Your holidays start on the Internet: tips for booking vacations online

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Everything is possible online nowadays: reading newspapers, ordering books and clothes, flirting, checking out recipes – and of course booking vacations online. Hotel comparison sites are immensely popular, every airlines offer online booking services, and instead of combing through endless travel-agency brochures, you now simply visit Expedia, Opodo or Travelocity. While it’s all very easy and convenient, it isn’t without its risks. Whether it’s a dodgy low-cost website which goes bust before your vacation starts or a seemingly harmless invoice attached to an email which is infected with a virus – at Avira we find that a little caution goes a long way.

Many problems with online booking stem from legal issues. In some instances, the difference between provider, organizer or contracting party is not clear to the customer. In case of questions and complaints, it is important to know whom to contact. Whether you can even make any claims and how easy that is differs immensely depending on the location of the company you signed the contract with. On top of that, costs often aren’t as transparent as they could and should be, with hidden additional transfer costs or trip-cancellation insurance suddenly selected on the final page before the last confirmation click without it ever being mentioned beforehand.

Low-cost portal or not, no operator offers its services for free. The cheaper the offer, the greater the risk that the small print conceals hidden costs. Free hotel room? Perhaps a minimum stay is involved, or you need to pay service and agency costs. Extremely cheap flight and accommodation? There may be compulsory shopping trips planned involving visits to carpet makers, jewelers, and leather factories.

Internet transactions always involve risks – even if they have become safer over the years. You should always transfer money over an encrypted connection. For that, the online travel agent has to offer a SSL-secured Web session. Operators usually make a specific point of mentioning this at the virtual checkout, but you can also tell the session is encrypted by the little padlock icon or the different color of the Web browser’s address bar. This type of encryption is extremely secure and cannot be cracked without a reasonable amount of effort – effectively meaning no risk is involved.

However, other risks are beyond the user’s control. Hackers often manage to crack the websites of legitimate online travel operators. In 2005 the Japanese tour operator Club Tourism had to admit that hackers had stolen the information of over 90,000 customers. In 2009 a website in the USA which government officials use to book travel was compromised. And only in April 2013 Traveltainment, a subsidiary of the Amadeus Group, had to concede that hackers had broken into its servers and stolen the personal details, including payment information, of an unknown number of customers. This theft caused harm when customers opened their emails containing phishing software which the thieves were able to send as they knew the customers’ email addresses and booking details. A comprehensive security software solution like Avira Antivirus Pro offers protection against such attacks and should therefore be a staple on every computer.

Source : blog.avira.com

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Support Scam: Your browser has been locked for support (that you just don’t want)

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With viewers’ browsers as a target, online scareware/scam pop-ups keep spiking in early August. The typical message for the latest wave of scareware promises users that the website has updated browser support and that these users need some special help to get back online. Along with this message, the scam often maximizes the browser and makes it impossible for the user to close it or click anywhere else.

We call it a support scam. The notices claim to have a malware infection or similar and try to scare the user with this news. These pages are absolutely annoying for the customer. While some may not be directly harmful, others redirect users to adware applications. — Oscar Anduiza, malware analyst at Avira.

The newest wave of support scam has the Avira Protection Services racking up over a hundred thousand new detections daily in early August. 

Crossing the grey line

While support scam can appear out of nowhere if you surf to “normal” sites it most often happens in the grey zone where users are streaming online content that may or may not be completely legal.

We see this more commonly in the grey/dark zone. Especially with the illegal movie and TV streams that are streaming copyrighted content like Game of Thrones, and on some porn sites.  — Oscar Anduiza, malware analyst at Avira.

Most of them are related to some kind of advertisement redirection or pop-up.

Keeping that browser clean 

Even if not visiting illicit streaming sites, there is a chance that a service scam will be encountered. However, staying secure is not too complicated.

  • Have an Antivirus installed and up-to-date. This will help ID and stop any additional malware from being bundled with the service scam.
  • Listen to your Antivirus. If the Antivirus signals that something is not quite right – even if it messes up that streaming experience – listen to it.
  • Stay updated. Think of it as a vaccination. The more up-to-date your device is, the less apt you are to catch something nasty.

Source : blog.avira.com

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BKA: Database with 500 million login credentials found – Are you there?

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A stash of 500 million login credentials, including email addresses and passwords, has been found says the German BKA (BundesKriminalAmt – Federal Criminal Police Office) on its website. The database was found on an “underground economy platform”. Yes, 500 million is a huge finding!

More details provided by the BKA? Unfortunately not really…

Unfortunately, the press statement (in German only) doesn’t say where the data comes from and therefore it’s not possible to give more precise details about this finding. Perhaps the BKA found the same database 1.5 months after Bob Diachenko’s finding. His find included data from LinkedIn, Dropbox, Lastfm, MySpace, Adobe, Tumblr, Badoo, and much more.

