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April 3rd, 2015

TGIF: Avast News Wrap-up for March 18 – April 2 2015

The Avast biweekly wrap-up is a quick summary of what was on the Avast blog for the last 2 weeks .

Watch March Madness with SecureLine VPNMarch Madness wraps up on April 6th. Even if you are traveling abroad, all you basketball fans can watch the game using a VPN service. Stay safe during March Madness using Avast SecureLine explains why you should always use VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, plus the added benefit of being able to watch geo-restricted content online.

laptop and routersSpeaking of Wi-Fi – Just like in real estate, one of the most important things for your router is location, location, location. 5 things you can do to boost your Wi-Fi network shares helpful things that you can do yourself to make your Wi-Fi signal stronger within your home or business.

IMG_20150328_115931I run because I really REALLY like Beer!

Team Avast rocked it at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon.

WBDWorld Backup Day was a good reminder that we need to take time to prevent data loss on our PCs and mobile phones. We discovered that one of the main reasons that people do not back up their data is because they are lazy.

Remote AssistanceThe family IT expert knows how frustrating it can be to help someone solve a computer problem over the phone. Avast makes it easier with our Remote Assistance service. Now you can Help others with their computer issues using Avast Remote Assistance.

For those of you who like to DIY, you can learn How to use the Avast Virus Chest and what actions you can perform on files inside the chest.

avtest_certified_homeuser_2015-02With all the security improvements in browsers and operating systems, some people have questioned whether they still need antivirus protection. The business of malware has changed, but it can still be devastating if you are targeted. COO Ondrek Vlcek explains why Avast is not your father’s antivirus protection.

March 23rd, 2015

Stay safe during March Madness using Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine VPN lets you watch March Madness while traveling.

Avast SecureLine VPN gives you access to geo-restricted programming and protects you from unsecured Wi-Fi.

Stay safe on public Wi-Fi while watching the game from anywhere in the world with Avast SecureLine VPN.

March Madness is in full swing — this year’s NCAA Tournament is now in its second week and we’re already down to the Sweet 16. When you think about March Madness, you probably think about your bracket, your favorite college basketball teams, and the bets you’ll place on those who you think will win the tournament.  Although it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of March Madness, it’s the betting process that you should really be paying attention to: this popular activity serves as the perfect opportunity for hackers to access your personal information.

Since most people watch the NCAA games in bars or cafes with friends, they make the majority of their bets using their mobile devices while connected to public and often unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they‘re not safe. Cybercrooks can easily access and steal personal data when you‘re connected to these unprotected networks. Even if you’re transmitting data from one HTTPS site to another, it’s the connection in-between the two sites that really puts your data at risk. Additionally, developments such as real-time betting make the odds for getting hacked even greater.

During March Madness, a time of year when so many financial transactions are being made, cybercrooks are especially likely to steal your banking info (e.g. your credit card and/or account numbers) and personal info (e.g. your social security number, social media accounts, etc.). Avast SecureLine VPN for Android and updated for iOS devices keeps these cybercrooks at bay and securely allows you to use your PCs, smartphones, and tablets on unsecure Wi-Fi networks while participating in March Madness at your favorite bar or cafe.

“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, COO at AVAST. “We created Avast SecureLine VPN to allow users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”

Watch content from all over the world

You don’t have to miss a single game or your favorite program while you are traveling. SecureLine VPN makes it look like you’re connected from a different location, allowing you to view ‘local’ content anywhere because your shown geo-IP address will be different from your real one.

Play geo-restricted content from all over the world.

Play content from all over the world while connected via SecureLine VPN.

 

Keep your data and identity safe using Avast SecureLine

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Avast SecureLine VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything –  inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since Avast SecureLine masks your IP address.

For those of you interested in technical specs, here are the highlights:

  • Avast Secureline VPN uses OpenVPN protocol.
  • The encryption used is 256bit AES.
  • Communication on all ports is encrypted.

How to get Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Android on Google Play and for iOS in the Apple App Store.

