How to safely access the Internet while on vacation

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Posting your latest vacation photos to Facebook whenever you want is easy to do now even while abroad, especially as the EU has now capped roaming costs in Europe. Maximum price caps for data roaming have been introduced at 23 euro cents per Megabyte, with an automatic cost-brake kicking in to cut off the mobile Internet connection once the limit of 59.90 euros per month has been reached. That said, roaming charges further afield can be much higher, with costs varying depending on the cellular network provider even in a few European countries like Switzerland. You really need to know the terms of your cell phone contract, even if you only want to connect to the Internet occasionally to, for example, retrieve the weather forecast. Most installed apps communicate constantly with the Internet in the background; they also collect data, send location information, and attempt to download and install their latest versions. What’s more, it’s tedious and sometimes completely impossible to deactivate these resource-hungry apps.

Protect your wallet
The best thing to do is to contact your network provider before going on vacation, as contracts are not always clear and transparent – especially those notorious bundle deals which combine SMS, talk-time, and data allowances. If you use up your allowance for data and you’re still in credit in terms of your SMS and talk-time allowances, the bundle offer remains valid, but data is charged at a much higher standard price. In such cases, it makes more sense to buy a temporary international roaming bundle. Many providers offer these and they often include cheap-rate talk-time and SMS allowances. You can now also do this while abroad. They will send you information on the current tariff conditions when you first register with the foreign network and provide you with updated conditions afterwards.

Monitor your usage
Knowledge is power, and that also applies to the costs you accumulate. Many providers offer an app which lets you see how much you’ll be charged for the talk-time you’ve used. This lets you pull the emergency brake and deactivate the mobile data connection if it gets too expensive. Another option is to use your precious data resources more economically. Opera and Chrome browsers let you compress websites before you download them, resulting in data savings of 80 to 90%. However, this method has one disadvantage: since Opera and Google servers compress the data, they can tell which websites you’ve been visiting.

Pros and cons of WiFi hotspots
Privacy and data security are important vacation topics anyway. WiFi hotspots are often used to connect cheaply to the Internet. One global company offering access is Fon, which says it has over 13 million hotspots worldwide at around 3 US dollars per day to use. This would pave the way for unrestricted surfing, were it not for one or two digital threats lurking around every corner. WiFi hotspots are notorious for their lax security. Anyone can see the wireless signals, with communication often continuing over an unsecured connection once the user has logged in. The user has no influence on this as the hotspot provider defines how the connection is secured. What’s more, anyone who has access to the hotspot provider’s Wi-Fi network and is near the hotspot can see the data.

Best approach for now
The easiest way to avoid such risks is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This encrypted tunnel protects information right from the start to the end of its transfer. To use it, you need to have software installed on your mobile phone, tablet or notebook and a node which creates the tunnel only after you have logged in correctly. Companies like OpenVPN and Hotspot Shield offer free or reasonably priced VPN connections. These types of connection are merely a restricted type of VPN where the connection between the device and the server is secured by the provider; after that, data packets escape into the Internet unencrypted. Despite this, at least third parties in the direct vicinity of the hotspot cannot eavesdrop on the network connection. That said, the question remains as to whether the VPN provider handles the information with due care; after all, it can read all the data as plain, unencrypted text.

Public PCs at hotel or Internet cafes can be extremely dangerous to use while on vacation. The computers are often infected with viruses and Trojans that log key strokes (with spyware known as ‘keyloggers’) to intercept your private data. If you absolutely need to transfer sensitive information using such a device, you should take a secure operating system environment with you on a DVD or write-protected USB stick and use this to boot the computer.

The best thing to do is to send as little personal information as possible over an unsecured connection while on vacation. In addition, you should enable the firewall on your device and install the latest version of a security software solution such as Avira Antivirus Pro, Avira Internet Security Suite or Avira Free Antivirus (also available for iOS & Android).

Source : blog.avira.com

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Avira System Speedup: Welcome to the beta!

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As of now it improved the speed and performance of millions of devices all around the world. But performance and speed are not everything, as a lot of you may know. Just recently a user wrote the following in the comment section of our blog: “It’s too bad AV-Comparatives does not rate stability, or how much of a typical user’s time will be wasted with ridiculous bugs or idiotic UI design flaws. If they did, lots of the competitors that were anywhere near Avira would shrink into the background. [….]

