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 Source: This article was Publishedfastcompany.com By Steven Melendez - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

VirusTotal, which is a product of Chronicle, a company created within Alphabet’s fabled “moonshot factory,” has been described as “Google for malware.”

Earlier this year, Google parent Alphabet unveiled a new, top-level company called Chronicle that would be dedicated to cybersecurity.

Initially created within X, Alphabet’s so-called “moonshot factory” unit, Chronicle has said that it’s developing a security analytics platform for corporate customers, harnessing the company’s strengths in search, artificial intelligence, raw computing, and data storage power. But Chronicle also includes an often-overlooked security product called VirusTotal, sometimes described as “Google for malware.”

Acquired by Google in 2012, the Malaga, Spain, based company was first created by cybersecurity developer Bernardo Quintero in 2004, who’s worked on antivirus technology since he was a teenager. Quintero’s earlier projects included a Spanish-language cybersecurity newsletter and a tool designed to defeat dial-up-era malware that ran up charges calling premium toll hotlines. VirusTotal enables anyone to upload a file they suspect may contain malware to have it scanned by dozens of antivirus tools from vendors like Symantec, TrendMicro, Kaspersky, and Avast.

“When I started [VirusTotal] there were eight or nine antivirus companies working in the first version of the service,” says Quintero.

Now, there are more than 70, and the tool can extract other metadata from files as well, whether it’s a photo or an executable program, studying the uploaded content in secure virtual cloud machines. Security experts can also use the platform to share information about potential new malware files.

“They can have fast access to the malware samples to improve their product,” Quintero says.

VirusTotal played a role in the analysis of the infamous Stuxnet worm, when it collected some of the first samples, and it’s been cited in commercial and academic security research, including recent work on cryptocurrency-stealing malware.

Since Alphabet’s acquisition, VirusTotal has been largely independently managed, but it’s been able to take advantage of the larger company’s cloud computing and search capabilities—some of the same strengths that Alphabet intends to leverage for its larger Chronicle efforts.

“We’ve increased search capabilities,” says Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett. “We’ve invested a large amount of infrastructure to make scanning faster and better.”

More fundamentally, Alphabet has also helped VirusTotal, which prior to Chronicle’s debut was administratively part of the company’s internal cybersecurity unit, combat denial of service attacks that had threatened it as an independent platform.

“For us, it was a way to perfect our mission,” says Quintero.

VirusTotal Graph [Image: courtesy of VirusTotal]
VirusTotal has also added a data visualization component, called VirusTotal Graph, that can help suss out the relationships between malware files and the URLs and IP addresses that distribute them. And this year, it unveiled a feature called VirusTotal Monitor, which lets legitimate software makers upload their applications and information about them so participating antivirus companies can avoid mistakenly flagging them as malware. The innocuous software samples are stored in a secure, private cloud, and antivirus vendors are only given access to the data if their software begins to mistakenly flag the files as viruses.

Another feature, called VirusTotal Intelligence, lets security researchers sift through the set of uploaded files to find ones matching certain criteria. A bank, for example, could spot malware trying to interact with its websites.

Gillett declined to comment too extensively on plans for Chronicle’s next project, though he emphasized it would also take advantage of Alphabet’s strengths to help customers sift through vast quantities of security data.

“We should be able to help teams search and retrieve useful information and run analysis in minutes, rather than the hours or days it currently takes,” he wrote in a January blog post. “Storage—in far greater amounts and for far lower cost than organizations currently can get it—should help them see patterns that emerge from multiple data sources and over years.”

Chronicle isn’t Alphabet’s only high-profile security project—the company’s Jigsaw unit focuses on tools to make the world safer, including combating misinformation and radicalization, and Google’s Project Zero team has focused on spotting bugs in software before they can do harm. More recently, Alphabet has announced plans to help safeguard elections, including by helping keep Google accounts safe from unauthorized access.

Contributing to cybersecurity in a world where it’s often lacking is an important mission for the company, Gillett says.

“For Alphabet, and for me personally as the founder and CEO of Chronicle, I believe there’s no better moonshot for Alphabet to be going after,” he says.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was usa.kaspersky.com - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Even though computers have become a constant feature of modern life, many people still don't realize the enormous risks that come from constant interaction with technology. 

Computer viruses are one of the oldest forms of malware — in other words, malicious software designed to do harm — but their ability to avoid detection and replicate themselves means that these programs will always be cause for worry. Understanding just what a virus can do to your computer is the first step to securing your system and protecting your family from attack.

