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May 14th, 2015

Technology mistakes to stop making today

We love our fans and followers on Twitter because they frequently alert us to great resources. It happened today when we received a tweet from @LoveNerds4Ever letting us know that Avast Antivirus was mentioned on a Sacramento (California) News10 video segment. Thanks, Shawna!

The guest on this video segment is Ryan Eldridge, co-founder of Nerds on Call, a computer repair Business in Sacramento. He spoke to reporter Keba Arnold about technology mistakes that people typically make. These simple, but oh, so important points, are ones that we continually try to make, and Ryan puts it all together in one good video.

Watch Tech mistakes to stop making now.

The security recommendations that Ryan makes:

  • Run updates on your computer and mobile phone. Program updates and security patches are very important to keep your device up to date and running optimally.
  • Download apps and programs from places you know and trust. On your mobile phone this would be the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store. For your computer, he says it’s a little bit harder, but suggest that you visit download.com, CNET’s well-known download site where you can read user reviews and see the reputation of the app before you download.
  • Ryan reminds computer users that when they get a new device antivirus software may be pre-installed, but it is a trial for a limited time.  After it expires, you need to get protected with a quality antivirus product. Ryan recommends Avast Free Antivirus for your computer, your Mac, and your mobile phone.
  • Ms. Arnold confesses that she has one email address that acts as a catch-all for everything. Ryan says this is a no-no because if a hacker breaks into that email address, then he has access to everything. Ryan suggests that you have separate email addresses for friends and family, work, one for shopping, and one for banking.
  • Passwords, admittedly are a pain in the you-know-what. Ryan suggests using an algorithm, or a kind of personal code, to construct your own passwords. For example, you can use a line from your favorite song, say Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Use the first letter of each word, use letters from the website name, and end with a series of numbers. Each password will be unique and known only to you.

And Ryan, we have a tip for you! Small businesses like yours need security protection too, and consumer antivirus like Avast Free Antivirus, doesn’t do the trick when you need to manage multiple devices, platforms, and people in remote locations. Adding to our collection of free products is the new Avast for Business. Avast for Business is free to use for as long as you want and for an unlimited number of admins and devices.

May 1st, 2015

TGIF: Avast news wrap up for April 18 – May 1

The Avast bi weekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last two weeks.

Woman using smartphoneMost everyone knows their PC needs antivirus protection, but they don’t think about their smartphone. These days smartphones are just about as powerful and have as much or more personal information as our desktop PC at home. We answer the question do Android devices really need protection?

Avast finds porn clicker app named Dubsmash 2 on Google PlayThe answer is a resounding YES. The Avast Virus Lab gives us an example from a trusted download source, Google Play: A porn clicker app slipped into Google Play imitating the popular Dubsmash app. If we cannot completely rely on trusted app stores to weed out nasty apps, then it’s time to add an extra layer of security.

AV-Comparatives internet study 2015Once you decide that you do want to protect your Android device, you can be confident in Avast Mobile Security, Avast’s free security app available on Google Play. A survey by AV -Comparatives said that Avast was the #1 choice for mobile security in the entire world. No need to wait any longer to protect your smartphone or tablet.

newABSOne of the challenges with using a smartphone for so many activities, is that the battery gives out before we do. Our new free app Avast Battery Saver raises the bar with new Wi-Fi based smart profiles that can increase battery life by an average of 7 hours.

battery-saver-infographics-EN one sectionAvast Battery Saver has only been available for a month or so but already 200,000 customers have downloaded it from the Google Play Store. For Earth Day we highlighted battery saver users for their positive impact on the environment. Who knew that Avast Battery Saver would be so green? A cool infographic shows just how much they saved -  not only from their own battery -  but in energy costs too. Now Earth Day can be everyday!

office-workersSmall and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) run the risk of data breaches just like there Enterprise cousins. Luke Walling, the General Manager of Avast for Business, explains that the biggest threat to SMBs is not actually hackers sitting somewhere far away. The biggest threat to your SMB could be sitting in your office!

blog3-enSpeaking of Avast for Business, our new disruptive free security offering for SMBs has 75,000 new customers in just 2 months. If you have a start-up, a small business, if you work in a school or non-profit organization, then it’s time to stop paying for security protection.