And, to be honest, we tend to agree with the above user comment. A clear and user-friendly design is almost as important as the functionality of a program. That’s why we take it just as serious and decided to redesign the Avira System Speedup user interface – based on your, our customers, feedback.

The implemented design improvements will make it more intuitive and easier than ever for you to perform a scan and clean your device, to assess your computer and improve the Disk, Performance and Privacy scores. Also, improving the startup time of your PC is now easy as pie, thanks to the Boot-Time Optimizer.

Speedup 2.0 - Boot Optimizer EN

But enough talk, it’s time to get your hands dirty! All of those changes need to be tested thoroughly and who would be better suited to do so than you, our users?

Helping us test our Avira System Speedup is real easy. Just visit our beta center, register your account (or log in if you already have one) and you are ready to go. The best thing about it though is that you can actively participate in the development of Avira System Speedup:  We plan on releasing new updates weekly, based on the feedback of our beta testers.

 Source : blog.avira.com

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To get infected, follow the directions – Avira Support

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The directions come as a zipped text file along with the Trojan downloader with the malware hiding on the recipient’s computer behind the standard icon for an Excel file. If the downloader does not automatically open or is stopped by the recipient’s antivirus software, the directions in the readme.txt give detailed directions how to execute that malware.

Here is a summary:

  • Just click to agree to everything: Double click on the extracted file. And from there, just click on “Agree” and then “Run”. For PCs with Windows 8 or the newer 10, click on “More Information” -> “Download anyway” at the standard SmartScreen warning.
  • Disable or turn off your antivirus or firewall: AVs and firewalls can block all files downloaded from the internet. If there are problems, add this file to the exceptions list and try again. Or, temporarily turn off the AV or firewall until the file has been downloaded.

“They really want to be sure that the user ‘properly’ gets infected,” pointed out Oscar Anduiza, malware analyst at Avira. “These directions are pretty much exactly 180 degrees off from what computer users should actually do.”

inside_zip

The readme.txt file is in standard, but slightly irregular German, but does not appear to be a machine translation. This indicates that the text has been written for the German mass-market but is probably also being distributed in other languages such as English.

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“This gives the cybercriminals a second chance at a successful installation, especially after the AV has blocked the initial attempt. This is an interesting social engineering trick, especially as the downloader and malware are not especially sophisticated,” added Anduiza.

ComodoIf users click, they begin an “installation process” that starts with a popup of suspicious root certificate. This official-looking certificate — apparently issued by COMODO — gives the issuers unlimited permission to make changes on the system, move freely past the firewall and circumvent the already installed AV.

The malware will download a malicious file that is copied to three places in the computer.  One of them is copied into the Startup folder, insuring that the malware will be executed every time the computer starts Windows.

c:\ProgramData\VCFKARJR.com
c:\Users\All Users\VCFKARJR.com
c:\Users\%user%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\system.pif

As of March 3, the installed malware was a banking Trojan that steals credentials and financial information. However, the precise link or new variants can be added by the cybercriminals at short notice. The current banking Trojans are covered by Avira detections.

Source : blog.avira.com

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Avira wins Virus Bulletin best AV detection award

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This represents a streak for Avira wins for best AV detection rates and superior product quality. This latest Virus Bulletin VB100 testing took place from October 2013 to April 2014.

Free, yet fast and reliable

The Avira Free Antivirus was complimented for being fast and user friendly as the Virus Bulletin lab experts concluded “it installs fairly rapidly, and presents a slick and attractive interface which is simple to operate and provides a fairly complete set of controls.”

Recent improvements to the core product were credited with quick scanning speeds, with very light computing overhead. Just like in the previous rounds of testing, “detection was as excellent as ever, and this solid coverage extended to the certification sets.”

All of these features helped our free antivirus maintain an excellent record of passes with 0 fails registered by the Virus Bulletin testing.

Keeping it professional

The strong performance of Avira AV was confirmed by the lab’s review of our Professional Security Antivirus as well: “the interface has the same professional feel and sensible layout, and the installation process is also very speedy and simple.” Just like for our free solution, our detection got a perfect score of 100. The testers also complimented the new fine-tuning options that contributed to good scanning speeds, very little lag time and low resource consumption.

