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.

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Avira Tech Support : Blog

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

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.

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Avira Tech Support : Blog

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.

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Avira Tech Support : Blog

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.

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Avira Tech Support : Blog