Security tips to stay safe on Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and many users, especially men, will be tempted to do some quick shopping or profile checking.

Fotolia (#57067202 - Heart defenses© Andrea Danti)

Here are a few tips to stay safe when you are in a hurry to shop, chat or research:

1. If a price is too good to be true, most of the time, it is not true

Cybercriminals are using social engineering in order to attract people with very good offers for many products. The offer is very diversified because most of the products don’t exist in most cases. The fraudsters just take the money and disappear. If you want to have a good price, get a Savings Advisor tool which also guarantees that the sellers are reliable.

2. Buy only from known shops

You don’t have time (and money) to waste and most of the time it is better to shop from a known shop than to risk to not receive the product or to receive something else. Now that most social networks have ads, it is even harder to filter what is reliable and what not. If you are not finding the right product in the known shops, consider some search, but in this case make sure you use a web filter. Avira has Web Protection integrated in all paid products which protects you from phishing and malware URLs.

3. Don’t fall for fake profiles

If you are just looking to meet someone you don’t know, don’t fall for profiles which post pictures with sexy (or naked) women or men. They are just fake accounts which either distribute malware or just redirect you to special portals which require a registration and/or a fee to join.

4. When researching about somebody, make sure you are looking at the right person

Let’s say that you just met someone and want to know more about her/him. Of course, the best place to start is Facebook or her/his favorite social network. Be sure that you are looking at the right person. If you don’t and engage a communication with her/him without being sure that you are talking to the right person, you might be reported as a stalker. And if you don’t communicate, you might buy the wrong present. ;)

5. Don’t share too much

Don’t share something which you wouldn’t show your mother. This applies to text, statuses , check-ins and pictures. The Internet never forgets: Everything you share will remain somewhere saved and will popup exactly when you expect less.

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

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Did you know you can opt-out from Google’s targeted ads and tracking?

Google is generating most of its revenue with Advertisements.

On the settings page it says:

Ads enable free web services and content.

This might be true, but sometimes the ads are just annoying.

Here is what you can change in the way Google delivers ads and tracks your behavior on the web.

ads-google
(click to enlarge)

From this page, you can control what Google’s ad displays know about you.

This includes your gender, age, language, interests, as well as any advertiser campaigns you’ve blocked or interest-based ads of which you’ve opted out.

opt-out-ads

To opt out of Google’s interest-based ads, you must first manually remove all of the subjects listed, then click the Opt-Out link that appears. This is pretty annoying because Google generously sets all the values to “enable”.

example-interests-ads

 

To permanently opt out of Google’s DoubleClick cookie, which is Google’s main advertising cookie, you can install its DoubleClick opt-out add-on. Once installed, even if you clear all your cookies and restart your browser, it will prevent the DoubleClick cookie from being saved to your browser.

So, to conclude, it seems that the users have some kind of control. And after seeing this, things can only get better: there is a way to completely get out of the DoubleClick tracking. There is a closing statement from Google on that page:

Google adheres to advertising industry privacy standards. To learn about these standards, including how you can opt out of interest-based advertising from Google and other participating companies, visit our About Google Ads page. If you want to permanently opt out of the DoubleClick cookie, you can install the DoubleClick opt out extension.

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

Thank you for reading this post on Avira TechblogFor latest news please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+.

February 11. is the “Safer Internet Day”

Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.

Safer Internet Day 2014 is celebrated today, 11. February 2014. The strapline for the campaign is “Let’s create a better internet together”.

These days, cybercriminals aren’t only after our computers’ resources and our financial information. They can make a serious profit by hacking into our social media accounts. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly protect our online assets against them.

In order to make your day in the Internet safer, I offer only today the eBook “Improve Your Security” completely  free to download. Note that the book is written in English. Many of the chapters of the book have been translated in German and are available in Avira Techblog in German.

book
The book is split into five chapters:

- Accounts and Passwords

- Online Security

- Device Security

- Protect yourself against advertisements and tracking

and a chapter that provides security tips. The best thing about the last chapter is that the tips are formatted in a way that allows users to easily print them on paper. This can be highly useful, especially for less advanced users who are more accustomed to working with instructions printed on paper.