An impeccable track record

Our whole team is super excited about continuing the streak of awards for superior protection and product quality. “It is the fifth consecutive VB100 Award we achieved in the last 12 months and shows that we have sustainable high detection rate with zero false positives in the Virus Bulletin tests” said Philipp Wolf, our Executive Vice President Protection Labs.

We’re proud of these results and are honored to have been recognized with this award.

Find out more about VB100 (virus) test procedures and you can read the full Windows 7 report available in the latest edition of Virus Bulletin.

Source : blog.avira.com

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Mobile threat landscape — is Android really safe?

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Emerging mobile threat landscape

We are already seeing the effect. For example, the number of mobile viruses tripled over the past year to now measure 2.6 million by our latest count.

They are facing PUA (potentially unwanted applications) for example. There are also apps that collect a heavy-handed amount of personal data, or others that spam users with unwanted messages and notifications. This is what we call the ‘grey area’ of mobile software. Android users are particularly affected.

Security industry is evolving

Even so, one of the current industry debates calls into question the need for providing mobile security software, such as Android Antivirus, based on the supposedly high level of security in app stores.

At Avira, using complex generic detection algorithms, we have been able to identify a daily average of a few thousand apps containing adware on Android, not to mention several hundred malicious apps that we classify as either PUA or malware.

We recently took for example a sample of 30,000 apps which we define as malicious, PUA, SPR or aggressive adware. Of these apps 13,011 were found on Google play, where 233 were malware and the rest falling into the other threat categories.

Our mission at Avira is to protect users against all threat vectors, whether PC, tablet or smartphone. Given most people now take their devices to work, we also no longer believe the problem fits neatly into a consumer vs. business box. It affects everyone.

The battle against security threats in mobile ecosystems like Android is only beginning. It promises to be larger and more sophisticated than the PC one ever was.

Source : blog.avira.com

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We are growing – both in business results and teams

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As our business grows along with our core mission to protect our hundreds of millions of users across their entire digital lives (e.g., Avira Browser Safety, Avira for Android), we are expanding several teams.

These teams are located in our two German offices, Tettnang HQ and our newest location in Munich, as well as in Bucharest. Our Bucharest subsidiary and R&D centre just this year also celebrated its 10th anniversary.

We are scouting for talented people who can master state-of-the-art technologies like Hadoop, Android or Couchbase. Our recruiting process has gained an extra degree of internationality recently as we begin to draw engineering and business talent from outside of traditional engineering recruiting hubs of Silicon Valley and Europe.

Naturally we are striving to find the best match for each of our openings. For example, our desired Hadoop Engineer should be a database engineer who will be in charge with scaling our mission-critical infrastructure and real-time services that power our consumer applications. Or say we wish to hire a JavaScript expert who will develop exciting new applications of high quality standards, and will ship end-user-facing applications to hundreds of millions of users.

Another position is the Product Manager that will be responsible for launching some of Avira’s most strategic products from vision to feature-section and road-map to a successful start in the market place.

We are also looking for an experienced Machine Learning Engineer who will help us build solutions that enhance the richness and quality of our product utilising machine learning algorithms and other  big data analytics techniques.

Besides growing the company’s current staff, we have the opportunity to build from scratch two new teams. We are building a Mobile Development Team with focus on Android and technologies like Java. Here, we are looking for a dedicated Mobile Development Manager and passionate Mobile Developers that will be responsible for delivering Avira’s Mobile Security Solutions.

At the same time, we are developing a multi-lingual Customer Service Team in order to offer 24×7 support to our global user-community. We want to find technology enthusiasts with knowledge of the following languages: Dutch, Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese. Also, we are looking for a Call Center Operations Manager and a Call Center Business Performance Analyst.

All our openings are detailed on the Avira Career page. Please feel free to check them and spread the word to your network.

 

Source : blog.avira.com

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Bitcoin for Beginners: How to Secure your Crypto Wallet

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Cryptocurrencies – as these new virtual online currencies are known – have no transaction fees, no bank fees, no government regulations, and no telltale ways to track them. They are real currency, but stored as encrypted digital keys instead of paper in your wallet.

