Tag Archives: AVG Innovation Labs

Breathing fresh air into the Internet of Things, to keep you alive

Here at AVG we have an innovation team (AVG Innovation Labs) that looks at future security risks and how technology can be deployed to manage it.

And when it comes to new IoT devices, special consideration is needed to ensure data is kept personal and private. AVG Innovation Labs undertakes research to allow us to understand how best to provide these services going forward.

The AVG team have been innovating their own IoT devices and applications to get a first-hand experience of the challenges that vendors go through when creating a device for the home.

One of those projects has been looking at air quality and how it can be an issue for many people, whether they suffer from allergies or maybe asthma. Breathing clean and acceptable air can improve our day to day experience, and by extension our personal security.

The device starts with measuring the Air Quality Index (AQI) which provides an overall rating of air quality.  This is obtained by analyzing multiple sensor readings such as relative humidity, temperature, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and many more.

In conjunction with our vision of the future for AVG Zen and Family Graph, we’re demonstrating the importance of location as an impact on the safety of everyday family life.

Now imagine a scenario where we combine some of that future AVG Zen functionality with Air Quality monitoring and other connected devices in the home.

Through location sharing our devices know if we are home, travelling, or even en route from work or school. As we start our travel toward home, our smart connected device that we all carry could automatically connect with the home network to inspect the status of air quality and temperature remotely.

With that information at hand, and making decisions based on our preferences, the technology could automatically open vents or start de-humidification or air-conditioning units to change the air quality, or switch on the heating so that we have a warm house to welcome us home.

The potential for technology to improve our everyday lives and ensure that our environment is the best it could be is remarkable. There is also the life-saving benefit of avoiding toxic conditions caused when a gas powered heating system malfunctions, for example.

When IoT devices bring real value such as this, it’s important that they are not interfered with by hackers, and that the data analyzed remains private and secure. Imagine getting home to find the air quality has been made worse not better, or that the house is too cold or even too hot and you have a large energy bill coming your way.

Through innovation like this, AVG is able to understand the complex challenges of securing devices and services that will one day provide us all with truly connected homes and lives.

Physical safety is becoming digital security

Imagine rows of people hunched over soldering irons, carefully crafting systems designed to hack wireless devices and networks. Welcome to Defcon 23, a mash-up of talks, small vendor displays and hands-on hacking challenges/competitions dedicated to all things security—and how to break through it.

While browsing through booths of physical hacking paraphernalia, I ran across lock-picking tools from Toool. Scattered across the table were lock-picking sets as well as heaps of sample locks, so you could refine your technique.


Picking analog locks is a lot of fun, but I would have expected to see more digital hacking tools, for electronic door locks for example. At AVG we’ve been studying how physical security systems are evolving to become more digital and the security challenges that emerge from this evolution.

Your home door lock will become digital soon (here are some examples), and those skilled with wireless hacking will replace those with lock-picking expertise. Your digital lock will have more functionality than your old analog one. For example, it will probably have a camera, and allow you to let the plumber in even though you are at the office.  It is easy to imagine the incremental security concerns that this opens up. While it may take years for this to occur, but it’s not too speculative to imagine that houses with high-value contents will become digital faster than others and provide an attractive target for theft.

Digitizing old technologies, like the door-lock, is just another part of the IoT trend. Next year at Defcon we might see an analog+digital hacking kit, combining lock picks and hacker hardware to open your door. This is something we’re keeping a close eye on as we also develop tools that help monitor and manage your security.

Introducing Crumble – Surf Without Surveillance

We are happy to announce Crumble, a brand new Chrome extension designed by our colleagues from the Innovation Labs. The extension, currently in beta, will prevent companies from tracking you on the Internet via cookies, without breaking the websites you visit.

You can install the extension for free from here: Crumble Chrome extension.


While this is not the first solution of its kind, we do think that our implementation makes Crumble the best solution against online cookie tracking.  Here’s why:

  • Stops online tracking companies from creating your profile via cookies based on your online browsing
  • It’s always up to date because it does not rely on a predefined list of online trackers.
  • By design does not offer preferential treatment to selected ad networks (unlike some other extensions)
  • Does not break the user experience on websites you visit
  • Does not hide any content on the websites you visit
  • Shows instantly who is tracking you on websites you visit

Download Crumble

How does it work?

Crumble intercepts 3rd party cookies and controls what information is sent back to the web tracking companies.  This way we can prevent trackers from following and profiling you based on the sites you visit.

Because, we manage rather than block 3rd party cookies, this means you will always get the full website experience; no broken plugins, no missing content, no weird behavior.

But wait! There’s more! Unlike other extensions that promise you a similar thing, we are doing all this by identifying the type of the cookie and not by keeping a blacklist of trackers. This allows us to block any new tracker as soon as it appears. No waiting time, no updating any list. Instant action.

This also means that we do not offer preferential treatment to trackers (aka whitelist them) unlike some other extensions.

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Get in touch

This is Beta release from Innovation Labs by AVG. For more info you can find FAQ section of our website.

We would also love to hear your feedback at support.innovation [@] avg.com or tweet us @avginnovation.


Is the rise of biometric security a good thing?

Whether we like it or not, it seems that biometric security is rapidly becoming the norm.

In March alone, Samsung unveiled new iris scanning technology, Microsoft announced facial recognition for Windows 10, Asus introduced fingerprint scanning and Qualcomm, Fujitsu and Intel all jumped in with biometric tools of their own.

Why are we seeing such rapid adoption?

Although it may still seem futuristic, modern biometric security has been around for a number of years. You could argue though that it was only with the launch of the iPhone 5S and its fingerprint scanner that people really started to take notice.

Now, fuelled by convenience, biometric security is at the forefront of our minds. After all, why remember a password or have to input a code when your device can simply scan you and authorize access?

Is it secure?

While few people can argue that biometric security is not convenient, there are still question marks over its viability as a robust security measure.

SRI, who developed Samsung’s iris scanning technology claim that “tests have shown this purely iris-based solution to be more than 1,000 times more accurate than published fingerprint data.” This begs the question, how secure is fingerprint data?

Not all that secure it turns out. In October 2014, a hacker known as Starbug accurately replicated the fingerprint of the German Minister of Defense from nothing other than hi-res images taken of her at an event.

More recently, AVG’s own researchers from the Innovation Lab in Amsterdam developed a set of ‘Invisibility Glasses’ that used specialist materials and technology to successfully counteract facial recognition technology.

We’ve written many times before about the pros and cons of biometric security, from speculating on the future to busting myths.

However for now, it’s clear that if biometric security is really going to become our de-facto method of authentication, we need to make sure it is rigorously tested.