The even greater news is that this book is continuously updated since the threat landscape also changes constantly. In order to keep the pace with the threats, once registered with the LeanPub website, you get all updates of the books for free.

The next chapters which are going to be released soon are:

- Security Myths

- Guidance for parents and tutors in regard to online safety

 

The book has a dedicated website where I publish articles which later will become part of the book: http://www.improve-your-security.org.  If you subscribe to the RSS Feed, you will be able to benefit of the security tips even before they get moved in the book.

Start reading and improving your security today !

Have a Safer Internet Day!

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

Thank you for reading this post on Avira TechblogFor latest news please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+.

Security warning for all FRITZ!Box users registered with the MyFRITZ! service

avm

AVM, the producer of the well-known home router FRITZ!Box, has issued a security advisory and contacted all users of the cloud service MyFRITZ! to warn them about a potential fraudulent use of telephone services connecting through FRITZ!Box routers.

avm-warning

 

(click to enlarge)

According to AVM, it appears that attackers are connecting to the router on the external interface and somehow get administrative access. Such an attack is only possible if the attacker knows the precise combination of e-mail address or FRITZ!Box username, FRITZ!Box IP address, and the passwords for remote access and the FRITZ!Box interface. All these are available in the MyFRITZ! cloud service. With this information, they are able to add an expensive VoIP provider and set it as default service for telephony. This way, any phone call made through the AVM router would be made through the expensive VoIP provider.

AVM says that it is possible that these attacks are linked to the theft of 16 million digital identities that was recently announced by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

AVM also advises users to change the password of the email address registered in the Push service.

Seeing this advice, I can’t stop thinking that it might be possible that the MyFRITZ! cloud service was hacked and the user data compromised. I guess we will know this after AVM finishes their investigations.

 

Here is how to make sure that you are not a victim and how to prevent to become one:

Checking telephony devices and deleting unknown IP telephones.

Delete any unknown IP telephones to make sure that the cannot be used to make make fraudulent calls:

  1. Click “Telephony” in the FRITZ!Box user interface.
  2. Click “Telephony Devices” in the “Telephony” menu.
  3. 3. You can recognize IP telephones because “LAN/WLAN” will be displayed in the “Connection” or “Port” column for that telephone. Click the corresponding “Delete” button to delete any IP telephones you are not familiar with.

sh1_en

Deleting call diversions to unknown telephone numbers and disabling call through

  1. Click “Telephony” in the FRITZ!Box user interface.
  2. Click “Call Handling” in the “Telephony” menu.
  3. Switch to the “Call Diversion” tab and delete all entries that divert calls to international numbers you are not familiar with.
  4. Switch to the “Call Through” tab and disable the option “Enable call through”.
  5. Click “Apply” to save your settings.

More details are available on the AVM website.

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

Thank you for reading this post on Avira TechblogFor latest news please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+.

Avira Free Android Security wins perfect score from AV-TEST

Avira Free Android Security app earned a perfect score and a “Certified” rating from AV-TEST. Avira Free Android Security scored a perfect 13 out of 13 points in AV-TEST’s January 2014 Android Mobile Security Test, which reviewed 30 different products on their performance, detection rates, protection from malware and overall product usability.

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Avira Free Android Security automatically scans the user’s mobile device for viruses, spyware, Trojans and other malware. Users can also block annoying contacts from calling or texting. Additionally, users can log into my.avira.com to remotely locate their device (via GPS, WiFi or cellular signal) on a map or make it ‘yell’ for attention if it goes missing (even if the ringer is turned off), and can remotely lock or wipe the device if it gets stolen.

This is a good reward for the hard work that is being done in the Avira labs. The multitude of samples increases every week and we see a significant amount of threats. Probably the most dangerous of these threats are the apps in the Security and Privacy Risk category which include the pay-per-SMS registration apps with recurring billing and the apps that send SMS to extra charge numbers.