Cybercrooks use lots of tricksOur researchers are constantly surprised by the creativity of malware authors. Recently, they found a new way cybercrooks trick people in giving up their banking information. It’s a crafty combination of spam email, social engineering, and a macro code embedded in an innocent looking Word document.

usb_hub_robotMost people have security protection on their computers. That’s great when there are things like the banking malware we wrote about. With all that great protection why is it that they don’t trust the warnings? The Avast Virus Lab explored why some people would rather be right than believe a malware warning.

April 30th, 2015

PCs require antivirus. Smartphones don’t. Right?

Woman using smartphone

That smartphone means a lot to her. Protect it from hackers and thieves with Avast Mobile Security.

It’s very common to find people concerned about Windows viruses and malware that say, “Oh, my PC is protected by Avast Antivirus, but we don’t need it for our smartphones and tablets.”

With more than 230 million Avast Antivirus customers, we see “only” 60 million or so Android users of Avast Mobile Security. Many more mobile devices are sold every second than desktops and notebooks together. Why are people not as concerned about the security of their smartphone as their desktop?

The AV-Comparatives survey that we wrote about yesterday  in Avast Mobile Security is the #1 choice for Android users says that Android users in North America protect their phones more than anywhere else in the world with 31 percent of respondents reporting they have protection. South America, Asia, and Europe are much lower at 17 percent.

What about the rest of the Android users?

- Do you realize that mobile malware is increasing?

- Do you realize that you (most probably) have much more personal info in your smartphone than your PC? Like photos, selfies, contacts, videos, and also banking and financial information.

- What if one of your apps is using your personal info against you like the Dubsmash 2 app we just discovered?

Your Android device needs protection

Avast Mobile Security is a complete suite for Android protection. It is completely focused on security and privacy features.

Maybe you have a friend or your girlfriend that should be reading this… Take this opportunity to introduce them to Avast Mobile Security and teach them some tips about mobile security. Maybe we’ll see a better protected world if we reduce the number of unprotected devices and the cybercrooks have more work to steal from innocents. Download Avast Mobile Security for free on Google Play.

Earn free Avast Mobile Premium

In the latest update of Avast Mobile Security, we added a referral program, so you can recommend Avast Mobile Security to your friends and family. Not only can you recommend the best mobile security app available on Google Play, but you will be rewarded for doing so; you can earn up to three months of Avast Mobile Premium for free!

Here is how it works: For every five friends you send an SMS to recommending Avast, you get one free month of Avast Mobile Premium. Cool, huh?

Do your good action today: Tell someone you care about that smartphones and tablets need to have a security app installed and updated..

 

April 21st, 2015

Avast for Business adds 75,000 new customers in just two months

Avast for Business

Luke Walling, GM of Avast for Business, had confidence in the Avast for Business product all along. But the explosion of new customers has surprised and delighted even him. ~Editor

Avast for Business is the industry’s first free, easy to use, cloud-managed security offering that protects small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) from cyber attacks and data breaches.

The new product has been available for two months, and already more than 75,000  SMB owners have enthusiastically selected Avast for Business to protect their companies.

The new, cloud-managed solution has specifically been adopted by IT consulting, education, and non-profit sectors. Early results also show a strong uptake in managed service providers, who make up 12 percent of Avast for Business’ total installed device count and 2.5 percent of its new users.

A reason for it’s booming success is because most start-ups, small businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations lack the IT infrastructure to install costly and complex on-premise security solutions. Avast for Business provides the ideal solution. It’s easily scalable and managed from anywhere. Additionally, Avast for Business starts at a price everyone can afford: free, making it a natural fit for small-to-medium-sized businesses and organizations worldwide.

Avast for Business is free for as long as you want it and for an unlimited number of admins and devices. Protect your company with Avast for Business.

Avast for Business

Avast for Business replaces expensive, complicated security solutions for SMBs.

Categories: SMB/Business Tags: , , ,
March 27th, 2015

Not your father’s antivirus protection

avtest_certified_homeuser_2015-02

Avast received the AV-Test certification for home use products.

Do I really need security on my computer anymore?

Over the years, web standards have improved and the security of operating systems and browsers have become better. Because of these advances, some people question whether they need security protection at all. But you need to remember that in parallel to positive advances in protection, cybercrooks have improved their skills and become more stealthy and targeted.

Hackers are no longer mischievous kids breaking into government agencies because they can. “These days, cybercrooks have to make business driven-decisions like the rest of us because their resources are limited,” said Ondrek Vlcek, COO of Avast.

Current malware is often disguised as legitimate applications, malicious Android apps sneak by protocols of the huge download sites, and home and business networks are being attacked via weakly protected routers.

