The core security components of Avast 2017

Deborah Salmi 10 Feb 2017

We face many cybersecurity challenges ahead, but Avast is ready to confront them head on with our most powerful protection yet.

Technology has become an integral part of our lives – at work, at school, and at home – even on our bodies. Without security, we wouldn’t be nearly as productive or enjoy the benefits it brings to our lives. The range of devices and the numerous attack vectors the bad guys have at their disposal calls for technologically advanced cybersecurity. The days of simple antivirus scans are gone. Modern systems of threat detection include core processes such as structural analysis, behavioral scanning, and cloud-based intelligence.

Behavior Shield uncovers malicious behavior, even if it’s never been seen before

The security features at the core of Avast 2017 are what protects our 400 million users against viruses and internet-based threats.

“The one feature that I think will make the most difference in Avast 2017 is a new component that we call Behavior Shield,”

said Ondrej Vlcek, executive vice president and general manager of all consumer products at Avast.

Recognizing malware before it attacks your computer is crucial to your protection. Everything on your machine is designed to behave in a certain way, and if something behaves irregularly then Behavior Shield is triggered.

“Behavior Shield provides behavioral analysis of all programs running on the device; of all the processes, all file system access, all registry access, all intra-process communication, etc. It “kernalizes” that with other signals that we receive from endpoints in the Cloud,” said Vlcek. “By doing that, it enables us to uncover malicious behavior even if we don't know anything about the malware family.”

Behavior Shield has proven to be powerful against certain categories of malware such as ransomware. Ransomware is extremely difficult to detect using traditional methods because of the misdirection and encryption that cybercrooks use, but Behavior Shield can detect the common behaviors inherent in all ransomware and block malicious programing even when its deeply entrenched in a PC. All undiscovered threats are reported and added to our threat database.

 Wi-Fi Inspector identifies vulnerable devices in your home

Inside today’s average home, there are multiple devices from IoT devices to Playstations, each with a different operating system. It is a complex task to build a security product that people without technical expertise can use across such a wide variety of devices.

“One thing to realize is that the threats targeting the various devices are quite different (from typical PC threats). For example, on Windows the traditional way of attacking was a virus or a piece of malware. That's not necessarily the case on, for example, the iPhone or IoT devices,” said Vlcek.  

The reason the iPhone is relatively secure is that it's in a fairly closed ecosystem, a “walled garden” of sorts which is difficult to penetrate in terms of malware or viruses.  However, it does not mean that these devices are immune to cyberattacks. 

“What's happening typically is that there is some kind of security attack happening on the network level so when the bad guys are trying to attack mobile devices in general, they usually use means of hijacking the network, either through Wi-Fi misdirection or 3G Towers,” said Vlcek. "Cybercrooks employ all sorts of social engineering attacks; for example, phishing is at an all-time high these days."

Internet of Things devices are the opposite. Many were designed without security in mind at all, and being on an unsecure home network gives cybercrooks an easy in. With the increase in all these devices, the bad guys have a much wider spectrum of attack vectors at their disposal.

“It's become quite challenging for security vendors like ourselves to provide a holistic view of the entire network," said Vlcek. “That said, we do have a specific feature in Avast 2017 that protects against attacks on Internet of things type devices.“

"The new Wi-Fi inspector is a feature that scans all the devices on a network and can pinpoint the security vulnerabilities of these devices and guide users through remediation steps." 

We understand that this can seem like a daunting task for lots of people. There is a real fear of this type of thing, and it is our goal to make it as easy as possible and non-threatening. 

“That is the whole challenge with consumer security,” said Vlcek. “The fact is that some of these things are inherently difficult and sophisticated, like remediation on the IoT devices or the router devices; that the user has to install new firmware on the router, etc. This is not something that the average user would be able to do.”   

“But we've got two things: One is that we know that in most families there is a family CTO or family geek, usually the youngest generation, that is able to help. And the second is that we have a professional services branch that is able, for a small fee, to help the customer by telephone support or chat support - to guide the user or even do it for the user automatically.”

Avast 2017 is available now. Current users can upgrade with one click, and new users can download our award-winning Avast Free Antivirus or any of our premium products.

For more information about the technology and features of Avast 2017, please listen to the podcast interview with Ondrej Vlcek from Enterprise Times.

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