The New Version of Kaspersky Security Cloud Strengthens Privacy Control for Apps and Websites

Kaspersky has updated Kaspersky Security Cloud – its account-based … Thus, consumers who already use some of Kaspersky’s software do not have …

Kaspersky has updated Kaspersky Security Cloud – its account-based service with access to the company’s best consumer technologies and tools – with new ways to protect user privacy across multiple devices. Kaspersky Security Cloud now reduces the risk of users’ privacy being violated by warning them about the risks of dangerous and special permissions requested by apps on Android devices. In addition, it notifies users about phishing attempts hidden behind shortened links to websites. Kaspersky’s traditional consumer product line, with Essential-to-Premium solutions, has been further enhanced to offer a better user experience through performance improvements and optimizing the number of notifications.

According to Kaspersky’s report – The true value of digital privacy: are consumers selling themselves short? – it is increasingly common for consumers to protect their digital privacy by checking the settings on their devices and the apps that they use. In fact, more than a third (35%) of consumers regularly follow this practice.

However, as apps today often make suspicious permission requests that could endanger user privacy, confusion reigns. In order to simplify consumers’ control over privacy and save time in managing settings, Kaspersky Security Cloud’s new feature for Android devices enables users to view and manage app permissions in one place, at a glance. This helps identify potentially dangerous or questionable requests made by an app, and explains the risks associated with different types of common permissions.

In addition to suspicious app permissions, there’s another privacy risk that consumers need to be aware of and this has been accounted for in the new version of Kaspersky Security Cloud. In recent years, short URLs have seen widespread adoption due to the limited amount of characters they take up in instant messages or tweets. In fact, many legitimate services now use short URLs to link to desired webpages for sales and marketing purposes. However, while there are benefits, they can be dangerous as users don’t neccessarily know where they lead. This can have serious privacy consequences and has resulted in the increased popularity of short URLs among cybercriminals in recent years. To combat this, users of Kaspersky Security Cloud can take advantage of an improved Anti-Phishing feature to better protect personal information. The service analyzes short URLs and warns if a phishing link is hidden behind them. As part of this process, Kaspersky Security Cloud sends an anti-phishing alert to the user and ensures that the links and websites they access are safe.

“For modern users, it is not enough to just secure their device. Cybercriminals are becoming more interested in obtaining personal information about a specific person – whether it is a piece of financial information or their search history. If this sort of information is exposed, it can bring potential harm to its owner making the issue of digital privacy extremely important. In order to provide more control over personal information regardless of which type of device they use, we have updated Kaspersky Security Cloud. We are helping consumers keep their personal data safe and sound across multiple devices,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky.

There are three editions of Kaspersky Security Cloud: Free (extended version of Kaspersky Free that now, apart from Windows, supports mobile devices and delivers personalized protection), Personal and Family. Each edition offers a different number of applications, tools and technologies. All Kaspersky Security Cloud subscribers can install its applications and technologies on a PC, Mac and mobile devices. What is more, all customers will receive the new features and updates for free within the subscription period.

To learn more about the new version of Kaspersky Security Cloud, visit https://me.kaspersky.com/security-cloud.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security: performance improvements and better user experience

As well as updating Kaspersky Security Cloud, Kaspersky has also refined the interface and key capabilities within Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security. This has improved performance, how consumers receive notifications, and the overall user experience.

Kaspersky has worked on improving its traditional security solutions’ performance for Windows. For example, in order to speed up lengthy file system scans for malware, the restriction on the PC’s resources consumed has been lifted. Furthermore, the latest version can be installed in just half the time and is 15% ‘lighter’ – so there’s less load on the user’s PC.

In addition, security solutions now only alert users about significant events and ensure a frictionless experience. For instance, when a user visits a banking website, they receive a notification from the Safe Money feature, informing them that their session is protected.

Kaspersky has also simplified how credentials and account information is exchanged between the company’s products. Thus, consumers who already use some of Kaspersky’s software do not have to re-enter their credentials whenever they install a new product. Rather, they can manage them all under one My Kaspersky account.

To learn more about the new generation of Kaspersky’s consumer traditional product line, visit https://me.kaspersky.com/home-security#all

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Stop using outdated software like Windows 7, Kaspersky says

Despite the fact that running an unsupported or near end-of-life operating system increases security risks, new research from Kaspersky has revealed …

Despite the fact that running an unsupported or near end-of-life operating system increases security risks, new research from Kaspersky has revealed that many businesses and consumers are still using Windows 7 and some have yet to upgrade past Windows XP.