A Computer Virus' Potential

The only real qualification for a piece of software to be labeled a "virus" is that the program has the ability to replicate itself onto other machines. This means that not all viruses pose a direct threat to your computer, but often even latent viruses will allow cyberthieves and hackers to install more damaging programs like worms and Trojans. 
Regardless of the intention of the computer virus, the program will take up some system resources while it runs. This slows down your system, even bringing your computer to an abrupt halt if the virus hogs enough resources or if there are many viruses running at the same time.

More often, the computer virus has some kind of malicious intent, either written into the virus itself or from the other pieces of malware that the virus installs. This software can take a number of harmful actions, like opening up a back door to the computer where hackers can take control of the system, or stealing confidential personal information like online banking credentials or credit card numbers. It could also direct your Web browser to unwanted, often pornographic, sites, or even lock the computer down and ask for a ransom to open it back up again. In the most severe cases, viruses can corrupt important computer files, rendering the system useless. Windows OS products are often targets of these types of vulnerabilities so be sure you're secure whether you are running the newest OS , XP, or Windows 8 - security is essential.

How to be a Savvy Computer-User

So with all the damage that a virus can do, you're sure to wonder how you can protect yourself and your family from these threats. The first step is the most obvious, and it all comes down to using your computer in a smart way. 
Ensure all your programs have the latest version of antivirus software installed. This is especially true for things like your operating system, security software and Web browser, but also holds true for just about any program that you frequently use. Viruses often take advantages of bugs or exploits in the code of these programs to propagate to new machines, and while the companies that make the programs are usually quick to fix the holes, those fixes only work if they have been downloaded to your computer. 


It's also important to avoid taking actions that could put your computer at risk. These include opening unsolicited email attachments, visiting unknown websites or downloading software from untrustworthy websites or peer-to-peer file transfer networks. To ensure that the entire family understands the risks, these procedures should be taught to everyone, and children should have their Internet use monitored to ensure they aren't visiting suspect websites or downloading random programs or files.

How to Install Virus Prevention and Detection Software

The next important step in protecting your computer and your family is to install trusted computer security software that can actively scan your system and provide virus protection. You should be warned, however, that not all security solutions are the same. 
Free antivirus software abounds on the Internet, but much of it isn't robust enough to offer complete protection or updated frequently enough to be of much use. Horrifyingly, some of this free software doesn't do anything at all and instead installs viruses, adware, spyware or Trojans when you try to download and install the program. 
If the price is a factor, the best option is to find a competitively priced Internet security solution that offers a free antivirus trial, so that you can see the software in action, and how your computer responds after being cleaned, before you make a purchasing decision. 
The hardest part about all of this is that while each day many threats are neutralized, more are then created in their place. This means that as long as there's an Internet, computer viruses will continue to be a problem. Ignoring the issue or thinking that it won't affect you is a sure way to get your computer compromised, and put your family's information or peace of mind at risk.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

We test and rate free antivirus programs from companies you probably didn't even know offered security software for free. Here's the best free antivirus software you can get in 2016.

There is no excuse for not having AV protection on your PC. None. Because there are lots of free antivirus packages, you can't use the cost as an excuse.

The good thing about having a free product from one of the leading Internet Security (IS) companies is that they use the same AV engine as in their paid-for products. What you get in the free version is stripped down package with a smaller feature set. Few include extras such as spam filtering, improved firewalls, parental controls, password managers and support for mobile devices. 

The free offerings from Avast, AVG, Avira, Bitdefender and Panda all fit this bill, yet all offer basic antivirus and anti-malware protection, giving you a good chance to keep your PC free of threats which could lose you data and take a lot of time to put right.

 

Since testing antivirus software with real malware requires a lot of time and effort, not to mention extremely specialist knowledge, we don't do this ourselves. Instead, we use the results from several well-respected independent test houses, including SE Labs, AV-test.organd AV Comparatives. 

AVG’s privacy policy, showing what rights it takes over your personal and non-personal information when you download and use its free product, has caused quite a furore since it was published around a year ago. You grant it the right to send some of your information to third parties, which may include advertisers.

Some have said ‘Well, this is just AVG being more upfront about its policy; they all do it’, so we checked at what each company says in its privacy policy. They’re not all the same: some require you to opt out to prevent sharing – and AVG says it will offer this – some ask you to opt in, but will respect your decision if you don’t, and some don’t share your information at all with third parties.

