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Posts Tagged ‘mobile security’
May 21st, 2014

Does your fitness app track more than your daily workouts?

avast! MobileSecurity checks privacy permissions of appsFor the last few years, I have used an app on my Android smartphone to log my training runs. It tracks the distance I ran, the route I took, my running pace, and calories burned. If I want to, I can link it with Facebook or other social networks and share my workouts, or I can pay to have my stats broadcast live, so for example, during a race, my family can follow my progress.

Using an app like this is motivating and helps me to organize my training better, but until recently I had never considered the privacy and security issues surrounding fitness tracking devices and apps.

“Privacy advocates warn that consumers aren’t always aware of how sensitive the data the apps collect can be or what privacy protections exist,” reported The Washington Post yesterday.

My smartphone is protected by avast! Mobile Security, so I decided to take a closer look at my apps with the Privacy Advisor feature. Privacy Advisor scans the apps in my device and tells me what kinds of information they collect. Application Management tells me what permissions individual apps require. My fitness app requires me to give these permissions:

  • Track GPS location
  • Read contact data
  • Access accounts

Not too bad; at least when I compare it to the fitness app that came with the phone.

My fitness app respects my privacy, but many health and fitness apps sell personal information like usernames, names and email addresses, and information like medical symptom searches, zip codes, geo-location, gender identifiers, and dietary and workout habits. A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study revealed that ad companies and data miners are among the third parties that buy this data.

Already some employers are rewarding their workers with cheaper insurance plans for joining fitness programs. But there is worry that the data collected could be pieced together to create profiles that would backfire. It’s fine when you’re healthy for your fitness, health and medical data to determine things like insurance rates or drug pricing, but what if your health declines?

The FTC “is concerned consumers could be penalized based on health data; for instance, a financial institution might adjust credit ratings based on the fact someone has a disease.”

“Information about consumers most intimate health conditions is going to be sold to the highest bidder,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Washington Post. “Employers might get access to it, insurers might get access to it, or mortgage lenders — which could lead to a vast array of negative discriminatory practices.”

Know what your apps want

Check what the apps that you have allowed on your smartphone require with avast! Mobile Security.  Install it free on Android devices from the Google Play store.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news and product information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our avast! Business Solutions.

 

May 8th, 2014

Six reasons to download avast! Mobile Security on mom’s smartphone this Mother’s day!

AVAST protects your mom's cell phone

Protect mom’s precious memories with avast! Mobile Security

Today almost everyone and their mother has a smartphone, even your mom’s mom probably has a smartphone! Smartphones help us connect with people near or far, whether it be through traditional phone calls, text messages, photo and video sharing via apps or messaging services, smartphones have made keeping in touch routine, easy and instant. We share personal moments, large or small, with the people we love the most: our moms. All these personal moments are then stored on our smartphones, so it is imperative to protect them, which is why we think avast! Mobile Security is the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Here are 6 reasons reasons to back that up:

1. Antivirus: Mom has always protected you, whether it be checking for monsters under your bed or making sure you put on a jacket before you leave the house. Now its your turn to protect your mom from mobile malware monsters from getting to her data. Our anti-virus scans apps, files and SMS for malicious malware and includes spyware.

2. Anti-theft: We all know moms are superheroes that don’t wear capes, always on the go, making sure everyone is taken care of and where they are supposed to be. We also know that mom-purses are like Mary Poppin’s never-ending bag, so it wouldn’t be surprising if mom lost her phone running between work and soccer practice drop-off or if she were to “lose” her phone in her ginormous wonder bag. avast! Anti-Theft helps locate, control and lock lost or stolen phones remotely, GPS track and sound a siren alarm, making it simple to retrieve missing devices.

Read more…

April 16th, 2014

Are software “Easter eggs” safe?

eggs02Easter egg hunts are a favorite activity for kids and adults alike, and on Easter Sunday, backyards, church grounds and even the White House will host their own competitions. Cyberspace has its own Easter eggs (a hidden message in software applications), and the hunt for them is just as fun as for real eggs. I asked Filip Chytrý, a researcher in the avast! Virus Lab specializing in mobile malware, about his favorite Easter eggs.

“I hate boiled eggs,” Chytrý joked, “but revealing Easter eggs in applications is pretty fun especially if you just have a clue, but don’t have any idea where to start.”

Can Easter eggs be malicious?

