, 2013

Can avast! protect me against CryptoLocker?

howto2_enQuestion of the week: I have read frightening stories about CryptoLocker locking computers. I don’t have $200 to pay blackmailers for my own files. How do I protect myself from getting attacked? Does avast! protect from CryptoLocker?

 

“Avast! Antivirus detects all known variants of CryptoLocker thanks to our automated processing and CommunityIQ,” said Pavel Sramek, researcher and analyst for the avast! Virus Lab. “There are less than a dozen; this doesn’t seem to be a case of rapidly mutating malware.”

CryptoLocker EN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is CryptoLocker?

CryptoLocker is malware known as “ransomware” that encrypts files on a victim’s Windows-based PC. This includes pictures, movie and music files, documents, and certain files on local or networked storage media. A ransom, paid via Bitcoin or MoneyPak, is demanded as payment to receive a key that unlocks  the encrypted files. The victim has 72 hours to pay about $200; after that the ransom rises to over $2,200.

How to get CryptoLocker?

The CryptoLocker virus is often attached as an executable file disguised as a PDF attachment to an official-looking “spoofed” email message which claims to come from banks, UPS or FedEx claiming to be a tracking notification. When someone opens the email, they are asked to download a Zip file that contains an executable file (.exe) that unleashes the virus.  There is also evidence that CryptoLocker started with infections from the ZeuS or Zbot banking Trojan and is being circulated via botnets to download and install CryptoLocker.

How to protect your computer from CryptoLocker?

AVAST users should be safe from infection during the short period when the malware is new and “undetected” as long as AutoSandbox and DeepScreen are active. “The infection is prevented by means of a dynamic detection,” said Sramek.

“We also automatically add detections for each new sample that passes our backend filters,” said Jiri Sejtko, Sramek’s colleague in the avast! Virus Lab.

“Against future threats like this, having a backup is always a good idea – who knows when CryptoLocker v2.0 will be released, and every antivirus solution is reactive by nature,” said Sramek. “The encryption used is virtually unbreakable, there is zero chance of recovering files after infection.”

Avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. Try avast! BackUp free for 30 days; after that you can choose a subscription based on your storage needs.

Read the warning issued to American computer users from US-CERT, and the warning to British users from NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

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 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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