Unfortunately, the very same characteristics that make cryptocurrencies attractive make them very easy to steal, unless you take extra steps to secure your computers and Internet connections. In this post, we’ll show you how.

Once you have obtained your Bitcoins or other cryptocurrency, there are essentially three ways to store them: 1) in an online wallet; 2) in a software wallet on your PC or mobile device; 3) in a paper wallet that (ironically) you print out. There are a few hardware-based wallets being developed – similar to the tokens you might use to secure PayPal and banking transactions – but they are still new.

Like anything else digital, all of these storage methods can be vulnerable to hackers and malware such as keyloggers. Before cryptocurrencies were invented, only large companies and banks had to worry about sophisticated and targeted attacks on their computer systems – and there have been at least a dozen major hacks on Bitcoin exchanges, results in tens of millions in losses. Now that you can store real money directly on your computer, the Bad Guys have motivation to attack your computer, too.

And because cryptocurrency is not governed by any sort of central bank, a hacked PC, a stolen laptop, or even a hard-drive crash could mean that your digital money is gone. Forever.

So take these minimum precautions to protect yourself:

  1. Secure your PC and mobile devices – To prevent keyloggers, spyware, backdoors and other vulnerabilities that allow hackers in, be sure to install antivirus on every computer and mobile phone that connects to the Internet. Consider also using safe-search and a browser extension, to avoid stumbling onto dodgy websites.
  2. Secure your Internet connection – Make sure the firewall on your network router is active, or activate the VPN (Virtual Private Network) feature in Avira’s security software. And don’t trade cryptocurrencies on a public Wi-Fi hotspot! Or if you use an iPhone, consider using a personal VPN app like Private WiFi.
  3. Back-up your (encrypted) data – Be sure to use a backup service that encrypts your data in-transit as well as at rest. Services such as DropBox can be secured with two-factor authentication.
  4. Protect your passwords (and paper wallets) – Use common sense and don’t let others see your passwords. Paper wallets for cryptocurrencies contain your private key (usually in the form of a QR code that any reader can decode), and if stolen will let the thief use your digital currency just like cash.

Even if you don’t plan to use Bitcoin for your next purchase, you probably have a lot of sensitive information on your computer or smartphone that is worth securing just as if it were cash. So take a few minutes to review your security. You’ll be glad you did.

Source : blog.avira.com

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Avira Answers – a community for Avira’s 100M users

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It all began in 1988, from our bold desire to combat cyber-threats that were targeting computer users all around the world. It was plain back then that this was going to be a continuous effort, where we had to constantly stay one step ahead of the culprits devoted to sabotaging cyberspace. Passion, data and user-centricity were the hallmarks of Avira, which have remained engrained in our corporate culture to this day.

Within years, our passion was rewarded by the trust of hundreds of thousands of users. It was then that we knew our vision should be scaled up, hence our commitment to providing best-in-class security to the world, for FREE. It was a courageous decision business-wise, but we felt very strongly that this should be our path.

The living proof stays in the cutting-edge technologies we have embedded in our security solutions that cover the most popular platforms out there: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and notable browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

What’s our secret? It’s the power to protect 100 million users around the globe, the knowledge to succeed at it, and the passion to love doing it.

Going the extra mile

We always fostered direct communication with our users and kept an open dialogue with them through our Customer Advocacy team. We listened to our customers and found out they were often calling in our support department for problems unrelated to Avira products. These problems ranged from missing software to obsolete applications and misconfigured hardware.

It was late 2012 when we decided to go the extra mile: help our users fix the problems they were confronting with, even if their challenge had nothing to do with malware. We knew the problem – help millions of users fix hundreds of unique problems, daily, in areas where we might not even have an expertise. What we did know is this: there are 100 million users worldwide bound together by the red Avira umbrella, confronted with millions of diverse and largely unique problems. It became clear to us that crowd sourcing could help us improve our customer service levels. If only there was a common place where one could put a question to the community. In September 2013, we proudly launched Avira Answers.

Looking back, our plan was accurate: Avira Answers has been a resounding success and supports thousands of user interactions per month.

