With the release of their newest operating system just days away, now is not the most convenient time for Microsoft to be facing and dealing with security bugs. However, two thirds of all 1.5 billion PCs operated by Windows across the globe were recently left vulnerable due to a security flaw found in nearly every version of Windows, including Windows 10 Insider Preview.
The flaw (MS15-078) lies within the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library and can be exploited by cybercriminals to hijack PCs and/or infect them with malware. Users can be attacked when they visit untrusted websites that contain malicious embedded OpenType fonts. Microsoft explains more about the threat in a security bulletin advisory:
An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.
There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit this vulnerability, such as by convincing a user to open a specially crafted document, or by convincing a user to visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library handles OpenType fonts.
The flaw has been classified as critical, which is Microsoft’s highest measured level of threat. Anyone running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Server 2008, Server 2012 and Windows RT are affected by the flaw. Microsoft’s online Security TechCenter includes a full list of affected software and additional vulnerability information.
Windows 10 will be launching in T-minus seven days and will be offered for free within its first year of availability to Windows 7 and 8 users. Not only will the beloved Start button be back in Windows 10, but Windows 10 will also include a personal assistant, Cortana. What’s more, the new operating system will introduce many promising security features and a new browser.
Hello there, Windows Hello and Passport!
Windows Hello is biometric authentication that either scans your face, iris or fingerprint to access your Windows 10 device – very secret agent-like security! By doing so, Windows Hello eliminates the chance of hackers stealing your password to access your device, simply because you will no longer have a password to begin with!
Windows Passport also eliminates the use of passwords to access your online accounts. For now, Microsoft will work with the Azure Active Directory and has joined the FIDO alliance to subsequently support password replacement for other consumer, financial and security services. Windows will verify that you are truly the one using your device through a PIN or via Windows Hello, and then it will authenticate Windows Passport so you can log in to websites and services without ever using a password. Combined use of Windows Hello and Windows Passport would mean that a hacker would not only have to physically steal your device, but also kidnap you to access your accounts.
You will, of course, need hardware that is capable of infrared scanning your face or iris, or that has a built-in fingerprint reader to use Windows Hello. Microsoft has already confirmed that all OEM systems with Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera (F200) will support Windows Hello’s facial unlock features.
Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that the Windows 10 official launch date will be on July 29 and will be available as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users (for one year). This latest OS will be available to pre-order in the upcoming weeks when it launches in 190 different markets across the globe. In anticipation of Microsoft’s exciting new OS, this Techradar article takes a brief look at the operating system’s past:
With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.
Now, Windows 10 has emerged as an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways – a truly innovative move from Microsoft’s side. Its big reveal is now quickly approaching, and tech enthusiasts everywhere are curious to see how this OS will measure up.
Will Avast be compatible with Windows 10?
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..
Today’s biggest threat to the normal consumer is the consumer themselves.
This bold statement was made by Avast CEO Vincent Steckler in an interview with German technology website Valuetech in Munich last week. That’s a daring position to take after this year’s revelations about NSA spying, the theft of tens of millions of customer passwords from major retailers like Target and Home Depot, the recent Sony Pictures hack, and the normal parade of Trojan horses, worms and viruses, but it’s one that Steckler stands behind.
Watch the interview here (04:00),
Mr. Steckler has good reason for his conclusion. Here’s a few of the main points he made during the interview.
Social engineering preys on human weakness
“A lot of attacks are still using social engineering techniques; phishing emails – ways of convincing the user to give up valuable information,” said Steckler.
An example of phishing emails just occurred after Black Friday, when cybercrooks sent millions of fake purchase confirmation emails to customers of major retailers. You can read about that, as well as what to do if you are a victim, in our blog, Fake confirmation emails from Walmart, Home Depot, others in circulation.
The Mac misconception
Mac users are well-known for proudly touting that they don’t use antivirus protection because they never have a problem with viruses. But, it’s really a numbers game.
“There is no fundamental difference,” Steckler says of the security of PCs and Macs. “Mac is not inherently any safer, as a technology, than Windows is. What makes a difference there is what is more opportune for a bad guy to attack.”
He explains that malware written for Windows can attack up to 93% of the world’s PCs. Mac malware only reaches 7-8% of the world’s PCs. The safety then lies in the lower numbers of Mac devices rather than a technical safety advantage.
Households networks are as complicated as small business networks
With the interconnectivity of household devices from household computers, mobile phones, TVs and even refrigerators, Steckler compares the typical household network to that of a small business.
“The central weakness in this ‘Internet of Things’ will be that home router – the thing that connects everything together,” says Steckler, “and basically doesn’t have any security on it.”
Avast 2015 seeks to address this lack in security by including the new Home Network Security scanner.
The path from the creation of malicious program to its delivery onto victims’ computers is long nowadays and involves many different players with the same goal – to make a financial gain. Malware authors usually offer their software to cyber criminals who in turn distribute it via underground forums. This is the how they keep their anonymous status. We have previously seen many famous malicious programs start this way.
In the past, the Russian banking Trojan Carberp was heavily advertised on shady forums. In the beginning of the year, an attempt to sell a new ransomware called Prison Locker was reported. Last year, we blogged about Trojan Solarbot which choose to promote itself through a well- designed website, appearing very official.
However, we don’t always know all the details about every piece of malware, from the code to how it is being distributed. The Trojan dubbed i2Ninja, for example, made headlines last year, but we never received a real sample containing all the functionalities the media reported on. Or do you remember the Hand of Thief Trojan for Linux desktops? Its variant for the Android platform was also advertised, but again, we never encountered it in our Virus Lab. These advertisements could have lacked the real code behind them or may have gone under in the pile of cyberthreats.
In March 2013 a new banking Trojan dubbed Minerva was introduced on a Russian forum. We will see that it is awfully successful in what it promised to do. Read more…
Yes, GrimeFighter will speed your old laptop up, and more than that. We are quite proud of avast! GrimeFighter and see it as a complement to the services provided by avast! Antivirus, so I’m glad you asked this question. Read what one of our customers told us after using GrimeFighter on her old laptop.
Here’s a summary followed by a short video on how to get GrimeFighter for your PC.
Why do I need GrimeFighter?
New PCs come pre-loaded with what we call Grime - all kinds of clutter and trialware. Over time your PC gets bloated with more Grime; viruses, spyware, pop-ups, and toolbars, making it sluggish and difficult to use. GrimeFighter comes to the rescue as an easy-to-use, and dare I say, even fun, fully-automated optimization tool designed so that even a novice can tune up his computer.
Don’t get put off by the word “optimization.” This isn’t those scammy products advertised on late-night television – AVAST wouldn’t be a part of such things. GrimeFighter is a product that we stand behind and believe will help our users extend the life of their machines. (Windows XP users, we’re talking to you!)
In recent weeks, malware samples resolved as Win32/64:Napolar from AVAST’s name pools generated a lot of hits within our file and network shields. Independently, we observed an advertising campaign of a new Trojan dubbed Solarbot that started around May 2013. This campaign did not run through shady hacking forums as we are used to, but instead it ran through a website indexed in the main search engines. The website is called http://solarbot.net and presents its offer with a professional looking design:
For the Win32/64:Napolar Trojan, the pipe used to inter-process communication is named \\.\pipe\napSolar. Together with the presence of character strings like “CHROME.DLL,” “OPERA.DLL,” “trusteer,” “data_inject,” and features we’ll mention later, we have almost no doubts that the Trojan and Solarbot coincide. Let us look at some analysis.
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…