Best is Bitdefender, which claims not to share information with anybody outside its own company or subsidiaries. We think this is as it should be with a security product, but second-best is the assumption not to share, with an opt-in, should you want to receive ‘relevant’ offers. This is what Avast and Avira do. Panda does the same as AVG, requiring you to specifically unsubscribe to avoid security-related emails.

Internet security software is designed to prevent damaging programs from infecting your PC and laptop. All the free products here do that. As a secondary task, though, the full paid-for products should reduce the amount of unwanted advertising and offers that get through to you, and they usually offer quite a few other features as we mentioned above.

But without further ago, here are the leading free AV programs – you really can get something for nothing.

Best free antivirus software 2016

Best free antivirus: Avira


Download from Avira 

Avira has previously topped our list of the best free antivirus programs, and it’s still a very strong contender. We like that you can download the full program as well as just the 4MB launcher, giving you the option to start the installation and then leave it to download the rest. It’s not alone in this, but it’s the only one we know of which also lets you download the full thing.

The interface is well designed and easy to use, and the latest version includes a couple of new features in its SearchFree Toolbar: a website safety advisor and the option to block advertising companies from tracking you online.

At first sight, it appears Avira bundles a firewall with its product, but this turns out to be an integrated front-end to the Windows firewall.

File scans can be scheduled and by default there’s a quick scan set to repeat every 168 hours or, as we techies call it, weekly. We reckon a quick scan could run more frequently than this, though.

A year ago, AV-Test gave Avira perfect scores, and this year it still did commendably well. In its recent tests, it handed a 5.5 for protection and the same for performance. Avira achieved the full 6/6 for usability with no false positives or false blockages.

SE Labs didn’t test Avira in its recent roundup, but AV Comparatives gave Avira full marks for blocking 100 percent of threats.

Ultimately, Avira does an excellent job – even when compared to paid-for Internet Security programs.

Best free antivirus: Avast

Download from Avast

Unlike some firms, Avast doesn’t hide its free antivirus offering so you can’t find it. A big orange button on its homepage makes this version more obvious than its paid offerings, so it’s a good start.

As well as basic antivirus protection, it offers protection from unknown threats and a handy password manager so you can log into sites in your browser by remembering just one password.

You don’t get the browser extension that warns of fake sites (such as banks), nor a privacy shield or spam filtering. Those come with Avast’s Internet Security package, while Premier adds automatic software updating and a file shredder.

The good news is that Avast’s antivirus protection is excellent. SE Labs rates it at 94 percent overall, the highest score awarded to a free version. AV Comparatives found that it blocked 99.7 percent of threats in its September 2016 tests. It also found that Avast had the least impact on your PC’s performance – thanks in part to the fact that Avast runs a “significant proportion” of its analysis in the cloud.

AV-Test rates protection, performance and usability, giving Avast 5.5, 4.0 and 5.5 out of 6 respectively.

Overall, then Avast is one of the best free antivirus packages around.

Best free antivirus: Bitdefender


Download from Bitdefender 

Bitdefender’s paid-for Total Security package is excellent, and it’s no surprise to see its free offering score well: it uses the same virus detection engine.

In fact, AV Comparatives awarded it the unbeatable score of 100 percent, successfully blocking all malware during its tests in September. There were no false-positives, either, which is when safe files or programs are reported as being unsafe.

AV-Test also praised Bitdefender, giving it full marks for protection, performance and usability.

SE Labs’ tests found it wasn’t infallible though, with it being compromised by a number of threats and awarding it a protection rating of 73 percent.

Overall, Bitdefender is easy to use, is lightweight and – in general – offers good protection for your PCs. You can read our full Bitdefender Total Security 2016 review for more details.

Best free antivirus: AVG


Download from AVG

We’ve already mentioned AVG’s controversial privacy policy above, but in terms of the protection this free antivirus package offers, it’s not bad at all. SE Labs gave it an overall rating of 89 percent from its test in July-September, and it missed out on an AA award (rather than A) by only one percent.

 

AV-Test’s results from testing in July-August showed that its protection was above the industry average and awarded it 5.5 out of 6. It achieved the same for performance, so won’t slow your computer down. Again, it was given the same high score for usability, and as we’ve used AVG Free on our own PC for the past year, we can – anecdotally – agree that it runs transparently in the background and you don’t really notice it. And that’s exactly what you want from your antivirus.

AVG has a simple-to-understand dashboard so, if you do ever venture to it, it’s very clear whether it’s up to date and protecting your PC.