To check if your login credentials are included, the BKA recommends that you visit the website of the Hasso-Plattner-Institute and use their Identity Leak Checker tool. After you’ve entered your email address, you’ll receive an email including the result. If you really want to be sure your login credentials are not compromised you should also check them against haveibeenpwned.com.

How to protect yourself in the best possible way

Even if you don’t find yourself in these data sets, the sheer amount of stolen credentials alone should make you think about your account security. The following tips should help you to protect your accounts even more:

  • Passwords such as 1234 are a no go. You also shouldn’t use any other password from our list of the worst passwords of them all.
  • You should change your passwords on a regular basis – yes, even the passwords of your email accounts.
  • A password manager simplifies your life and you just have to remember one password: The master password.
  • Whenever possible, you should activate the 2-factor authentification of your accounts. It might be less convenient but it’s way more secure.
    • An antivirus also ensures that trojans, keylogger, and similar malware don’t have a chance on your devices!
    • It’s essential that programs and software are up-to-date! Security gaps in applications are one of the biggest security risks for your devices. If you don’t have the time or if you’re not in the mood to take care of this, then use a Software Updater.

    Sounds like work? It is! But with the previously mentioned tools, you will be able to reduce your efforts to a big possible extent — and we also offer an all-in-one package: The Avira Free Security Suite includes all related to your protection, privacy, and performance. If you’d like to enjoy some more services we’re also offering Avira Prime.

Source : blog.avira.com

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A short time ago, in a Galaxy, Mac, and Windows device not far, far away

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There is an upheaval in the Force and Luke File walker is on the move. A malicious horde from the Dark Side has invaded, subverting minds, stealing data, and emptying bank accounts. To counter this threat, Luke is going through millions of devices, scouring them for suspect code and cleaning up the damage left behind. He is guided on this critical journey by the whispering of the Force, the power of artificial intelligence, and a small support crew at a remote outpost.

Luke Filewalker is alive and active…

…and we don’t even need that missing  map piece of the right star system to find him. He has been located on one relatively insignificant planet rotating about a star in the Orion arm of the Milky Way galaxy which is itself in the Local Galaxy group within the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies.

Got that? It’s the third rock from the sun – not the red one.

Luke Filewalker is the auto scan and repair component within Avira Antivirus. Every week, Earth week that is, Luke automatically checks the millions of computers where Antivirus has been installed and looks for signs of the Dark Side. If he finds anything suspicious, he can root it out himself or call in reinforcements. And if Antivirus detects unusual signs of Dark Side activity with its real-time protection elements, Luke will jump into action as needed.

His origins within Avira Antivirus have been lost in the murky beginnings of the Computer Era. “‘Luke Filewalker’ is definitely more than 20 years old and was already in use on a lot of different operating systems,” said Sven Carlsen, team leader of disinfection services at the Avira Protection Services.

A short time ago, in a Galaxy, Mac, and Windows device not far, far away …

In each covered device, Luke Filewalker is there to do a quick, full, or other custom scan. The quick scan looks into the most important and essential system locations. It also checks the usual infection paths used by malware. The full scan goes over the complete system. And the other is for customized scan profiles on the device such as scanning “My Documents” or a scan of removable devices. The decision to run each type of scan is primarily automated within Avira Antivirus (when certain requirements are met) without requiring user involvement – unless the user wants to start a special scan.

Once the scan is finished and it detects a malware or unwanted application, the repair will start working. The repair will look for all the leftovers from the malware in order to fix and clean up the mess left by the malicious file.

Luke’s discoveries have varied over time as the forces of the Dark Side have shifted from relatively primitive Trojans into botnets enslaving millions. “He discovers all the threats that we tell him about through our AV engine and AI analysis. Currently, his most common discovery is ransomware,” pointed out Sven.

Luke listens to the Force for directions on discerning the identity and intent of suspect code. Otherwise known as the Local Decider, this Antivirus component decides if suspicious files need to be uploaded to the Avira Cloud – not the Oort one — for additional analysis. After AI discerns whether the file is, in fact, malicious or harmless, the message is sent back to the individual device and Luke steps into action as needed. This information about a potential new threat is then relayed to other Avira Antivirus users.

He is visible as Luke Filewalker only for the Windows version of Avira Antivirus. The scanning services in Mac and Android Avira Antivirus remain incognito. But even if you don’t see him – the Force is still with you – and your device.

 Source : blog.avira.com

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Worldwide botnet Avalanche smashed

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According to Europol, victims of malware infections were identified in over 180 countries. The monetary losses associated with malware attacks conducted through the Avalanche botnet are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros worldwide. Computer users can check their devices with the Avira PC Cleanerto see whether their device was infected and part of the botnet. The free tool scans the computer and removes the malicious software. Users who already use Avira anti-virus software are protected against the botnet.

Within the Avalanche botnet, a total of 20 different botnets have been identified. The targeted activity of the international criminal gang was distributing spam and phishing e-mails, as well as spreading ransomware and banking Trojans for tapping account and transaction data as well as stealing passwords.

