Tag Archives: Wi-Fi security

How To Stop Larry From Hacking Your WiFi in 2017

It’s 2017, and we’re not any further along with Wi-Fi security than we were 10 years ago. There are Intrusion Detection Systems and 2nd generation antivirus apps to protect us from some vulnerabilities but the simple fact that some people and businesses still don’t set their network up well in the first place.

Installing WiFi is like running Ethernet to your parking lot. It’s a cliche thing

MIT Researchers Solve the Spectrum Crunch to make Wi-Fi 10 times Faster

While using your cell phone at a massive public event, like a concert, conference, or sporting event, you have probably experienced slow communication, poor performance or slow browsing speeds, as crowds arrive.

That’s because of ‘Spectrum Crunch’, which means, Interference of WiFi signals with each other.

WiFi signals of all cell-phones in a large event interfere with each other because

Microsoft removes its controversial Windows 10 Wi-Fi Sense Password Sharing Feature

Microsoft has finally decided to remove one of its controversial features Wi-Fi Sense network sharing feature from Windows 10 that shares your WiFi password with your Facebook, Skype and Outlook friends and enabled by default.

With the launch of Windows 10 last year, Microsoft introduced Wi-Fi Sense network sharing feature aimed at making it easy to share your password-protected WiFi network

Opera Browser Now Offers Free and Unlimited Built-in VPN Service

In Brief
Opera becomes the first web browser to offer a built-in Free, unlimited and 256-bit encrypted VPN service for everyone.

Opera’s Free VPN protects unencrypted browser session from leaking on public WiFi networks and will also let unblock firewalls to improve privacy and security.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become an important tool not just for large companies, but also

Can my mobile phone be attacked by malware?

Mobile malware is a growing threat.

Banking, shopping, email. We do things on our phones that used to only be done on our desktop PC. Hackers know valuable data is stored on people’s phones, and they increasingly find new ways to attack mobile users.


These devices have information on them that is valuable to hackers

The most common mobile threats are adware packaged as fun gaming apps that provide little value and spams users with ads. SMS attacks are malware which sends unauthorized premium SMS or makes premium-service phone calls. This results in a large monthly bill for the user and a significant source of revenue for cybercrooks.

The most aggressive malware is mobile ransomware. Simplocker was the first Android ransomware to encrypt user files, and now there are thousands of variations that make it nearly impossible to recover the encrypted data on a smartphone.

Privacy is an issue with vulnerabilities such as Certifi-gate and Stagefright, both of which can be exploited to spy on users. Certifi-gate put approximately 50 percent of Android users at risk, and Stagefright made nearly 1 billion Android devices vulnerable to spyware.

Avast protects mobile devices from malware

Avast Mobile Security for Android scans mobile devices and secures them against infected files, phishing, malware, and spyware.  The app provides people with the most advanced mobile malware protection available, now even faster with Avast’s leading cloud scanning engine. Install Avast Mobile Security for free!

Avast protects from unsecure Wi-Fi networks

Because cybercrooks take advantage of unsecure routers and Wi-Fi hotspots, we added Wi-Fi Security which notifies the user when connecting to an unsecure router. The user quickly identifies the security level of Wi-Fi hotspots and can evaluate the risks and decide whether to disconnect or use a VPN instead.

Avast protects user privacy

Privacy concerns range from permission-hungry apps to nosy children. Avast Mobile Security’s Privacy Advisor informs the user about what data apps have access to and ad networks included within apps. To defend their personal data against prying eyes, users can now lock an unlimited number of apps on their device using the App Locking feature.

Avast Mobile Security is available for free in the Google Play Store.

Visit Avast at Mobile World Congress

If you are attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 22 – 25, please visit Avast to see the app in hall 8.1, booth H65.

France will not Ban Public Wi-Fi Or Tor Network, Prime Minister Valls Confirms

Despite the French Ministry of Interior’s demands, France will not ban the TOR anonymity network or Free public Wi-Fi as a way to help the law enforcement fight terrorism.

French Prime Minister Manual Valls has gone on record saying that a ban on Free public Wi-Fi is “not a course of action envisaged,” and he is not in favor of banning the TOR anonymity network, either.

Following the

5 things you can do to boost your Wi-Fi network

laptop and routers

Where you place your router can make a big difference in signal strength.

Where you physically place your router makes a difference – not only to the signal, but to your security.

Think of your router like you would a cordless phone’s base. If you wander too far away from the base station, your call may drop or have static interference. If your wireless devices, like your laptop, are out of your router’s range, then your connection speed can slow down to an annoying crawl or your connection may drop.

Generally, a Wi-Fi router should work well for about 100 ft (30m) in every direction. If your walls are thin or your router is placed in the wrong location, you could be helping a thief steal your bandwidth.