Researchers from the cybersecurity firm analyzed data collected from Kaspersky Security Network users regarding what operating system they use and the results show that 41 percent of consumers still use obsolete systems including extremely old ones like Windows XP and Vista.

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Avast Free Mac Security: Best Free Option

That means Avast tied with Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac on the AV-Comparatives test (both hit 100%).

Avast Free Mac Security doesn’t break a lot of new ground. As is the case with most free software, it does an OK job and — like popular free-to-play games — aims to pull money from your pockets after it’s installed.

The one major perk of Avast Free Mac Security is that it can identify attacks in your email inbox, a feature that we’d like to see in all Mac antivirus services. At the end of the day, though, Avast’s Mac malware protection rate isn’t quite as good as its competitors’, which is the most important part of antivirus software.

Avast Free Mac Security costs and what’s covered

Avast Free Mac Security is free. It supports Macs running any version of macOS, as long as they have 128MB of RAM and 750MB of available disk space.

Antivirus protection

Avast Free Mac Security keeps Macs free of malware using traditional signature-based detection by unpacking Mac-specific file formats and scanning them for malicious content. It also uses its artificial-intelligence system to apply lessons from its user base to train its software.

Avast also thwarts PC malware on Mac, to prevent it from spreading on networks, and scans unopened ZIP files. It performs system protection scanning in the background, permits both on-demand and scheduled scans, and can scan your router to protect you against DNS hijacking and other threats.

Antivirus detection

Avast Free Mac Security’s on-demand malware-scanning engine has a mixed record in recent lab tests. It stopped 100% of malware in tests conducted by Austrian lab AV-Comparatives in July 2018 and June 2019.

(Image credit: Future)

Results from German lab AV-Test were less consistent: 100% of Mac malware was detected by Avast in June 2018 and June 2019, but Avast caught only 96.3% of malware in December 2018.

(Image credit: Future)

That means Avast tied with Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac on the AV-Comparatives test (both hit 100%). However, it failed to match Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Norton 360 Deluxe on the AV-Test study, in which all three earned 100% scores.

(Image credit: Future)

Of all the Mac antivirus programs we tested, Avast Free Mac Security was the only one that flagged items already on our system as threats. Specifically, it found three email messages in my old, inactive, Outlook database that contained links to phishing websites.

Security and privacy features

Avast Free Mac Security includes Avast’s Online Security browser extension, which automatically installs itself in Chrome unless you opt out, while Firefox provides a confirmation prompt to make sure you approve the extension. The Avast extension appears as a button that is green when you’re safe and red if a site is potentially harmful. Similar flags will appear next to search results.

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re wary of sites that monitor your actions, the Avast browser extension also displays a counter badge that tallies the number of activity trackers found in a website and provides an additional option to block social network-based tracking.

(Image credit: Future)

Not only does Avast scan activity on your hard drive and web browsers, but it also monitors POP3 and IMAP email clients, including Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Postbox and Airmail, and scans email attachments as well as email messages.

(Image credit: Future)

Avast monitors your computer and its network connections in the background, scans new files upon installation and lets you schedule scans. However, Avast Free Mac Security doesn’t have any of the extra features offered by paid competitors, such as parental controls, a VPN service, firewalls or webcam blockers.

Performance and system impact

Avast Free Mac Security had a moderate impact on system performance, which we assessed by running our custom Excel VLOOKUP benchmark test, which matches 60,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. Our test machine wasa 2017 MacBook Air with a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5 CPU and approximately 54GB of data stored on a 128GB SSD.

(Image credit: Future)

With Avast Free Mac Security installed on our MacBook, but without any active scans running, the VLOOKUP test finished in an average of 3 minutes and 38 seconds, 1 second longer than without any antivirus software installed. That’s a passive system hit of less than 1%, and not something you would likely perceive.

MORE: Hackers Say They’ve Breached Three Antivirus Companies

Other antivirus products’ passive system impacts ranged from 5% (Sophos Home Premium) to zero percent (Bitdefender). This is overall great news for Mac users: Most of the time, you’ll never notice that you’ve got antivirus software running.

(Image credit: Future)

You would be more likely to notice the slowdowns created by Avast’s active scans. During full-system scans, the VLOOKUP test finished in an average of 4 minutes and 59 seconds, resulting in a big performance dip of 37 percent. That’s not as bad as McAfee AntiVirus Plus‘ 47% fall (the worst offender), although it wasn’t as good as Sophos’ 7% full-scan system hit.