“Threats are no longer just targeting devices, but accounts and routers. A recent example is the iCloud hack where cybercrooks stole personal photos of more than 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton,” said Vlcek. “This attack happened via their account and can as well be the result of a router hack. No matter which device you use, all Internet traffic flows through your router so you have to make sure it is secure. You don’t have to be Jennifer Lawrence to be attacked.

Not your father’s antivirus protection

Antivirus protection has come a long way since it scanned individual files. Avast has taken modern virus protection to a high art with real-time updates and heuristic scans that detect new threats it’s never even seen before.

Avast performs so well in protecting against “real-world” threats such as Trojans, worms and viruses as well as web and email threats, that it just received the AV-TEST certification for our home user products.

Avast scored perfectly in the detection of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, and had very little incidence of disruptions caused by false positives. Our consumer products have basically no measurable impact on the performance of the computer while doing things that the average user does on a daily basis: Visiting websites, downloading software, installing and running programs and copying data.

March 11th, 2015

Avast hacks devices at Mobile World Congress

MWC15 Avast logoThe Avast Mobile Security team demonstrated how easy it is to hack smartphones and tablets at the Mobile World Congress.

 

The sleekest smartphones, the coolest wearable devices, and the best in mobile security were debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. But it was hacking user’s devices at the Avast booth that had the journalist’s buzzing.

Hacking unsecured Wi-Fi is easy enough for any IT college student

Filip Chytry, a mobile malware researcher that you are familiar with if you visit our blog, set up a wireless hotspot in the Avast booth that allowed visitors to track the online activity of any device that connects.

“The site will let Avast capture passwords, messages and other information people type on the websites, and Chytry can even create dead ringers for Gmail or Facebook sign-in screens – - down to the little green padlock icon that indicates a secure connection…,” reported Bloomberg Business in The Easiest Way to Get Hacked: Use Phone at Phone Show.

The hacking demonstration illustrated what Avast found out during a global Wi-Fi hacking experiment conducted right before MWC.

“The study found that people around the world overwhelmingly prefer to connect to unsecured and unprotected Wi-Fi networks instead of password-protected networks,“ wrote Help Net Security in Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.

Avast at MWC15

Most people connect to a completely unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot without a second thought.

Security experts from Avast traveled to 9 cities on 3 continents, and found that Wi-Fi users in Asia are the most prone to attacks. Chicago and London are the most vulnerable in the USA and Europe. Avast’s spokesperson Marina Ziegler told E&T Engineering and Technology magazine, “…in London we found that 54 per cent of routers were weakly encrypted and easily accessible to hackers.”

“That means that if a hacker walks into a pub, he can access the router’s settings and for example reroute the traffic via another malicious server,” said Chytry. “That’s very easy. Every IT college student can do that.”

 

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March 6th, 2015

Why you need to protect your small business from hackers

Avast Free Antivirus protects small and medium sized businesses for free.

IT pros have used Avast Free Antivirus at home for years. It’s not a huge leap to use free Avast for Business at their place of business.

Small and medium-sized businesses face a challenge when it comes to keeping their data secure. Many companies don’t have the budget to hire a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to take care of their IT needs, and often, they think they do not have enough knowledge or time to handle it themselves, therefore the path of least resistance is to not have any security at all. At the very best SMBs use a consumer version of antivirus software.

But these days, neither of those options is a good idea. Having no protection leaves you too vulnerable, and the problem with using a consumer product in a work environment is whoever is managing the network cannot look across all computers at once and implement policy changes or updates.

Do hackers really target small businesses?

The media coverage of big time data breaches like Target, Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot may have many SMB owners thinking that they are not at risk, but even small and medium-sized businesses need to make sure that their data and that of their customers is protected.

Here’s a statistic that should get your attention: One in five small businesses are a victim of cybercrime each year, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. And of those, nearly 60% go out of business within six months after an attack. And if you need more convincing, a 2014 study of internet threats reported that 31% of businesses with fewer than 250 employees were targeted and attacked.

Why do hackers target small businesses?

Hackers like small businesses because many of them don’t have a security expert on staff, a security strategy in place, or even policies limiting the online activity of their employees. In other words, they are vulnerable.

Don’t forget that it was through a small service vendor that hackers gained access to Target’s network. Hackers may get your own customer’s data like personal records and banking credentials and your employee’s log in information, all the while targeting the bigger fish.