We’re not too keen on hidden code that no one knows about here at AVAST, so I thought it was a good question. Filip explained that to successfully make an Easter egg, the programmer has to hide the surprise from his fellow team mates and his employer, as well as the end user. It occurred to me that if programmers can hide fun things, it’s not a huge leap to hiding malicious things. Backdoors, for instance?

“We have not seen an Easter egg that might be considered as malware. There are plenty of original apps for Android which are modified to distribute malware by adding some kind of a downloader, but it’s without the user’s interaction. Easter eggs have remained harmless; Android apps – not so much,” said Chytrý.

Are there Easter eggs in mobile software?

Android developers have hidden Easter eggs within Android OS.

Easter eggs found in older version of Android OS

“There are Easter eggs in the latest versions of Android,” said Chytrý. “To access the Easter egg in your device, open the settings screen and tap About phone at the bottom of the screen. Locate Android’s version number on the about screen and quickly tap it several times.”

It worked with Android KitKat on my Nexus 4, but may not work in the modified OS of some device distributors. Find out how to access older Android OS Easter eggs.

Read more…

April 7th, 2014

New AVAST survey shows people not so smart with smartphone security.

Smartphone owners are careless about security, says survey.

Guys are more likely to get a virus on their smartphone than girls (36% vs 32%), and more than one third (34%) of survey respondents don’t have any anti-theft or antivirus security on their smartphones. Add to that nearly half of the people AVAST polled in the US said they did not back up their data or know if they did on their mobile devices. This is despite nearly one in ten saying they had lost their phone or it was stolen in the last 12 months. These results are from a recent smartphone survey conducted for antivirus software company, AVAST.

AVAST Software mobile security survey

AVAST surveyed 9,060 people earlier this year in the US about smartphone ownership and use and have released the results today. Read more…

April 2nd, 2014

Declaring machine war against malicious Android packages

machine_war_theme_jpg

Do you know the notion “machine war”? If you’re a fan of the Matrix movie trilogy then probably, yes. It denotes the fictional rise of artificially intelligent machines against the human race and their violent conquest of human beings. We want to apply a similar dominance of computationally powerful machines, not to create a population of slaves, but against numerous malicious Android packages that wildly proliferate on unofficial markets.

The idea of malware detection with no human interaction appeared earlier on our blog. In a fundamental article about AVAST research activities by AVAST’s COO, Ondřej Vlček, he effectively described the technologies we employ to deal with Windows threats. Two techniques have been mentioned explicitly, Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen, both working with Windows PE file format. Sometimes the latter form of detection technique is denoted as weak automated anti-malware heuristic.

The main effort is to reach two slightly conflicting qualities at the same time: The robustness, which means that suggested methods cover as many threats as possible; and simplicity, so that the methods are easily implemented in AVAST’s mobile security solution. The search for balance between those qualities is assisted by lessons learned from automated heuristic for Windows PE executables.

Read more…

March 13th, 2014

AVAST is top choice for mobile and PC security worldwide

Respected testing lab AV-Comparatives ranks AVAST as the most popular provider of both mobile security and antivirus protection in North America, South America, and Europe, and gaining in Asia.

AVcomp mobile security

“This survey highlights that AVAST is the most popular name in security in the world,” said Vincent Steckler, CEO of AVAST Software. “We proudly protect more than 210 million devices from hackers, thieves, spies and even governments.”

The rankings came from the fourth annual global survey released at the end of February. In the survey, AV-Comparatives states that internet usage among home and business users is growing, but how people access the internet is changing. Smartphone and tablet sales have increased, while laptop and desktop sales are on the decline. This means that the focus of cybercrooks is changing too.

Android owners are vulnerable without security protection

Mobile device owners are steadily realizing that the threat to their security is increasing. The survey confirms that the amount of mobile devices protected by security software is significantly lower than that of desktop devices, especially in North America.

“User awareness of mobile malware is dangerously low; yet in 2013, our virus lab found more than 1,850 new pieces of mobile malware a day,” commented Mr. Steckler. Read more…

February 26th, 2014

Lost your phone? avast! Anti-Theft helps get it back!

Our AVAST mobile security developers labored over an ingenious feature that we hope you will never have to use. Losing your mobile phone may cause you to have a panic attack and cry uncontrollably, but if it happens to you, you can dry your tears because you have tools to find your phone when you install avast! Free Mobile Security with Anti-Theft.