 

March 2nd, 2015

New Avast SecureMe app protects iOS and Android users from Wi-Fi Hacking

Avast mobile security experts launched a new app today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Avast booth at MWC15

Avast launches SecureMe app for iOS and Android at Mobile World Congress 2015

Avast SecureMe is the world’s first application that gives iPhone and iPad users a tool to protect their devices and personal data when they connect to Wi-Fi networks. The free app automatically locates Wi-Fi networks and tells users which of them are safe. Since many users connect without knowing the status of the Wi-Fi network – whether it’s protected or not – Avast SecureMe will create a secure connection in order to keep them safe.

“Public Wi-Fi and unsecured routers have become prime targets for hackers, which presents new risks for smartphones and tablets – even iOS devices aren’t immune,” said Jude McColgan, President of Mobile at Avast.

Avast SecureMe will be available in a invitation-only public beta test within the next few weeks. Please sign up here, and the SecureMe team will contact you.

The app notifies you if it finds security issues

Avast SecureMe includes a feature called Wi-Fi Security. (This feature is also available for Android users within the Avast Mobile Security app available on Google Play.) People who use open Wi-Fi in public areas such as airports, hotels, or cafes will find this helpful. This 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.

“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 McColgan.

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.

The SecureMe app includes a VPN to protect your privacy

Avast SecureMe features a VPN to secure your connections while you conduct online tasks you want to remain private, especially checking emails, doing your online banking, and even visiting your favorite social network sites. Avast SecureMe automatically connects to the secure VPN when it detects that you have connected to a public Wi-Fi making all transferred data invisible to prying eyes. For convenience, you can disable the protection for Wi-Fi connections you trust, like your home network.

Beta Testing

Avast SecureMe for iOS will be available soon in the iTunes Store. Before it’s widespread release, we will conduct an invitation-only public beta test. Please sign up here, and the SecureMe team will contact you.

The Wi-Fi Security feature is now also included in the Avast Mobile Security app for Android, available on Google Play.

February 20th, 2015

Americans willingly risk privacy and identity on open Wi-Fi

Is the convenience of open Wi-Fi worth the risk of identity theft? Most Americans think so.

In a recent survey, we found that only 6% of Americans protect their data by using a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi with their smartphone or tablet.  That leaves a whopping 94% unprotected. Why is this?

Do people not know the risks of using unsecured public Wi-Fi?

Is avoiding data overages or the convenience of no password more important than the data on their devices?

Are they not aware that there is protection available?

Are they scared they won’t understand how to use VPN because of the technical sounding name?

The truth about open, public Wi-Fi

The truth is that using unprotected Wi-Fi networks could end up costing you your privacy and identity when you use them without protection like Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. This is because unsecured networks, those are the ones that do not require registration or a password, give cybercrooks easy access to sensitive personal information.

“As mobile cloud storage becomes more popular and the quest for free Wi-Fi continues to grow, open networks that require no passwords place unprotected consumers at great risk of compromising sensitive personal data,” said Jude McColgan, president of mobile at Avast.

“The majority of Americans don’t realize that all the personal information on their mobile devices becomes defenseless over public Wi-Fi if used without protection. These networks create an easy entry point for hackers to attack millions of American consumers on a daily basis.”

WiFi survey blog

Avast can protect you and it’s not hard or expensive

“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, Chief Operating Officer at Avast. “Avast SecureLine VPN allows users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”

Avast SecureLine VPN protects your Internet connections with military-grade encryption and hides your IP address. If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, what it means is that essentially our VPN protection makes your device invisible to cybercriminals. In addition to that, using the VPN hides your browsing history, so no one can monitor your behavior online. We assure you, it’s as easy as can be to use.

Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Android phones and tablets on Google Play and for iOS devices in the Apple App Store. We also have VPN available for Windows PCs.

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.

December 17th, 2014

South Korea hit with banking malware using VPN connection

South Korean banks have been attacked by hackers again!

This is not the first time we reported malware which targets Korean banking customers. In the past, we wrote about Chinese threats against Korean Windows users and last year we published a series of blogposts, Fake Korean bank applications for Android (part 1, part 2, part 3), about malware targeting mobile platforms.

The Korean banking malware is based on the same principle previously used. The customer executes the infected binary, which modifies Windows hosts file. This file contains a list of domains with assigned IP addresses.  Malware, however, may modify this file. When a customer wants to visit his online bank website, he is redirected to the IP address specified in the hosts file, not to the original bank website!

