AVAST: exclusive interview for LxA

AVAST logo

AVAST Software is a well-known company in the field of security, since it is responsible for one of the best known antivirus, with a significant market share in terms of this type of product. In addition, it is also known in the open source world for some of its projects and commitments to this way of understanding software. An example of this is the GitHub repository that has ...

The company was established in 1990 and since then many news and developments have taken over. Among its members, is the Spaniard Luis Corrons, which is the one who has been so kind to answer our questionnaire exclusively for all LxA readers. He performs the work of AVAST Security Evangelist, as you know the "evangelists" are very current in the technology sector for the work they do. If you want to know a little more about the corporate opinion of AVAST and Luis, keep reading ...

UNIX license

Linux Addicts: Would you recommend that users of UNIX / Linux systems install an antivirus?

Louis Corrons: We always recommend users to install a security solution on every possible device, and in the case of enterprise Linux servers, they must always be protected. Some systems may appear more secure than others, but there are many cross-platform threats, such as phishing, that can infect users on any system, or trick users into obtaining sensitive information, such as online banking credentials. In the case of Linux, security on shared servers, such as email, SMB, FTP, and HTTP, is important.

LxW: Do you see the security landscape better on systems like GNU / Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, macOS, etc., than in the case of Microsoft Windows?

LC: Other operating systems are not necessarily more protected than PCs, just that there are fewer non-Windows users than Windows users in the world. This makes non-Windows users less desirable as targets, because the target pool is smaller.

LxW: … And in the case of Android and iOS?

LC: IOS users have less risk of being infected via apps they download, they don't download apps outside of the official Apple App Store, and those apps go through extensive security checks. However, social engineering, a popular tactic used by cybercriminals who want to trick people into giving up personal information or downloading malware to infect by posing as something useful or innocent, can affect users on all platforms.

LxW: How do you plan to provide greater security for the IoT?

LC: AVAST offers Wi-Fi Inspector in both free and paid versions, allowing users to perform home network security threat scanners. The function will alert the user if they use a weak or default password, or if one of the devices connected to the home network has vulnerabilities. AVAST gives users tips on how to solve the problem, which may include, for example, settings to strengthen the password, or updates to the firmware of the products.
In the first half of 2019, AVAST will also launch a new IoT security platform, Smart Life, which is based on AI technology to identify and block threats and is delivered through a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model to telecommunications service providers and customers. One of our initial Smart Life based offering is AVAST Smart Home Security, which can provide customers with protection and visibility into what is happening on their home networks. Key features include detection of privacy threats, botnets, malware as well as browser security and prevention of DdoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. The solution is built on our custom AI technology, and it constantly learns behavior and usage patterns. As a result, it enables the identification of hacks via anomalies in traffic with any IoT device.

LxW: Can an antivirus company do anything about privacy? I am not just referring to preventing attacks on a system, but, for example, preventing certain apps from collecting user information, or avoiding what some developers and companies are calling "bidirectional telemetry" ...

LC: Antivirus companies like AVAST may offer tools like AVAST Antitrack, which prevent browser trackers from creating a user profile. Beyond this, AVAST aims to educate users about privacy risks, through our channels or social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, blog, where we regularly publish educational posts, as well as posts about the latest threats.

Shield with bug

LxW: What other remains or challenges have you been facing lately in terms of cybersecurity?

LC: The threats targeting both PC users and mobile devices are manifold, but mainly include cryptojacking, ransomware, spyware, and banking Trojans. On both mobile and PC, most malicious programs are installed by users who are fooled by social engineering tactics. Social engineering is a tactic used to trick people into taking certain actions. Cybercriminals use social engineering to take advantage of human behavior, as it is easier to fool a person than to hack a system, making antivirus, whether free or paid, extremely important. In August, AVAST prevented 34,3 million attacks from infecting PC users in Argentina and 2,2 million from infecting mobile users.

Cryptojacking is when cyber criminals use people's computers to mine cryptocurrencies without permission. Cybercriminals can install software on a victim's computer to mine or use browser-based cryptographic malware, which is implemented in the code of a website through mining scripts. When a user visits a website, the script begins mining cryptocurrencies using the visitor's computing power. Cryptojacking generates high energy bills for the victim, poor device performance, and lost productivity, and has an overall negative impact on the life of the devices. As this runs browser-based, any type of device running a browser can be infected.

Ransomware is malware that restricts access to the device's system or files and demands a ransom for the restriction to be removed. The ransomware restricts access to the entire system or to certain files by encrypting them. The ransom messages sometimes appear to come from an official government agency that accuses victims of committing a cybercrime, scaring many into paying the ransom. The typically demanded ransom is only paid in cryptocurrencies, so the payment cannot be easily traced back to the cybercriminal behind the ransomware.