Here are 5 things you can do to optimize your reception and reduce the chance of your neighbor piggy backing on your signal:

  1. 1. Place your router in a central location. For the optimal coverage, place the router in the middle of the desired coverage area. Think about all the devices you are using along with their location, and place the router at a mid-point and as high as possible so the signal gets dispersed throughout the area.
  2. 2. Avoid walls, ceilings or shelves. If the signal has to go around corners, or through walls, ceilings or shelves, then it will have a hard time getting to your device. Insulated walls, or ones made of brick or concrete can impede the signal. Even fish tanks (it’s the water that’s the problem) and mirrors can have an effect.
  3. 3. Place appliances far away from the router. Appliances operate on the same frequency as routers, so avoid placing the router close to cordless phones, microwaves, or TVs.
  4. 4. Name your Wi-Fi something alarming. Follow the trend to rename your Wi-Fi network to something that will potentially scare would-be thieves from mooching off your Wi-Fi connection. The name “FBI Surveillance Van” was popular a few years ago, or use my favorite c:virus.exe.
  5. Better yet – set up a password for your network with WPA2 encryption. Read more about securing your router from 12 ways to boost your router’s security.
  6. 5. Put up Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper. Decorate your room and block your Wi-Fi signal at the same time. MetaPaper is wallpaper that helps businesses and home users improve the security of their data and protect their Wi-Fi networks from intruders. Re-setting your password is definitely cheaper, but this is a clever innovation especially for business owners concerned about their data security.


Avast Home Network Security scans a user’s home network and routers for potential security issues that could allow a hacker attack. The scan looks for misconfigured Wi-Fi networks, exposes weak or default Wi-Fi passwords, vulnerable routers, compromised Internet connections, and enabled, but not protected, IPv6. It also lists all devices on the network so you can make sure only your known devices are connected.

To run a scan on your home network, open the Avast user interface and click on Scan>Scan for network threats. If Avast finds a vulnerability it will guide you on how to fix it.

Behind the Scenes of Avast’s Global Wi-Fi Hack Experiment: How we collected and analyzed Wi-Fi data

Wi-Fi and encryption


Data transmitted over a wireless network can be either unencrypted or encrypted. While both options are available to users, the use of open, unprotected Wi-Fi networks has become increasingly popular across the globe. In the case of open wireless networks, the transmitted data are unencrypted and might be visible to others, as is shown in the screenshot below. To resolve this issue, many wireless networks use password protection. However, the method and strength of these passwords matter: if a weak encryption method, such as WEP, is used, an attacker can simply crack the password and decrypt the device’s communication. Hence, the use of a strong encryption such as WPA/WPA2 is suggested. The length of a password is another important factor to its strength — a strongly encrypted communication with a short key length can still be cracked by hackers within a short amount of time. Because of this, a key length of longer than 8 characters is strongly recommended.


(Figure 1: List of available wireless networks featuring both encrypted and unencrypted options.)




In February, we sent several volunteers to 9 cities: Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Barcelona, London, Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul. Our goal was to gather as much information about the use of wireless networks in these cities as possible.


Each volunteer was equipped with a laptop and a WiFi adapter with ability to be switched into monitor mode. This feature allowed us to listen to all wireless communication — even that which wasn’t targeted to our device. This way, we could listen to the data transmitted between the access point and devices receiving it.


(Figure 2: Laptop and Wi-Fi adapter hidden in the bag. )


Each volunteer walked around a city with an adapter tucked away in his or her bag that constantly listened in on nearby wireless communication.


For this experiment, we developed our own application called Trafi Canal, which was based on the free tool Microsoft Network Monitor. This application logged interesting wireless communication data and stored it for later statistical analysis.


(Figure 3: Avast’s traffic analyzing application, Trafi Canal)


This application monitored the wireless traffic at 2.4 GHz frequency and logged the identifiers of hotspots, identifier addresses of devices connected to the hotspots, sources and targets of the communication, and GPS coordinates.



The German capital was one of the destinations in our experiment that yielded impressive results. Our volunteer spent one full day walking around the city collecting data.


(Figure 4: Monitoring in front of German Bundestag, Berlin. The Wi-Fi adapter can be seen on the left of the laptop.)


Throughout the day, the Trafi Canal app collected GPS coordinates of our volunteer’s movements. The map below shows the extensive route he took around Berlin’s city center.


(Figure 5: Walking coordinates in Berlin)


Throughout the day, our volunteer encountered more than 8,500 hotspots and came into contact with more than 23,000 devices. If you think our data collected in Berlin is large, imagine the total number of hotspots and devices we encountered throughout all of the 9 metropolitan areas that we visited!




After collecting the data in each of the cities, we wrote a script to automatically analyze and process the acquired data. We focused on the most popular channels that hotspots use: encryption types, mostly typical SSIDs, and analysis of communication.




Although there are 14 channels in 2.4 GHz, not all of them are commonly used for communication. To avoid interferences in Wi-Fi networks, channels 1, 6 or 11 are recommended; however, not everyone follows that recommendation. To give you a better idea of the channels’ usage, here’s how it looks with Wi-Fi channels in the center of Berlin:

Channel 1 16%
Channel 2 9%
Channel 6 11%
Channel 11 13%
Channel 13 8%


In addition to hotspots’ channel usage, it’s also interesting to note that while slightly less than one half of hotspots (48%) are encrypted with strong WPA encryption, 3% use weak WEP encryption, and the remaining 26% have no encryption at all. In Berlin, we encountered a total of 8,731 hotspots, 42% of which had devices connected to them. We observed 5% of users communicating — 11% used unencrypted HTTP communication and another 21% encrypted HTTPS communication.