XP Debugging2

The piece of malware we will discuss in this blog post performs the above mentioned modification of system settings. However, when we looked into the modified hosts file, we noticed something unusual.

Read more…

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August 21st, 2014

Employees using public Wi-Fi put sensitive business data at risk – VPN services provide proper protection

travel tipsJohn Smith works for a small business with ten employees. The company is sending John abroad to meet with potential investors. Being the productive employee that John is, he connects to the public Wi-Fi provided by the airport to do some work. He visits the investors’ websites and sends a few emails to his colleagues. On the flight, John continues to surf the web using the in-flight Wi-Fi. Once John lands he goes to a café before his first meeting. At the café he connects to the Wi-Fi to download a revised version of his presentation. After his meetings, John goes to his hotel for the night. There, John connects to the hotel’s Wi-Fi to send his boss a summary of the meetings and to catch up on some news from home. To John’s disappointment, local news videos are blocked due to geographic restrictions.

This sequence of events is typical for traveling business professionals. Connecting to public Wi-Fi frequently while on the go may be a great way to get work done, but it can be dangerous if employees don’t use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.

During John’s journey he connects to four different hotspots. John works for a small business, so they do not have an IT administrator who set up a secure VPN for John to use. John therefore transferred valuable information, entered log in credentials, and browsed websites that reveal his business’ intentions without any protection. Anyone could observe which websites John visited, read messages he sent, and access files he transferred via unsecured sites with tools readily available online.

Unless you are visiting sites beginning with HTTPS, your communication is unencrypted. This means all your communication is out in the open for anyone to see, including log in credentials. Sharing information, such as files, via file transfer protocol (FTP) while connected to public Wi-Fi is also never a good idea. Like visiting non-HTTPS sites, files and data transferred via FTP are up for grabs.

Don't forgetSmall businesses, without a VPN network, should turn to VPN services, like avast! SecureLine VPN to protect their data. A VPN creates a virtual shield and tunnels traffic to a proxy server. The proxy server protects business data, thus preventing hackers from accessing files and other sensitive information stored on the device. VPNs also anonymize location; an added plus for when business professionals who need access to content from home that may be blocked while traveling.

REMEMBER THIS!

With a VPN connection you can:

  • Protect your business data by preventing hackers from accessing files and other sensitive information stored on the device
  • Anonymize your location (IP address) online so you can access restricted content from home that might be blocked while traveling (Netflix, anyone?)
  • Hide your login details from snoops on public Wi-Fi. Avast encrypts all of your web use, including log ins and passwords.

avast! SecureLine VPN is available in packages of three, five or ten licenses and can be purchased from authorized AVAST resellers. avast! SecureLine VPN can also be purchased directly from the AVAST online shop.

Read more about VPN and avast! SecureLine from these blog posts:

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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June 10th, 2014

Keep your phone safe from hackers and thieves while on vacation

Traveling to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, or just headed out to your local beach for a daytrip? You remember to pack your sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of sunblock, but don’t forget that your mobile gadgets need protection too.

world-cup-hackers Here’s a couple more items for your packing list:

  • avast! SecureLine VPN to protect against dodgy public WiFi
  • avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft to protect against thieves

That free WiFi HotSpot could get you in hot water!

Spectators at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will have lots of choices of free WiFi. At least 6 of the 12 World Cup stadiums have access to free WiFi built in, and planners have created WiFi hotspots across 2,300 access points, including parks, squares, and public transit stations. Fans not watching in person will check scores on their phone or watch live streaming matches by connecting to free WiFi at hotels and bars.

“A WiFi attack on an open network can take less than 2 seconds,” tweeted @ExtremeNetworks recently. Cybercrooks can access and steal your personal data when you connect to these unprotected networks. Having your identity stolen and bank account emptied out while on vacation could ruin any trip – even one to paradise!

“Hackers target public hotspots, where it’s easy to follow every move that users of the WiFi connection make, allowing them to access emails, passwords, documents, and browsing behavior,” said Vincent Steckler, Chief Executive Officer of AVAST Software.

Use a VPN service to make sure that doesn’t happen. avast! SecureLine VPN protects your privacy by making your logins, emails, instant messages, and credit card details invisible to spying.

