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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.

February 2nd, 2015

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

A few precautions can make a huge difference in the safety of your phone and the important things you saved on it.

Protect your smartphone

Follow our tips to secure your phone and the data 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.

January 21st, 2014

5 security tips from an expert AVAST Evangelist

howto2_enEarlier this month we introduced you to AVAST Evangelist: Paulius Yla. With nearly 10 years of experience gained from supporting users on the AVAST forum, Paulius can be easily called an AVAST expert. He has been using our software since 2003 and participated in testing dozens of AVAST products. Paulius has shared with us 5 basic and MUST-FOLLOW security tips!

Check it out and don’t forget to follow these steps:

  • Antivirus software is a MUST. Don’t believe your friends if the say you don’t need it, it only slows your PC, and so on. It must be installed and must be up-to-date.
  • A Firewall must be enabled too, at least the integrated one.
  • Never use cracked illegal software, especially Operating Systems (OS). You will never know what backdoor can be included in it.
  • Never ignore OS updates, leave automatic updates on. Other software updates are also important. In most cases they are fixing bugs, security holes etc., and improving your internet security.
  • Believe me, the internet is a wild place, so try to avoid sites with a bad reputation or risky sites (peer-to-peer, adult sites, etc.) There is no AV solution which can protect you from 100% of threats, so use your head, too!

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September 4th, 2013

How to keep your Windows system running like new

speed computer

The top active members in one of our largest and most active communities, the AVAST forum, are called evangelists. These evangelists are technically skilled people who love to help and guide our users, free or paid, through the technology and security jungle. They try to keep things simple for all levels and in this blog, they want to share with you how to keep your Windows system running like new indefinitely. Isn’t it a dream of all of us? Let’s go!

A clean machine is a fast machine

  • Keep your computer clean and vents unobstructed: If it overheats the performance decreases. If you haven’t looked at the bottom of your computer since you took it out of the box, chances are that the vents are filled with dust bunnies. Turn off your computer and carefully use your vacuum cleaner attachment to suck the dust out.
  • Clean your disk of temporary files and defragment to help with your computer performance. We suggest CCleaner for both file and Windows Registry cleaning. It’s safe and removes registry entries left behind after simple uninstallation of programs. Windows has a built-in defragmenter and there are many other free ones on the internet.
  • RAM (memory) is cheap nowadays and worth every cent you pay for the memory sticks, especially if you use memory-intensive programs like Photoshop or a video editor. Before you try to give your machine a faster, smoother ride, you need to know your hardware limits.

Multi-tasking slows you (and your machine) down

  • Keep in mind that you do not need to multi-task all the time or, in other words, do not run many programs at the same time. For multi-tasking,  split your work between your smartphone or tablet, for instance, listen to music, browse or read mail on your tablet while you work on an your laptop. Read more…
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July 8th, 2013

Security tips from AVAST Forum Evangelists

The AVAST forum is one of our largest and most active communities, with more than 300,000 users. The most active people on the forum are called Evangelists. They spend a great deal of their free time answering user questions and helping to sort out issues of all kinds. You can meet them on the AVAST forum, where you can get assistance and support any time.

forum evangelists

Because of the Evangelists’ extensive experience and knowledge, we asked them to share their top tips on maintaining a secure computer or device. Here are their main tips:

  • Keep Windows and all other programs up-to-date (especially browsers and avast! Antivirus) and use only official sites for updating. For more convenience, you can use the avast! Software Updater feature to do it. Avoid P2P, cracks, patches and pirated software. On Android, use Google Play as the app source.
  • Don’t be a happy clicker, especially on social media sites and while installing programs. Always install programs via the custom mode and read the screens before clicking next. If something looks fishy, it probably is.
  • Take care about the sites you visit, knowing that legitimate websites can also be hacked. Use avast! SafeZone for web browsing whenever possible, especially while using online banking.  AVAST also provides a full isolated environment called avast! Sandbox.
  • Use different and strong passwords: Numbers, upper and lower case letters, symbols, etc. avast! EasyPass could help you manage this.
  • Keep your anti-malware protection always on, for instance, while gaming and installing programs. Community games are usually safer than the supposed official games you find online. Take extra care – or avoid completely – free public cheats for multiplayer games, especially downloaded from third party URLs.
  • Be alert for social engineering scams and emails. Do not open attachments from an unknown sender. Remember that not everyone is really your friend. Always use common sense.
  • Have backup strategies: When, what, local and remote. Remember: Better safe than sorry. AVAST offers an online backup solution too.
  • Use a firewall that manages the access of applications to the internet. Take care on open WiFi hotspots. At home, be sure to use strong WiFi passwords.

Special thanks to our AVAST forum members who have contributed these tips: Bob, Charyb, Essexboy, Omid, George Yves, Iroc, Donovan, Polonus, Ylap, Mac, Para-Noid, Coolmario, Dwarden and Jeffce. If you ever have a question, please log on to the AVAST forum and ask. Our forum evangelists are happy to assist you.

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, Google+ and Instagram.

July 8th, 2011

5 tips to keep your Mac secure

Apple’s ‘cloak of invulnerability’ has lately been shredded by the MacDefender fake antivirus and the Pinhead and Boonana Trojans. Don’t worry, be proactive. Here are five tips to make your Mac more secure:

1. Don’t use ‘automatic login’

It’s cool to turn your computer on and instantly use it. But troubles can start when a computer is turned on by someone other than its owner… If you are concerned about your sensitive data, you can encrypt or simply disable the ‘automatic login’ function.  Here’s how to do it:

1) Go to System Preferences > Security

2) Authenticate yourself by clicking Click the lock to make changes

3) Check Disable automatic login Read more…

Categories: Mac Tags: , , , , ,
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July 17th, 2009

avast’s Top 5 Hidden Gems

Most users are not able to tell the difference between various antivirus software applications. They consider all the applications pretty much equivalent (function-wise) and usually decide which one to use according to subjective things like prettiness of the user interface, ease of use or lightness on system resources (and of course, the price).

More experienced users sometimes try to search for independent reviews and pay attention to detection rates measured in comparative tests. The problem is that these reviews and tests often produce conflicting results, making the situation even more confusing. In addition, most of these tests only perform on-demand scans, completely ignoring the on-access (and pro-active) parts of the product.

In this article, I’d like to pinpoint 5 features of avast! that we feel are pretty unique, and differentiate us from the pack. Read more…

Categories: Technology Tags: , , ,