Avast’s full-scan completion time, which took an hour and 11 minutes on average, was on the longer end of scores but was not the longest we found — Sophos’ 2-hour-and-56-minute time was the longest. Malwarebytes for Mac Premium’s full scan took a miraculous 16 seconds, while Bitdefender closed its full scan in 4:25. Kaspersky (41:20) and Norton (25:49) fell in the middle of the pack.

Interface

Avast Free Mac Security may not be the prettiest antivirus app, but it provides a number of functions and options. Its main window shows users a Protected status, as scans are enabled by default. All other features, including on-demand scans, are located in a menu bar on the left.

(Image credit: Future)

Avast’s main window presents users with their status — Protected or otherwise — and a “Run scan” button that pushes you to Avast Cleanup Pro. You’ll be confused by this abrupt switch of apps if you weren’t paying attention to the fine print, and you’ll soon realize that Cleanup Pro is a paid product that looks to tidy up your hard drive and costs between $2.99 or $3.99 per month.

MORE: Best Free Antivirus Software

After you click that Run scan button once, it changes to an Upgrade button for Avast Security Pro, which features anti-ransomware protections and Wi-Fi and network scanning. To avoid further confusion, click on Scans in the left-hand menu, which opens that section as well as other sections of the app, such as Reports, Virus Chest, Shields and Preferences.

(Image credit: Future)

In Scan, you can select from a number of different types, such as scans of custom directories, scans of removable volumes and scans of your home network. Avast also includes scheduled scans, an increasingly rare option these days.

Clicking on New Scan presents a Start button for activating a Quick Scan and a Change Scan Type button to switch to a full-computer scan.

(Image credit: Future)

You’ll find database updates and analyses of scans performed on your system in Avast’s Reports. Avast places files it flags as malicious into the Virus Chest quarantine section, where you can delete or restore them (if you think Avast is mistaken).

(Image credit: Future)

Open the Shields section to see real-time analysis of scanned files. Annoyingly, if the file directory is especially long, Avast won’t give you the full directory, so you can’t go look up the offending file for yourself. You may not need to, but we’d prefer to have the option.

(Image credit: Future)

In the Preferences tab, you’ll find options to change the frequency of notifications, system updates and scans. Here, you can also disable hard-drive, email and web protection, although Avast wisely makes you enter your system password first. Additionally, you can disable Avast’s menu-bar icon from this window (it’s under Miscellaneous).

(Image credit: Future)

If you create an account with Avast, you can check the status of any systems you’ve logged into in the Account tab as well as at my.avast.com. Avast’s menu-bar button provides links to open the main interface window, see current activity and application information, and review previous notifications.

Installation and support

To install Avast Free Mac Security, you open Avast.com and click Download, which will place the installer DMG on your Mac. (Thankfully, you won’t have to go through download.com anymore, an annoying part of the previous model.) After you click through the end-user-license agreements, the installer will download more files and install Avast.

(Image credit: Future)

No restart is required, and the whole process took about 2 minutes for me, which felt about normal. In the middle of the installation, you get the option to not install Avast’s unlimited Password Manager and the company’sSecureLine VPN client. The Avast Online Security browser plug-in is free, but you get only a seven-day trial of SecureLine VPN service, which otherwise starts at $60 per year.

(Image credit: Future)

To get technical support, click Help in the menu bar, select Avast Technical Support and then select Contact Help to open Avast’s Support site. Here, you can find a FAQ, ask for help in the forums and call a customer-support line that will provide free advice for installing, configuring, updating and removing Avast.

MORE: How to Buy Antivirus Software

If you need more help than that, Avast offers paid support starting at $79 for any call that isn’t related to removing a virus or malware, or at $119 per call for virus-related calls. For more support, you can spend $199 for a year of unlimited service, or $10 per month plus a $99 setup fee.

Bottom line

Avast’s email scanning gives it an edge over competing Mac antivirus products. It needs such an advantage when the rest of its package is such a mixed bag.

Not only does Avast’s software continually push you to spend money on additional services (unlikely if you’ve already chosen to use free antivirus software), but its malware detection rates aren’t great overall.

If you’re going to pay, you should instead choose Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, which gives you excellent protection and a low system impact for $40 a year. If

you’d rather not pay, then Avast is the best free option, but only because Sophos Home, which has a more full-featured free tier, has undetermined malware-protection abilities on Macs.