Read more…

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March 28th, 2014

How to watch American TV when traveling overseas

Question of the week: I don’t want to miss my team play basketball in the March Madness tournament, but I have to go on a business trip to Europe next week. How can I watch US TV when I am traveling overseas?

AVAST_March Madness

This is a great question. TV has never been better, so it’s hard to miss an episode of The Walking Dead or House of Cards when traveling. As for sports – OMG! when you’re team is doing great (Go Gators!), it’s not enough to just read about it online. For our friends outside the USA, March Madness, the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, is in full swing and fans are following closely (think the UEFA Champions League or World Cup.) College basketball fans eagerly follow as 64 teams progress through the rounds to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and at last, the championship game known as “The Big Dance.”

IMG-georestrictionsmWhen in the U.S., you can watch on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV, as well as live stream current games and replays through the NCAA March Madness Live web site and downloadable app for mobile devices. But when you’re out of the country, you often don’t have access because of geo-restricted content. You may have seen messages similar to this one from YouTube, that says, “This video is not available in your country.”

20140326_avast_secureline_securely connected via USUse a VPN service to access geo-restricted content

Many expats and travelers use a VPN service to access streaming services while living or traveling in foreign countries.  The VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to securely connect to a server of your choice, so that it acts as a “proxy” from a different location than where you are.

avast! SecureLine VPN is one of those services. If you are traveling in Europe, then select a server in the U.S. to access geo-restricted sites. When you log on to CBS, Netflix, Hulu, etc, the service will identify the server as coming from the correct location, and allow you to log on.

VPN adds security when using free WiFi

Another benefit of VPN when traveling is the security you get when using free WiFi at hotels and airports. The VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for your data to travel through, and everything – your web browsing history, your email, your IMs, your VOIP, everything –  inbound and outbound through the tunnel is encrypted. Even if your data is intercepted, your identity is protected, since the VPN masks your IP address. Read more about the security aspect in our previous blog, avast! SecureLine protects your Android or iPhone from cybercriminal surveillance.

How to get avast! SecureLine VPN

avast! SecureLine VPN is completely integrated into all of AVAST’s free and premium products and is available for Android and iOS devices and PCs.

avast! SecureLine VPN is available as a monthly or yearly subscription for Android on Google Play, PCs on the avast! website, and an annual subscription for iOS in the Apple App Store.

Ask a question

If you have a question about any of AVAST’s products, please send them to wannabesocial@avast.com. If we answer your question, we will send you an avast! Teddy Bear.

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.

February 24th, 2014

AVAST demonstrates everyday security techniques at Mobile World Congress!

MWC2014Mobile World Congress (#MWC14) starts today in Barcelona, Spain! It’s an exciting and must-visit event for the entire mobile industry, and of course, the AVAST mobile security team is participating.

Between February 24th-27th, visitors to AVAST booth – 5K29 in Hall 5 will learn how to stay safe from spying eyes and rampant security flaws including Apple’s recent exploit. We have prepared an interesting program, including live previews of all avast! SecureLine VPN and avast! Mobile Security features.

At the booth, the multi-lingual team will educate visitors  about how AVAST’s various security products (for PC, Android, and iOS) can protect you from malicious programs regardless of origin or type, including malware from governments and official institutions. Products on display are:

avast! Secureline VPN

Visitors will learn how to use avast! Secureline VPN to anonymize public WiFi browsing.  SecureLine is effective protection against hackers and spies accessing personal data and browsing activities as well as the threat of “man-in-the-middle-attacks” from the recent Apple SSL encryption bug.

avast! Mobile Security

The AVAST team will teach you how to use avast! Mobile Security to protect your Android devices from spies and hackers, avoid data loss, as well as defend against device theft, and malicious programs – including spy-agency malware that is whitelisted by others.

avast! Anti-Theft

The team will also explain how avast! Anti-Theft works. You will learn how to view the location of a lost or stolen phone, activate an alarm, delete personal data to prevent unauthorized access, and even take photos of any thief and record their voice in order to recover a stolen device.

For the press

Journalists interested in speaking to an AVAST expert at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, can meet up with our Security Experts.  To arrange a meeting, contact our PR manager Marina Ziegler via email at ziegler@avast.com or tweet her at @Marina_Z.

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