A dangerous mobile threat that is constantly increasing is banking Trojans. Banking Trojans are applications that attempt to trick the user into giving up their bank account details by pretending to be a legitimate banking application, usually by mimicking the login screen or by providing a generic login screen with the bank's logo. corresponding bank. AVAST recently conducted a survey, asking consumers to compare the authenticity of official and counterfeit banking application interfaces. In Spain, 67% identified real mobile banking interfaces as fake and 27% mistook fake mobile banking interfaces for real objects. These results are alarming and show that consumers can easily fall victim to banking Trojans.

LxW: How can users contribute to reporting or reporting malicious code?

LC: In some cases, just using antivirus can help report malware. For example, today, AVAST protects more than 400 million users online. Free users give us access to huge amounts of security data, which is really key to the success of our artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Our global user base powers our security engine, which is based on AI and machine learning, providing us with unprecedented insights into the lifecycle of cyberattacks, helping us stay ahead and protect. to our users. Additionally, AVAST users can submit files and links to suspicious websites directly to AVAST Thread Labs here: https://www.avast.com/en-us/report-malicious-file.php

LxW: Why have some antivirus been put under suspicion and discarded to be installed in certain government systems? We all know the case of a well-known antivirus firm that has been rejected by Europe. I know it is because antivirus is given full permissions, and that can be a double-edged sword, but I would like to know your opinion ...

LC: (they have not answered)

LxW: Are antivirus for Linux a simple port of antivirus for Windows? That is, is it the same software ported to be able to be run on GNU / Linux systems?

LC: At this time, AVAST does not offer a Linux antivirus solution for home users.

LxW: Does the malware search engine in the case of the Linux version detect viruses for Windows, rootkits, and so-called multiplatform (Flash, Java,…)? Or something else?

LC: Linux security should detect all types of malware, including those designed for Windows, Mac, Linux, and cross-platform.

LxW: Do you think that antivirus will be replaced by other security tools in the near future?

LC: In the future, antivirus for IoT devices will come in a different format. The mass of IoT devices and smart home systems are too large and diverse to create end-point protection for all of them. Imagine that you have to install a security solution on all your smart devices.

The solution to protecting smart homes is to provide network-level protection. The router is the hub of the smart home network, to which all devices connect, and it is where protection should begin. Because the devices and the traffic they send is so diverse, we need artificial intelligence to detect and block threats. IoT devices and their activities and data flows are more predictable than those of PCs or mobiles, so it is highly feasible to train machine learning algorithms to detect threats. Behind any PC, we can expect a human being whose behavior patterns can seem quite random: a user can casually surf the Internet for a while, and then suddenly start connecting to a bunch of sites or sending hundreds of emails. However, if a refrigerator starts sending emails, not to mention hundreds of thousands of them, security solutions can recognize that this is a clear sign that something is wrong. And this makes it relatively easy for security solutions to establish a baseline and detect behavioral anomalies compared to that baseline.

At Avast, we have created a new IoT security platform, Smart Life, which is based on AI technology to identify and block threats and is delivered through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model for telecommunications service providers and customers. . One of our initial offerings based on the Smart Life platform is Avast Smart Home Security, which will provide consumers with protection and visibility into what is happening on their home network. Key features include detection of privacy threats, botnets, and malware, as well as safe browsing and prevention of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The solution is based on our bespoke artificial intelligence technology, constantly learning typical behavior and usage patterns. As a result, it is able to identify hacks through anomalies in traffic with any IoT device as they occur and can act. As a result, for example, if a smart thermostat turns on at an unusual time and transmits data at high volume to an unknown location, we can act instantly to stop the attack and alert the family to the strange activity. And as the IoT space evolved, we gained insights and thus a better ability to protect it. After all, there is a bright future ahead - where IoT devices can really bring us more comfort than trouble.

And with this interview ends our series of interviews with antivirus companies, which will have an article analyzing what we have learned over time about whether or not we should install an antivirus on Linux and what they have told us in these interviews ... With the data that I have been able to get from this interview and that of ESETAlong with some opinions that I have been able to know from Google security engineers or some advice from Chema Alonso himself that I have been able to read, the article that can be published is quite interesting and perhaps unexpected for many. As I always say, not everything they tell us is always true and you have to learn to filter and know what we can take as valid. I honestly think that there is a lot of ignorance among users about security issues that I hope to dispel soon, at least in GNU / Linux users.

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  1.   Fall said

    An antivirus can be the best virus and more, if it is not free and you do not know what it does. All the best.

  2.   Dark cat said

    Very curious that when they ask him about the security landscape in desktop operating systems, they refer to "it is because Windows is the center of everything" that is how they made him see it and when they ask him the same question but focused on mobile phones, they come up with something that it can easily be applied to desktop operating systems, so what fart? From GNU / Linux and others download your things from official repositories without touching third party things.

    Opinions that are worth analyzing; Regards.