But, there are other threats as well:

- Adware -> they throw all kind of ads in your browser

- Trojans -> silently steal data and send it to cybercriminals without you noticing anything untill is too late.

I personally recommend this app for any Android device, because you never know what apps are out there. I got used to see ” X scanned apps are safe” in the events .

 

android-app-safe

 

Download Avira Free Android at Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avira.android&hl=en

Get details or download from the dedicated page: http://www.avira.com/en/avira-android-security

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

 

Thank you for reading this post on Avira TechblogFor latest news please follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+.

Avira Free Mac Security – Update 2 released

We released this week the Update 2 of the Avira Free Mac Security for Mac OS X 10.8 and 10.9.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 11.08.53

This update adds a long awaited feature: turn real-time protection ON and OFF.

The functionality is available from the menu bar

tray

 

and the dock bar

 

programs

 

In order to protect your Mac better, it is required to have administrative rights in order to deactivate the real time protection.

Once you do that, the umbrella will be displayed as closed in all places.

tray-closed

prog-closed

 

Of course, we don’t recommend to do this!

On top of this, there have been many bug fixes, speed and usability improvements implemented (“Quick System scan” is faster).

Why don’t you give it a try?

 

 

Sorin Mustaca

Product Manager and IT Security Expert

 

 

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BSI launched a service to check if your online credentials were compromised

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) warns that cybercriminals have compromised around 16 million email addresses of online accounts. BSI launched a service to help users find out if their credentials have been stolen: https://www.sicherheitstest.bsi.de/ (in German)

bsi-check

After you submit, you see in a second window a code which is going to be present in the email that you might receive. If your email address is not present in the list of BSI, you will not receive any email.

bsi-check-after

 

No matter whether you understand German or not, all you need to do is to check the box on the top left corner, add your email in the field and then click on the blue button.
According to BSI, researchers and law enforcement agencies have determined that 16 million usernames (usually email addresses) and passwords have been compromised after analyzing botnets.

We know that many users use the same login information for multiple online services, despite the fact that we continuously warn that this is not a good practice. If you do this, then the first thing is to check if your email has been compromised using the above site. No matter if you get any results back or not, you should change the password for each service according to the advice we wrote here.

Avira is involved in the BSI initiative by providing the free second opinion scanner PC Cleaner.

If you wonder what does this have to do with the email address: the credentials were stolen by malware installed on the PC. This tool does nothing else than scan your computer and search for malware (any kind of malware, not only that responsible for stealing credentials).

 

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

Avira PC Cleaner – a second opinion scanner (Update – English version available)

The PC Cleaner is a scanner which can be used in parallel with other anti-malware products. It is created for users of other security products who think that they might have a malware infection which their security solution doesn’t detect. It works on any PC, note- or netbook with operating system Windows XP SP3 and above. It doesn’t require installation or registration and it doesn’t install any drivers.

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The best experience is if you  first deactivate the installed security product temporarily. This way the files will not be scanned twice. You should reactivate the security product after all is done.

 

Hint

We recommend that you regularly perform a scan with the PC Cleaner, no matter which security solution you have (unless you are already an Avira user).

 

WARNING:

This product does not replace an installed security product.

Since it doesn’t install drivers, services and other technologies which integrate deeply with the operating system, it can’t provide the same amount of protection as an installed security product.

The current version is in German only, there are plans to release an English version soon.

We released both the German as well as the English version.

You can download this product directly from Avira using these direct links:

 

 

If you want to know more, read on.

 

How it works

The product copies its files in a temporary directory and starts by downloading the latest version. This happens only on the first execution, later on, only the differences will be updated (a few kilobytes up to a few megabytes).

