Cybersecurity is not limited to your office or home. Nowadays, many of us use the same devices for work and personal business, so when traveling we need to be extra diligent to protect our devices and the data we have on them. If you use common sense and a bit of Avast technology, all your devices – laptops, smartphones, and tablets, can remain secure wherever you are.
Here are a few things you can do before you go and while you’re on-the-road:
1. Install antivirus protection. Your first and best line of defense on your PC or Android device is antivirus protection. Install it and make sure it is up-to-date.
2. Keep your operating system and software up-to-date. Hackers take advantage of software with security holes that have not been plugged, so take time regularly to make sure that your software and apps have patches and updates applied.
3. Lock down your device. Make it a habit to lock your PC and phone with a PIN, password, or even a fingerprint. Avast Mobile Security even allows you to password-protect your apps. Before you travel, make sure your critical apps, like access to your bank, are protected.
That online shopping increases day by day is not news. If you are an average user, you are probably already aware of the normal precautions and have taken them yourself. Ease of use and convenience when browsing for different products or searching for the best prices has improved greatly. However, at the same time, online threats and frauds have also increased exponentially. Therefore, from time to time, all of us must review our behavior and think again if our habits are secure.
Best practices while online shopping
1. Use your own computer or mobile device when shopping. It seems obvious, but you cannot trust a computer that does not belong to you, even your best friend’s computer. It might not have appropriate protection and it could already be compromised by malware. So, always use your own device, install an anti-malware solution and before you start doing anything that involves your money, scan your network to discover if it is safe.
If you have a smartphone, you are basically carrying around a pocket-sized laptop with a built-in camera and phone. Denser electronics have allowed for some powerful features to be built into a small package, but the weak link is the battery that runs it all. Battery energy has yet to match the quick growth of features on electronic devices.
Where does the juice go?
The power it takes to keep the device running all day depends upon what you do as well as your operating system, settings, and network (Wi-Fi, CDMA/GSM, 2G/3G/4G), but battery manufacturers say typical Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries provide up to ten hours talk time and up to 300 hours standby time.
Apps drain the battery. They sit in the background pinging servers, keeping track of where you are, and waiting for signals. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS use power looking for routers and satellites or other Bluetooth devices. The display uses lots of power too, especially at full brightness and if you do graphic-intensive activities like play games.
The environment also has an impact on Li-ion batteries. They suffer from stress when exposed to temperatures above 30°C/86°F. This high heat accelerates capacity loss which cannot be restored. Likewise, cold can decrease electricity flow, making your device sluggish.
When do I need to replace my battery?
Conventional wisdom says you’ll probably need a new phone battery each year. Factors like charge and discharge cycles, exposure to high temperatures, and aging decrease performance over time. Manufacturers say the life of most Li-on range between 300 and 500 cycles. Beyond this lifespan, batteries gradually diminish below 50 percent of the original capacity.
If you notice that your battery depletes rapidly, fails to hold a full charge, or feels abnormally warm then most likely it’s time to replace your phone’s battery.
How to save battery life?
- Use Avast Battery Saver. Our free app from Google Play optimizes phone settings using ‘Smart profiles’ which activate automatically based on time, location, and battery level. This saves up to 20% on one charge.
- Avoid full discharges and charge the battery more often between uses.
- Limit exposure to extreme temperatures, especially heat. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car. Room temperature is best.
- Lower your screen brightness. You can experiment, but usually anywhere above 50% is still readable. Some phones let you set it to auto-adjust.
- Turn off vibrate, ringtones, and the flash on your camera.
- Keep apps updated. The updates often improve battery usage by making the apps more efficient.
- When in areas with no cell coverage, turn the device to airplane mode or even turn it off. Otherwise, the phone will continue to search for a signal and that eats battery.
- Limit graphics-intensive activities like gaming and watching videos.
- Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS when you don’t need them.
Read more about Avast Battery Saver, Fear and loathing on Google Play: An in-depth look at today’s battery saving and cleaning apps.
The future of smartphone batteries
The race for a safe, cheap, long-lasting, energy-rich battery is on. With electric cars, wearable tech, and the Internet of Things running our households, inventors, scientists and business people are searching for the breakthrough that will change batteries forever. The next-generation of batteries may well be built with silicon-based electrodes, take advantage of the oxygen we breathe to recharge power cells, or be organic.
Just last week, a super-fast (1 minute!) chargeable aluminum-ion battery with a high-charge storage capacity developed at Stanford University was announced. This low cost, durable (it was able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity) battery is not ready to be mass produced, but it holds promise.
Until that time comes though, used the Avast Battery Saver free app to extend the life of your phone’s battery.
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.
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.
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.
A few precautions can make a huge difference in the safety of your phone and the important things you saved 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.
Earlier 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!
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 and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…