Avira Answers is not just another Q&A forum. Sporting a state-of-the-art user experience, it is highly optimized for rapid knowledge transfer. What makes it unique is the knowledgeable community ready to answer diverse questions, varying from complex computer troubleshooting to purchasing advices. No matter the topic, we help you get your questions answered.

So next time you have a question, or just want to make the world a better place by sharing your knowledge, or simply want to hang out with our passionate community, we’re looking forward to welcoming you.

 

Source : blog.avira.com

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Avira Antivirus Pro: Best-in-class protection for your digital life

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Great news everyone: If you were looking for a great Antivirus to protect your digital life you are at the right place.

Independent testing authority AV-Comparatives has awarded our Avira Antivirus Pro its highest “Product of the Year” award. Antivirus Pro won the renowned testing laboratory’s top Advanced+ score in all seven specialized tests conducted throughout 2016, leaving other products trailing. The award proves that Avira Antivirus Pro offers the best-possible protection against online threats such as malicious websites, ransomware, Trojans, spyware, and other types of malware.

Outstanding results in all tests

AV-Comparatives tested 19 Windows-security products, analyzing protection capabilities against malicious software, impact on PC performance, whether the program confuses with ‘false positives’ (blocking apps by mistake), and more. Over the course of 2016, Avira Antivirus Pro achieved top results in every test, also scoring points for ease of installation and user-friendly controls.

In addition to the Product of the Year award, Antivirus Pro took an additional four awards at AV-Comparatives: two Silver Awards for Real-World Protection and Malware Removal, and two Gold Awards for File Detection and Performance.

“We are extremely happy and proud that Avira Antivirus Pro was crowned Product of the Year,” said Alexander Vukcevic, Director Avira Virus Labs. “We are constantly enhancing Antivirus Pro to tackle emerging threats, and to offer our users the best-possible protection. This award from AV-Comparatives demonstrates once again that our approach is working.”

Wait for it – there is more!

But that’s not all: In addition to that our Antivirus Pro was also able to win AV-TESTs Best Repair Award for most effective PC malware removal and repair – again!

“Other brands didn’t come close to matching Avira’s ability to protect against hundreds of malware attacks in a variety of tests throughout the year. Avira Antivirus Pro was not only effective at ridding Windows systems of infections, but was also the best at healing afflicted files, even after any contamination by malware”, said Andreas Marx, CEO of AV-TEST. “Avira Antivirus Pro proved itself dependable in the event of a successful malware attack, assisting users in saving infected files.”

 

Source : blog.avira.com

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Antivirus Pro for Mac wins AV Comparatives’ Approved Security Product award

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Antivirus Pro for Mac has been recognized by AV Comparatives for its malware-stopping ability together with its simple and straightforward operation. We won the Approved Security Product award as part of AV Comparatives’ annual Mac Security and Review. This independent test measures how AV software is able to detect and stop a selection of malware for both the Mac and Windows operating systems. By testing malware detections for both operating systems, AV Comparatives has ensured that a protected Mac will be able to stop the major malware types and not simply pass it on to an unprotected Window device. Antivirus Pro for Mac stopped 99.1% of the malware samples related to MacOS platform and 100% of the current sample-set for the Windows platform.

Antivirus Pro for Mac wins AV Comparatives’ Approved Security Product award

Detection and simplicity get recognized

Antivirus Pro comes with all the necessary detection abilities. The AV Comparative reviewers described it as a “simple, straightforward, and easy-to-use antivirus.” Their favorite Avira component was the help feature that explained the interface controls with an overlay.

Ready for Fruit flies and more

Mac’s reputation as a highly secure platform has taken a dint this year with the uncovering of the Fruitfly malware. Fruitfly variants are capable of stealing screenshots and keylogging user activities. The malware is reported to have operated for several years, although at a limited level.

It’s a question of threats and detection. The past months have demonstrated that Macs are indeed vulnerable to focused malware attacks. And the latest test results show that Avira Antivirus Pro for Mac is fully prepared for detecting any malware that comes down the pipeline. — Alexander Vukcevic, Head of Avira Virus Labs

The 2017 recognition reconfirms Avira long-time reliability after AV-Comparative 2016 annual review was granting the Antivirus Pro for Mac the same award.

 

Source : blog.avira.com

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