It will copy on the desktop two icons:

  • Avira PC Cleaner – to start the product
  • Remove Avira PC Cleaner – to remove the PC Cleaner from the disk.

remove

 

 

Updating to the latest version is a very important step. If there is no Internet Connection, the product will stop.

download

 

Click the button “Scan System”:

start-screen-pc-cleaner

If you click the checkbox, it will perform a full system scan. Be aware, that depending on your system, it might take a while to finish.

Wait for the scan to finish:

scan

 

If it finds no problem, then all is green:

allgood

If the product finds some malware, you will see this:

threat-detected

Clicking on the “View Details” gives you the details of the detected malware:

threat-details

We suggest to just delete them all by clicking “Remove Selected” or “Remove all” in the previous screen .

cleaningup

After the threats were removed, you see a summary:

summary

You can download this product directly from here:

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

 

How to check if you were affected by the malware delivered by Yahoo’s ads in Europe

You might have heard of the incident that shadowed the beginning of the year for Yahoo.

yahoo

If you visited Yahoo during December 6th, 2013 and January 3rd, 2014 then it is best that you read on this article until the end.

An estimated 2.5 million Yahoo users were likely infected with malicious software, after hackers hijacked some of the company’s advertisements, and used them to attack visitors. According to cyber security firm Fox IT, which reported the breach, some advertisements viewed by clients from December 30 through January 2 were infected with malware. CNET explains that users who saw pages with the ads were redirected to sites that install intrusive software onto their computers, even if they didn’t click on the advertisement.

The ads served a multitude of malicious software, at least four different versions, and it is rather complicated to check each of them manually. Last, but definitely not least, we’ve seen reports that also Java vulnerabilities were used to serve malware.

For most users, the most secure way is to scan your computer with your favorite Antivirus. If you notice that your computer reacts strangely or you can’t even install your favorite Antivirus, then I recommend first to run a scan using the Avira Rescue System. More information how to use it are available here. If you still can’t get it work, you can also give Microsoft Safety Scanner a try.

Second step in hardening your computer is to make sure that Java is at the latest version or is uninstalled/deactivated.

Here you can test if you have Java active in your browsers and if it is up to date: http://java.com/en/download/installed.jsp

 

If it is not up to date, please update it immediately. Our recommendation is to disable Java completely, but if you really need it, check this link to see how you can deactivate it in each browser individually.

Fortunately, only users on Windows were affected by the malicious software, users of Mac, Android and iOS were not affected. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect your devices, there are good free security products available for each of them.

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert

Apple released the update v10.9.1 for OS X Mavericks

Apple published an update to their latest OS X, Mavericks v10.9, which is recommended for all OS X users.

Apple Logo

It improves the stability, compatibility, and security and includes:

  • Improved support for Gmail in OS X Mail, and fixes for users with custom Gmail settings
  • Improves the reliability of Smart Mailboxes and search in Mail
  • Fixes an issue that prevented contact groups from working properly in Mail
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from speaking sentences that contain emoji
  • Fixes an issue that prevented iLife and iWork apps from updating on non-English systems
  • Addresses an issue that may cause multiple prompts to unlock “Local items” keychain
  • Addresses an issue that may cause Japanese keyboards to retain a previously used language
  • Includes Safari 7.0.1
    • Fixes an issue that could cause Safari to become unresponsive when filling out forms on fedex.com, stubhub.com, and other websites
    • Improves Credit Card Autofill compatibility with websites
    • Improves VoiceOver compatibility with facebook.com
    • Updates Shared Links periodically when open in the Safari Sidebar

So far, not too much about security. But, there is more.

Apple also released a special KB about the Safari 7.0.1 security issues as well which is described as CVE-2013-5227.

  • Impact: User credentials may be disclosed to an unexpected site via autofill

Description: Safari may have autofilled user names and passwords into a subframe from a different domain than the main frame. This issue was addressed through improved origin tracking.

 

If you are a Safari user, it is recommended to install this update immediately.

The updates can be downloaded and installed using Software Update, or from Apple Downloads.

 

Sorin Mustaca

IT Security Expert