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Busted: Kaspersky AV Tracked Your Every Click

Kaspersky Lab’s endpoint security products track your web activity. … The AV software inserts a JavaScript bug in every webpage you load. Incredibly …

Kaspersky Lab’s endpoint security products track your web activity. All of it—the Russian company even monitors visits to https-secured websites.

The AV software inserts a JavaScript bug in every webpage you load. Incredibly, Kaspersky included a unique identifier that allows any other website to track you, too. The company has patched that latter behavior, but the Russian tracking remains in place.

Yevgeny Valentinovich “Eugene” Kaspersky (pictured) is probably right to look red-faced. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we click Uninstall.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: humorless 74’ driver.


KAV is Spyware

What’s the craic? Ronald Eikenberg puns it up—“Kasper-Spy: Kaspersky Anti-Virus puts users at risk”:

A data leak allowed third parties to spy on users while they were surfing the web. For years.



An external JavaScript script named main.js was being loaded from a Kaspersky domain. … When I checked the HTML source of other websites … I found the strange code on each and every page. Without exception, even on the website of my bank, a script from Kaspersky was introduced.



The simple conclusion was that Kaspersky’s virus protection was manipulating my traffic. Without my permission, it was injecting that code. [And] the address from which the Kaspersky script was loaded contained a … permanently assigned ID … (UUID).



That’s a remarkably bad idea. Other scripts … can read the Kaspersky ID [so] any website can read the user’s Kaspersky ID and use it for tracking. … Kaspersky has created a dangerous tracking mechanism that makes tracking cookies look old [and] can even overcome the browser’s incognito mode.



At this point, it was clear that this was a serious security issue.

Um, no ****, Sherlock. A well-read Shaun Nichols asks, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”:

Kaspersky’s fix addresses a privacy hole … on the heels of the monthly security patch dumps from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and SAP, giving admins one more update to test and install. … Kaspersky, for its part, downplayed the risk posed by the behavior but did acknowledge it had been in contact with Eikenberg and had agreed to stop including unique identifiers as part of its web antivirus tool.



A spokesperson said … “After our internal research, we have concluded that such scenarios of user’s privacy compromise are theoretically possible but are unlikely to be carried out in practice, due to their complexity and low profitability for cybercriminals.”

Wait, what?revenant gives that PR guff a big thumbs-down:

Embedding unique IDs in pages was dumb, but these words from Kaspersky … seem particularly naive. The continuing need for products like theirs is a testament to the dedication of miscreants to the task of exploiting even the tiniest of vulnerabilities.



1/10, Must do better.

Ouch. But what was Kaspersky trying to achieve, and how can I switch it off? christose answers both:

It’s for their URL Advisor feature. It annotates pages like Google search results with a color indicator next to each link, to show if the link is “safe” or not.



You can disable it from Options => Additional => Networking.

Wait. Pause. That doesn’t explain the UUID, as scdeimos points out:

Stop and think about that.



Now explain why Kaspersky needs a UUID for the URL Advisor to function. Dangerous URLs are equally dangerous to all users – you don’t need to call them out for some users and not others.

Butbelthize wonders if we’re over-reacting a little bit:

Karpersky is guilty … of what exactly?



Sloppy thinking but not maliciousness. … They weren’t tracking you. But because they injected your id into the page a remote site could … if the site knew about the vulnerability.



Sub-optimal? Sure. Horrifyingly terrible breach of trust? Not even a little bit.

Another worry is raised by Garach Jedao Shkan—@ClipperChip:

Kaspersky Anti-Virus lets … servers in Russia … read all your typed URLs and URL parameters. For years.



That includes SSL because conveniently such Snake-Oil software bypasses it. … Your SSL is compromised with such software.

And S. Hossein Darvari—@xhdix—agrees:

Kaspersky sends requests to his server every two seconds. These queries included the full URL of each browser tab.



By doing so, they logged all user activity. (What part of each site was used for how long.)



I no longer use [the] software. Because privacy is as important as security.

So what does this do to Kaspersky’s already-tarnished reputation? Nathaniel Mott muses on “UUID Injection”:

[I] said earlier this week that improvements to Windows Defender made it hard to recommend third-party antivirus solutions for Windows 10. Knowing that Kaspersky gave website operators an easy way to track its users without their knowledge or consent makes that recommendation even harder.



People bought a tool so they could defend their systems, but instead, they got one that intentionally broadcast a unique identifier to the world.