What is avast! Anti-Theft?

avast! Anti-Theft is a separate program included in avast! Free Mobile Security. You can install it at the same time as the avast! Mobile Security product, or later as a separate installation. Its unique capabilities help you recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the internet by logging in to your AVAST account.

Since Anti-Theft is a stand-alone application, once its launched, it hides itself, making it completely invisible to a potential thief. Read more…

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February 5th, 2014

Back up your data with AVAST!

Did you ever lose your mobile device? Or did you ever accidentally drop it and could not restore your contact details, pictures, text messages? Perhaps you forgot that you have your brand new smartphone in your pocket, when you decided to jump into the pool during your vacation? We hope nothing like this has ever happened to you, but as they say forewarned is forearmed!

We thought of those possibilities at AVAST and came up with excellent solution: avast! Mobile Backup. It does magic: 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!

avast! Mobile Back is available for Android mobiles and tablets and comes up comes up with two different versions. The standalone Free version provides you with a basic backup options: Contacts, SMSs, pictures and call logs. For users who require more advances features such as backing up your music, applications and videos, we offer avast! Backup as a part of premium package, coming with avast! Mobile  Security.

Watch how avast! Mobile Backup works! 

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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January 8th, 2014

Mobile malware a real threat in 2014

50m_enSecurity industry experts from around the world must have been looking in the same crystal ball to make their predictions for the new year, because everyone agreed that mobile exploits and malware would drive growth for the industry in 2014. Mobile attacks will include malicious software that steals data from legitimate apps, spyware, ransomware and software installed via NFC.

Ondrej Vlček, AVAST’s Chief Technology Officer, agrees with the others, and has evidence to back it up, “We see nearly 2,000 new malware samples on Android every day, and this is up from maybe 50 a year ago. It’s quite likely that the trend will continue.” He explained in an article in SC Magazine that Android has reached a critical mass in terms of penetration and market share, therefore it’s an attractive target for cybercrooks.

This news has not escaped security journalists, and many are recommending security apps to protect Android devices. TechAdvisor, powered by PC Advisor, the UK’s number one technology magazine website, recently recommended avast! Mobile Security as one of it’s Best Android antivirus: 6 best cheap and free Android security apps.

avast! Mobile Security is a comprehensive suite of security and backup tools, with a particularly strong set of anti-theft features that could well catch a thief in the act.

Digital Trends looked at three of the top Android security apps. Avast! Mobile Security was their top choice.

If you’re looking for a security solution for your Android smartphone, and your primary concern is malware and safe browsing, then this could be the right app for you.

AV-Test certification Nov2013

Avast! is a trusted choice – over 50 million devices are protected.

The November 2013 mobile security evaluation conducted by AV-TEST, certifies that avast! Mobile Security provides 100% protection against malicious apps with zero impact on your device’s performance. That means no impact on your battery life, the app doesn’t slow down your device, and it generates negligible traffic.

Read more…

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December 29th, 2013

What bugged AVAST users this year: NSA spooked people about privacy

privacy word of yearPRIVACY. It’s the word of the year from dictionary.com. With reports of the NSA turning the internet into a vast surveillance platform, FBI agents and hackers monitoring citizens through home appliances, web-browser tracking cookies multiplying like rabbits, and information you post to social networking sites yourself, the loss of individual’s online privacy and the extensive access of personal data became a mainstream topic in 2013.

In an interview about security issues with SC Magazine, Vincent Steckler, AVAST’s CEO said that the next aspect of security that needs consideration is privacy. Both consumers and corporates are going to need social media protection capabilities, including checking of links for malware, better control of privacy settings, and control over apps. That goes for tracking in browsers as well.

Abandon all privacy, ye who enter here

Ondřej Vlček, AVAST’s Chief Technology Officer, agrees. “’Do not track in browsers’ doesn’t really work,” he says. “It’s up to the servers whether to adhere to [the HTTP Do Not Tracker header] or not. Most commercial services don’t adhere to it.”

Raise your hand if you use your smartphone to surf the web, compare prices, or buy movie tickets? (That looks like most of us.) Lots of people don’t realize that mobile brands, apps and websites ‘track’ their online movements. Vlček said there are plug-ins that remove things like tracking from ad networks, analytics services or Facebook’s Like buttons without breaking the service. He suggests this approach is an important piece of the puzzle for privacy protection.

Read more…