While hackers account for most of the data lost, there is also the chance of accidental exposure or intentional theft by an employee.

Avast for BusinessWhat can I do to protect my small business?

For mom-and-pop outfits, Avast for Business, a free business-grade security product designed especially for the small and medium-sized business owner, offers tremendous value. The management console is quite similar to our consumer products meaning that the interface is user-friendly but also powerful enough to manage multiple devices.

“Avast for Business is our answer to providing businesses from startup to maturity a tool for the best protection, and there’s no reason for even the smallest of companies not to use it, because it starts at a price everyone can afford, free,” said Luke Walling, GM and VP of SMB at Avast.

Some companies may still opt to pay for a MSP, and in many cases, especially for medical or legal organizations, handing over administration to a third-party may be a good way to go. Either way, our freemium SMB security can be used, and if you use a MSP then the savings can be passed on to you.

Is free good enough for a business?

Many IT professionals have been using free security on their home computers for years. It’s not such a huge leap of faith to consider the benefits of making the switch in their businesses as well.

“I have been using Avast since 2003 at home, with friends, with family. You really come to trust and know a product over the years. It lends itself to business use really well, nothing held back,” said Kyle Barker of Championship Networks, a Charlotte-area MSP.

How do I get Avast for Business?

Visit Avast for Business and sign up for it there.

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February 24th, 2015

Are you as smart as your smartphone?

Smart phone

How do I find my apps on this thing?

Not too many years ago we had phones that only made calls. Smartphones are the newest generation of phones that bring a lot of possibilities right to our fingers through the apps specifically designed for them. We all got used to the Windows (or Mac) world, but now we are witnessing a revolution from “standard” programs and some specialized tools to a world where every common thing can be done by our smartphones. Sometimes it seems, that the device is smarter than we are!

But can it protect itself from the increasing number of threats?

You’ll find a lot of articles on the Internet which state that security companies exaggerate the need for mobile security and antivirus protection. You’ll read that Google Play and the new security technologies of Android Lollipop are the only things necessary for security. I could post many examples of such (bad) tips, but I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

Do you use only Google Play as your app source?

A common (and wise) security tip is to stick with Google Play for downloading apps. This is good advice despite the fact that we see here in the Avast blog that Google Play fails to detect some apps as malware. Look for our mobile malware senior virus analyst Filip Chytry’s articles. He continuously discovers holes in Google Play security.

However, what if you want apps that have been banned from Google Play? No, I’m not talking about (just) adult apps. Google banned anti-ad apps, for instance. So where is a safe place to get them? The answer is simple: outside of Google Play. The Amazon Appstore for Android is quickly increasing the possibilities.

Do you think that clean apps can’t become bad ones?

Clean apps can become bad ones, and with the new Google Play permission scheme, you may not even notice. This makes updating your apps (another very common and wise hint) an additional complication.

As the apps we love can turn against us, the best tip of all is that you install a mobile security app that helps you know what it being added to your phone.  Avast Mobile Security updates its virus database very often to detect the latest threats and allows you to install securely all the apps you love.

This makes you smarter than your smartphone! ;-)

 

February 23rd, 2015

Business owners rejoice – you can now get business-grade security for free from Avast

Avast is pleased to offer the World’s First Free Business-Grade Security to small and medium-sized businesses.

Avast for Business protects SMBs for free

In a move that will make a difference to the security of local businesses across the USA and the UK, Avast launches Avast for Business—a free, easy to use, cloud-managed security offering that protects small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from viruses and cyber attacks.

This is the first free information security product built specifically for businesses with cross-platform protection, meaning that it protects both PCs and Macs. It solves a problem that many businesses have: No IT staff, lean IT budgets, lack of know-how, or even any security at all.

“Since 2001 we’ve delivered great, free security products for home users,” said Vince Steckler, Chief Executive Officer of Avast. “We believe the time is right to provide great security that is not only free, but also simple for SMBs to implement and manage. A small business may not view their customer database or online orders at the same level as data of an enterprise. Avast for Business addresses the problem of those businesses using consumer products and not being adequately protected; it gives those enterprises a business-class solution they can grow with.”

Avast for Business is easy for SMB owners to install, configure and manage advanced security solutions with or without the help of a full-time IT manager. Users are able to effortlessly monitor, manage and protect devices anywhere, anytime from Avast’s cloud-management console.