To play safe: what PC users should do now

Check and clean the PC

If you do not have an anti-virus software installed, you should check your computer for a possible infection using, for example, the free Avira PC Cleaner. If the computer is infected, Avira PC Cleaner will remove the Avalanche botnet code. Avira PC Cleaner also detects if other malicious software is on the computer and will also remove it as well.

If you already have an anti-virus software installed and want to be safe, you can also use Avira PC Cleaner as a “second opinion” to check your system.

Change passwords

After cleaning your PC, change all passwords for online banking/shopping, payment services, e-mail, social networks, and other applications.

Check the Windows security settings

Open the maintenance center via Start -> Run -> wscui.cpl and check that the network firewall, antivirus, spyware protection, and Internet security are all fully active.

Install antivirus software

To protect against future cyber attacks, we recommend installing an antivirus software. With the free Avira Free Security Suite, your PC is reliably protected against botnets and a wide assortment of malicious software. In addition, you can optimize PC performance and securely surf through a VPN client in public Wi-Fis.

 Source : blog.avira.com

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Christmas 2017: how to protect your online purchases

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By now, making purchases on e-commerce sites has become a habit for Americans, but without the proper precautions, there are still many risks. Christmas shopping is now in full swing. And for us Americans, our favorite store is the internet. At this point, it’s pretty much a habit to go to the actual store, check out the items you’re interested in, and then quickly search sites like Amazon to find out if there’s a better deal online.

It’s an already known fact that nowadays people are using smartphones to browse the Internet more than they use their other devices. They even do their Christmas shopping from their phones. According to a Statista Study from 2017, 62% of Americans are choosing this method because they can find the best deals and save money. At the same time, 48% of the respondents claim that the main reason for purchasing Christmas gifts directly from their smartphones is because this way, their data is secured and protected.

There’s a secure future for the sale of many categories of commodities on the internet, also thanks to concepts such as multi-channel and omnichannel, which provide a constant synergy between the business strategies of a brand both offline and online. An example? Being able to purchase a discounted printer online and pick it up in store, where there may be an offer on ink cartridges or reams of paper.

There are many choices, many possibilities, but still many risks if an adequate level of attention is not paid when making online purchases. In what sense? Hackers and cybercriminals are always lurking: they try to trick internet users into entering secret passwords in order to steal sensitive information and, when possible, gain direct access to personal accounts at credit institutions. It’s true that today, transferring money from one account to another is not that simple, thanks to solutions such as two-factor authentication; but platforms exist which, for various reasons, are intrinsically considered secure when they’re actually not. So what can we do? Here are five rules to follow in order to protect yourself when searching for gifts on the internet!

Check the security of a website

There are two ways to quickly find out if a website has a solid foundation or not. First is the presence of the suffix https. The second: that little lock before the web address, which means that the site supports SSL encryption, which comes into play when you enter codes and sensitive data; these then become encrypted and illegible to prying eyes.

Provide the least amount of information possible

Your first name, last name, and shipping address are okay, but when it comes to entering your payment details, it’s better to be cautious. The SSL rule applies, but that’s not all: there’s no reason to enter the three numbers on the back of the card if you’re not on the credit institution’s website (where an SSL is also obligatory), and it’s also best not to connect an account, especially for a temporary purchase, to social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter, which could very well be hacked by cybercriminals and used for blackmail and tampering.

Pay with prepaid cards or secure systems

Going back to payment options, a good idea is to use prepaid cards loaded with an amount slightly greater than what you have to pay online. In this way, you ensure that there’s not a hefty sum available if there’s a breach online or at an ATM, carried out through techniques known as skimming. There are also methods, such as PayPal, that are capable of protecting your purchase even after completing it, by “freezing” the amount until you receive the purchased item at home. At that point, either everything is unblocked or a justified claim is made.

Be wary of phishing!

Those hackers again… During the Christmas season, there is a steep increase in the number of fake e-mail messages received, which are created specifically to attract malicious clicks. This practice, known as mail phishing, tries to trick internet users with promotional messages and phantasmagorical discounts on the hottest items. The body of the e-mail contains web addresses that, once visited, can directly infect the computer or ask for usernames and passwords to the most popular platforms. This doesn’t entail a direct loss of money, but it does involve more serious consequences in the long term, such as private messages being read and extortion activities being carried out after your computer is blocked through malware and viruses, otherwise frightfully known as cryptolocker.

Use protection software

All of these problems can be resolved with a high-quality protection software. The latest-generation antivirus programs can perform a real-time analysis of compromised websites (those lacking certificates) and e-mail messages from senders whose domains are considered fake or suspicious. You should still continue paying careful attention, but this type of technology can lend a huge helping hand. Avira Antivirus, for example, is a great companion that is capable of intercepting malicious traffic and blocking it from the outset, thus preventing you from making an unpleasant Christmas blunder.

Source : blog.avira.com

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