And Finally:

Po-faced 747 pilot “exposes” Hollywood lies


You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or sbbw@richi.uk. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Image source: Евгений Валентинович Касперский (cc:by-sa)

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Kaspersky AV injected unique ID that allowed sites to track users, even in incognito mode

Antivirus software is something that can help people be safer and more private on the Internet. But its protections can cut both ways. A case in point: for …
Kaspersky AV injected unique ID that allowed sites to track users, even in incognito mode

Antivirus software is something that can help people be safer and more private on the Internet. But its protections can cut both ways. A case in point: for almost four years, AV products from Kaspersky Lab injected a unique identifier into the HTML of every website a user visited, making it possible for sites to identify people even when using incognito mode or when they switched between Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

The identifier, as reported Thursday by c’t Magazine, was part of a blob of JavaScript Kaspersky products injected into every page a user visited. The JavaScript, presented below this paragraph, was designed to, among other things, present a green icon that corresponded to safe links returned in search results.

c't reporter Ronald Eikenberg found something unsettling about the JavaScript injected by the Kaspersky AV product installed on his test computer—the tag 9344FDA7-AFDF-4BA0-A915-4D7EEB9A6615 was unique to his machine, and it was injected into every single page he visited. It didn't matter if he used Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Opera or whether he turned on incognito browsing. The identifier acted as a unique serial number that website operators could use to track him.

Kaspersky stopped sending the identifier in June, after Eikenberg privately reported the behavior to the AV company. The identifier was introduced in the fall (for those in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway) of 2015. That meant that for close to four years, all consumer versions of Kaspersky software for Windows—including the free version, Kaspersky Internet Security, and Kaspersky Total Security—silently branded users with a unique identifier.

Eikenberg wrote:

In other words, any website can read the user's Kaspersky ID and use it for tracking. If the same Universally Unique Identifier comes back or appears on another website of the same operator, they can see that the same computer is being used. If this assumption is correct, Kaspersky has created a dangerous tracking mechanism that makes tracking cookies look old. In that case, websites can track Kaspersky users, even if they switch to a different browser. Worse yet, the super tracking can even overcome the browser's incognito mode.

The behavior stopped in a new version Kaspersky Lab released in June, and the company issued an advisory about the threat a month later. The security issue is tracked as CVE-2019-8286.

Before readers get worked up into too much of a lather, let's review a few things. Even without a unique tracking number, there are plenty of ways for websites to uniquely identify their visitors. IP addresses and cookies are the most obvious ways, but often the specific combination of installed fonts, extensions, and configuration settings are all that's needed to fingerprint a specific user, in some cases even when someone uses multiple browsers.

What's more, Eikenberg told Ars he tested older Kaspersky products with the Tor browser and found no evidence the identifier was injected. The upshot of all this: adding a unique identifier to a security feature seems unnecessary and less than ideal for privacy, but it's not something to make a federal case out of. Last, it wouldn't be surprising if other AV products do, or have done in the past, similar things.

In a statement, Kaspersky officials wrote:

Kaspersky has changed the process of checking webpages for malicious activity by removing the usage of unique identifiers for the GET requests. This change was made after Ronald Eikenberg reported to us that using unique identifiers for the GET requests can potentially lead to the disclosure of a user's personal information.

After our internal research, we have concluded that such scenarios of user's privacy compromise are theoretically possible but are unlikely to be carried out in practice, due to their complexity and low profitability for cybercriminals. Nevertheless, we are constantly working on improving our technologies and products, resulting in a change in this process.

We'd like to thank Ronald Eikenberg for reporting this to us.

Kaspersky Lab officials also confirmed that the company's AV products don't interact with TOR traffic.

The larger point of all this is that, as noted earlier, AV protection—whether from Kaspersky or anyone else—can be double-edged. Yes, it may save someone who clicks recklessly on links or attachments, but it can also increase attack surface or add behaviors that many security experts argue are unsafe. (Completely unmentioned in the c't article is the installation of a self-signed digital certificate that many AV products use to inspect HTTPS-protected traffic. That sits wrong with many people who say no application should tamper with TLS traffic.)

Deciding whether to use AV will depend on the user and the type of machine. For a dissident or government contractor actively targeted by state-sponsored hackers—especially when the target is using a Mac or Linux machine—AV probably offers more risk than benefit, since the unique identifier Kaspersky Lab was adding is within the scope of things that might be exploited.

A less experienced user surfing porn sites on a Windows machine, on the other hand, would arguably be better off using AV, since as Kaspersky's statement notes, the identifier isn't something profit-seeking hackers are likely to target. One thing is for certain, whatever decision you make, there will be someone on Twitter to tell you you're wrong and that your choice is reckless.

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