“Anybody can use the interface,” said Kyle Barker of Championship Networks, an Avast partner in North Carolina, USA. “If you’ve ever seen a simple installment of Avast, you’ve seen the interface, you know the controls. Anybody that ever used the small office console already knows every feature that’s in this product. It’s a simple transition.”

From the easy-to-navigate console, users have the ability to configure robust reporting and alerting to easily stay on top of what is happening inside of their environment. Avast for Business features include:

  • Free Essential Antivirus protection (File Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield)
  • HTTP and HTTPS Threat Scanning & Integrated Browser Protection
  • A Web-based management console that is accessible anywhere, anytime.
  • Robust reporting and alerting engine
  • Cross-Platform Support including Windows and Mac OSX.

For advanced security requirements, Avast for Business also offers premium services. There are no limits on the number of protected devices, and businesses can activate and deactivate licenses as needed. This allows them to grow comfortably without the concern of overwhelming costs.

“It’s very easy to choose on a month to month basis the number of licenses you want. Any number of licenses can be mixed from free and premium and you can change this on a month to month basis,” said Barker.

Later in 2015, Avast will introduce programs for managed service providers and the reseller channel, to benefit from the power of free. In the spring, Avast will form its first ever partner advisory council in order to bring partners closer to Avast, to discuss features and functions specific to their needs.

February 18th, 2015

Is logging into your smartphone, websites, or apps with a fingerprint secure?

Fingerprint authentication

Fingerprint authentication is not as safe as you would think

Just because logging in with your finger is convenient doesn’t mean it’s the best method to use.

Some days ago we told you about increasing your security on sites and in services by using two-factor authentication. More and more services are using this two-factor log in method. They require that you use “something you know” like a PIN or a password, “something you have” like a token app in your smartphone, and even “something you are” like your fingerprints, for instance.

Many top smartphones – starting with iPhone 5s and newer Androids – are moving to fingerprint authentication technology. That means you can unlock your phone using your finger. It’s more convenient than typing a PIN or password because you always have your finger with you (we hope!).  And you would think that it is more secure than using a gesture or pattern to unlock it.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Here’s why:

The authentication process requires that a site or a service (or your smartphone) could recognize you for a thing you know: A PIN or a password. This information must be stored in the service server (or hardware) and it must be matched, i.e., the combination of two pieces (generally username and password) must match to allow access to the right person.

Both you and the service must know this secret combination. But that’s the problem; nowadays, a lot of sites and services have been compromised and pairs of username/passwords have been hacked and sold on the black market.

But what about using your fingerprint? It’s the same scenario.  The information about your finger and the technology to match your fingerprint is stored in servers. If they are hacked, your exact, and only, information would be in their hands.

It gets worse.

You can change your credentials to log into a site or service, but you can’t just change your finger! Well, most of us have 9 more chances after the first one is compromised, but still -  there are more than just 10 services you want to use. You can change your passwords indefinitely, you can use a stronger password, you can use a password generation service -  you’ve got the idea… But you don’t have that many choices with your fingerprint.

It gets even worse.

Everything you touch reveals you. You’re publishing your own secret.

Can you imagine banks or stores letting you use your fingerprint to gain access to your account without even a card? Coincidentally, just hours ago a news report was published saying the Royal Bank of Scotland and MasterCard recently made announcements regarding fingerprint authentication services. They announced that customers can log into the banks’ mobile banking app using their fingerprint. It’s interesting that this article says 16- to 24- years olds are driving this decision because

they want to avoid security slowing down the process of making a payment, with 64% of those surveyed saying they found existing security irritating.

This decision by major banks does not give us confidence in the security of the younger generation and their bank accounts. We venture to wonder about the police with their databases full of prints. What could be done with millions of fingerprints stored by the government?

By the end of last year, young researchers from the Chaos Computer Club showed that your fingerprints could be obtained by photos of your hands and from anything you touched. See the full presentation in this YouTube video. If you have the curiosity to see all the video, you’ll see that using your iris could also be simulated with high quality printed photos. At 30:40 starts the iPhone fingerprint hacking. They took 2 days to develop the method and presented it in a few minutes. Amazing and scary.

Here’s another video with a quick summary of the research.

How to make yourself and your phone more secure

This blog is a source of great information. Earlier this month, we shared 14 easy things you can do right now to make your devices more secure. Please read 14 easy tips to protect your smartphones and tablets – Part I and Part II.

As always, make sure your Android device is protected with Avast Mobile Security. Install Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus from the Google Play store, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Avast.android.mobilesecurity