In addition to an AV engine, it also warns you of unsafe web links and can block unsafe email attachments.

Best free antivirus: Microsoft


Windows Defender is built into Windows 10 and Windows 8, so it’s arguably the easiest option for most people since it’s probably in operation already unless you’ve disabled it or installed another antivirus program.

Unlike in the past, when it merely paid lip-service to virus protection, the modern Security Essentials is a credible and reliable AV engine. OK, it’s not the very best out there, but it certainly does the job.

If your PC or laptop is running Windows 7, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

As the name suggests, it offers basic antivirus protection. The only difference between MSE and Windows Defender is that the latter offers better protection against rootkits and Bootkits.

SE Labs awarded MSE 91 percent overall, ahead of Bitdefender (90) and AVG Free (89). It was only three percent behind Avast, too.

AV-Test gave it only 3.5 out of 6 for protection, but this was due to a poor result in August of 88 percent. In July, it performed as well as any other antivirus package. AV Comparatives found it blocked 96.2 percent of threats, which is below all the other packages here, but as ever, these results all change on a monthly basis.

There are better choices than Security Essentials, but if you’re running Windows 8 or 10 with Defender built in, all you need to do is check that it’s enabled.

Author : Jim Martin

Source : http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/software/best-free-antivirus-software-2016-2017-3649231/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Since the the revelations of Edward Snowden, we’ve all become a bit more paranoid about digital security and privacy. Snowden himself hasn’t owned a smartphone since he blew the whistle on the NSA’s illegal tracking actions in 2014 for fear of being tracked. Still, as Joseph Heller wrote in Catch-22, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”.

To that length, Snowden has now partnered with hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang to build a case for your iPhone 6. Once installed, it will alert you if the phone is broadcasting when it shouldn’t. The primary purpose is to protect journalists who are reporting in dangerous parts of the world like Marie Colvin who, in 2012, was killed by artillery fire. The Syrian military has been accused by Colvin’s family of targeting her using her mobile device.

Snowden’s device is not yet on the market, but there are still ways out there that make it easier to protect yourself and your phone from snooping.

1. Hardware Level Encryption

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.31.14 AM.png

iOS has long supported hardware level encryption, and every new version seems to support more features. Android encrypts your storage by default ever since version 5.0 Marshmallow. In both cases they encrypt your data and can only be unlocked by the hardware in your phone.

However, it’s only as strong as your key. Setting up a lock code more complex than ‘1234’ or your birthday is one of the best security devices you can have.

2. Biometric scanning hardware

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.01.52 AM.png

Why have passwords and codes to unlock your phone when fingerprint readers are on the newest iPhones and flagship Android phones? Securely unlocking your device is as quick as pressing a button. Iris scanners are the new biometric scanner toy, and is currently a unique feature on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. It’s far more secure than fingerprint scanning, but early reports indicate that it’s slower and more inconvenient. Even so, thieves will have a hard time replicating your iris in order to access your data so iris scanning might be your best option.

3. Smartphone technology

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.03.32 AM.png

You can put your phone in Airplane Mode or you can hold the power button and turn it off. However, Edward Snowden rightly believes that malware can be installed on your device to simulate those features while still reporting your location. The only way to be sure your phone isn’t talking to the wrong people is to yank the battery.

Phones like new LG G5 are doing some things to work around that. The flagship smartphone was redesigned to take advantage of LG Friends products, which are modular accessories that add special features to your phone. The accessories haven’t really taken off, but it gives the G5 the unique ability to pop the battery out with the push of a button. It also has a fingerprint reader and the newest Android with encrypted data protection built in.

When it’s turned off you can’t use the camera, microphone, or notepad features that make a smartphone so useful when acting covertly. You’ll have to check how safe you are, then with a quick pop the battery is back in and you can get recording.

4.Encrypted Instant Messenger

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.16.02 AM.png


There are dozens, maybe hundreds of Instant Messaging apps out there. We all have our favorite, and our friends have theirs (which we have too just to use just to stay in contact). If you want to be sure that only you and your recipient will be able to read your conversation, you need to use Signal (available for iOS and Android).

 

Once you install it, the app checks your contacts and immediately connects you to anyone else who has the app installed. There are no animated stickers here. The design is minimal and fits right in with Android or iOS’s design specs.

