Malware menace

Editorial Type: Technology Focus Date: 05-2020 Views: 768 Tags: Security, Networking, Encryption, VPN, Malware, Avast PDF Version:
A privacy-first browser combining a built-in VPN with complete encryption, aims to give users a fast, secure and private experience on mobile

In early March this year, Avast Threat Lab researchers found that the increasing use of mobile devices around the globe was fuelling the growth of mobile-related malware. To date, 131 COVID-19 related apps have been detected as malicious through Avast's apklab.io platform, as cybercriminals look to exploit the pandemic using social engineering tactics.

According to statistics gathered by the Avast researchers between October and December 2019, adware (software that hijacks user devices to spam them with malicious ads) is responsible for 72% of mobile malware, with the remaining 28% of threats linked to banking trojans, fake apps, lockers and downloaders. Now, Avast has released an Android version of Avast Secure Browser, extending its platform support beyond Windows and Mac on desktop to mobile.

The introduction of a multi-platform browser is part of Avast's ongoing focus to converge security and privacy services to "enable a safer, more private and faster browsing experience across devices and operating systems", sccording to the company.

Avast Secure Browser for Android was developed following Avast's 2019 acquisition of Tenta, a private browser backed by Blockchain pioneer ConsenSys and has been built from the ground up by privacy and cybersecurity engineers focused on total encryption. At its core is strong encryption, including AES-256, ChaCha 256-bit and the latest TLS/SSL cryptographic protocols for the data transport layer. To ensure that user DNS requests are kept private and secure, the browser supports multiple DNS options straight out of the box, such as DNS over TLS, DNSSEC and decentralised DNS support.

"Avast's core mission is to make the world a safer place by protecting the security and privacy of every customer, says Scott Curtiss, vice president and general manager of Avast Secure Browser. "Our commitment to being a privacy-by-design technology provider was behind our acquisition of leading private mobile browser Tenta, whose technology has contributed to the development of our new Avast Secure Browser for Android. We know that our customers care deeply about security and privacy, and want to be in control of their own personal data, without compromising the quality of their online interactions. Our goal is to be the first all-in-one browser to secure our users' privacy, along with a frictionless secure browsing experience. Adding support for mobile is another milestone in our journey towards this long-term goal."

Additional built-in security and privacy features that are available with Avast Secure Browser for Android include:

  • A VPN that encrypts all inbound and outbound connections to the VPN location
  • An ephemeral user PIN code for device access that is never stored on any server nor on the device itself
  • Anti-tracking technologies used to prevent websites, advertisers and other web services from tracking online activity
  • Adblock integration to improve website load time
  • An encrypted media vault

Adds Curtiss: "There is still a perception among many consumers that on mobile, internet and browser-based threats do not exist. This is not the case. Mobile is a lucrative platform for cybercriminals, because of its majority market share versus desktop and higher levels of internet traffic. In the past twelve months, we've seen adware rise by 38% on Android."