If your friends are unwilling to part with their IM app-of-choice, you have to do your research. WhatsApp supports encryption using the same algorithm used in Signal, but they were acquired by Facebook in 2014 and that makes some users uncomfortable. Google’s forthcoming Allo app will replace Hangouts, but only enables end-to-end encryption with Incognito Mode conversations and are deleted when the conversation ends. Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime both support end-to-end encryption as well. Just make sure to encrypt your backups because all your conversations will wind up there.

5. Anti-Virus Software

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.33.17 AM.png

No sooner than someone says an operating system is virus-proof than someone tries to write a virus for it. While not the plague it was for desktop computers in the 90s, viruses are still a very real possibility even if you only download from the official Apple or Google app stores.

 

To that end, there are several anti-virus apps that sit in the background and scan every app that comes through the doors. Lookout Security & Antivirus is one of the grandaddies on the mobile platform. It’s available on Android and iOS for free and remains one of the highest ranked antivirus apps. Additional features are unlocked for $2.99 a month or $29.99 annually.

6. Password Safes 

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.19.05 AM.png

Thinking up a new password for every email address, e-card site, and cat video portal is exhausting. Eventually, you start to recycle passwords. It then only takes one hacked Sony or LinkedIn to expose your accounts on every site where that password is used. Password managers like 1Password and LastPass securely store your passwords, and release them only when authorized by a master password or fingerprint reader.

While they can store your weakly generated and repeated passwords, password safes can also randomize unique passwords for each site. Securely storing ‘passw0rd123’ is good, but no hacker will guess a 16-digit random collection of letters and numbers. Since they will automatically populate username and password fields in your browser or apps, you’ll never need to type it in either. Both 1Password and LastPass can be installed on your desktop browsers so you have full access to those secure sites everywhere.

7. DTEK by Blackberry

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.20.02 AM.png

You’ve set a secure password on your lock screen, you’ve turned off Google’s tracking, you disable WiFi when outside the house, but there’s still lots of work to do. Just one year ago privacy experts found that simply having Uber installed on your phone could send buckets of your data to their servers, even if you weren’t using the app.

Enter DTEK by Blackberry. It will scan all potential security breaches on your phone. If an app decides to turn on your microphone, DTEK flashes you a warning. Most of the time it will probably be okay, but that one time it’s not you’ll appreciate the warning.

DTEK keeps a log of the access each app receives and reports back to you how many times it has, for example, read your contacts. It even has Factory Reset Protection, which stops thieves from wiping your device to prevent you from tracking it. All this security sounds like a lot of work, but that’s the beautiful thing about DTEK. The clean interface makes it all very simple for the casual user.

Sadly, the DTEK app requires deep access to the phone’s OS. That’s only possible for Blackberry on their own devices; the Blackberry PRIV and DTEK50. Both are Android phones with hardware features comparable to other high-end and mid-range Android flagships. If Blackberry decides at the end of the year to get out of the hardware game, the DTEK software may be opened to other devices.

8. Tracking software

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.21.42 AM.png

Sometimes, tracking your phone is a good thing. Your phone goes missing, and all your photos, notes and interview recordings are on there.

For at least a few years, both iOS and Android have had tracking software built into your phones in case they get lost or stolen. Using iCloud.com (link), iPhone users can locate their device, lock the screen, lock the activation (so it can’t be resold and reactivated), or remotely wipe the device clean.

When logged into your Google account, a simple search engine query of “Find my phone” will bring up a map for any of your registered devices. From the web-based interface you can force it to ring (even if the sound is off). Useful for when you just can’t find it around house, or when you know the thief is nearby and you want it to send up a flare. From here you can also reset the password, or completely lock out the device.

 

9. VPN

A Virtual Private Network sits between you and the Internet. It’s like a butler that goes out, gets the newspaper, and returns without anyone knowing you like reading supermarket tabloids. VPNs can be used to keep your information anonymous when visiting web sites, place you in different countries (so you can watch Netflix’s BBC lineup), and most importantly, encrypt your data transfer.

Avoid free VPNs. If you don’t know how they’re making money, then they might be making money on you. Spring the few bucks a month it takes to secure all your connections in and out of your smartphone with a service like NordVPN. Is one level of encryption not good enough? NordVPN offers Double VPN which runs AES-256-CBC encryption on your data transfers two times at the expense of some speed. The feature is optional and can be enabled for those times when you’re feeling as paranoid as Edward Snowden. The service is $8 per month, or $69 for the year.

Source : https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/08/9-ways-to-secure-your-smartphone.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy

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