Each hotspot has a unique identifier (BSSID) and a name (SSID). As you might already know, Wi-Fi hotspot names are not unique and are often repeated (e.g. “Free Wi-Fi”). However, not all hotspots broadcast their names (SSID). In Berlin, in 11% of hotspots’ SSIDs are not broadcasted whatsoever.


Most typical hotspot names we encountered.

KD WLAN Hotspot+ 2.40%
HolidayInnExpress 1.48%
Telekom 1.07%
eduroam 0.72%
dlink 0.71%
FRITZ!Box 6360 Cable 0.70%
FRITZ!Box 7362 SL 0.65%
HU-VPN 0.62%
HU-VoIP 0.61%
HotelNET 0.58%


The 5 most visited domains in Berlin are Google, Amazon, Facebook, Akamai and Yahoo:

.1e100.net (Google) 45%
.amazonaws.com 13%
.facebook.com 13%
.akamaitechnologies.com 9%
.yahoo.com 7%


The most popular device manufacturers of connected users were:

Apple 31%
Intel Corporate 8%
Samsung Electronics Co.,Ltd 5%
LG Electronics 3%
Sony Mobile Communications AB 3%


Additional results


The process of collecting data was similar in all the cities we visited. For the brevity of this report, we will summarize the rest of our findings in the following table:



  • While users in Asia were most likely to join open networks, Europeans and Americans were slightly less so.
  • A significant portion of mobile users browse primarily on unsecured HTTP sites.
  • Nearly one half of the Web traffic in Asia takes place on unprotected HTTP sites, compared with one third in the U.S. and roughly one quarter in Europe.
  • San Francisco and Berlin had the lowest percentage of weakly encrypted hotspots, compared to more than half of hotspots in London and New York and nearly three quarters in Asia.




The data transferred via unencrypted HTTP traffic are transmitted in plain text and may be visible to potential hackers. If a user uses SSL, we cannot read the data which are being transmitted, but we can still determine the domain the user is accessing. For example, we could see that that a user is visiting an email provider, but we cannot decrypt the actual data he or she transmits on the provider.


If user uses a VPN, an attacker is only capable of viewing the encrypted traffic from his or her computer to the VPN server The attacker doesn’t know which websites the user visits nor the content he or she transmits. Due to the fact that the installation and configuration of a virtual private network can be difficult for the average user, Avast offers an easy-to-use VPN solution called Avast SecureLine VPN.




The Wi-Fi hack experiment was conducted by the following people:

 Antonín Hýža, Jaromír Hořejší, Jerry Khan, Chun Lin Tu, Alex Grimaldo


New Avast SecureMe app protects iOS and Android users from Wi-Fi Hacking

Avast mobile security experts launched a new app today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Avast booth at MWC15

Avast launches SecureMe app for iOS and Android at Mobile World Congress 2015

Avast SecureMe is the world’s first application that gives iPhone and iPad users a tool to protect their devices and personal data when they connect to Wi-Fi networks. The free app automatically locates Wi-Fi networks and tells users which of them are safe. Since many users connect without knowing the status of the Wi-Fi network – whether it’s protected or not – Avast SecureMe will create a secure connection in order to keep them safe.

“Public Wi-Fi and unsecured routers have become prime targets for hackers, which presents new risks for smartphones and tablets – even iOS devices aren’t immune,” said Jude McColgan, President of Mobile at Avast.

Avast SecureMe will be available in a invitation-only public beta test within the next few weeks. Check back on our blog, Facebook, and Google+ for more information on signing up coming soon.

The app notifies you if it finds security issues

Avast SecureMe includes a feature called Wi-Fi Security. (This feature is also available for Android users within the Avast Mobile Security app available on Google Play.) People who use open Wi-Fi in public areas such as airports, hotels, or cafes will find this helpful. This feature’s job is to scan Wi-Fi connections and notify you if it finds any security issues including routers with weak passwords, unsecured wireless networks, and routers with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

“Avast SecureMe and Avast Mobile Security offer users a simple, one-touch solution to find and choose safe networks to protect themselves from the threat of stolen personal data,” said McColgan.

What’s the risk that my personal data will be stolen?

If you use unsecured Wi-Fi when you log in to a banking site, for example, thieves can capture your log in credentials which can lead to identify theft. On unprotected Wi-Fi networks, thieves can also easily see emails, browsing history, and personal data if you do not use a secure or encrypted connection like a virtual private network (VPN). See our global Wi-Fi hacking experiment to see how widespread the threat really is.

Avast SecureMe checks the security of Wi-Fi networks.
Avast SecureMe notifies you of security problems.
Avast SecureMe is a simple way to find and choose safe networks.

The SecureMe app includes a VPN to protect your privacy

Avast SecureMe features a VPN to secure your connections while you conduct online tasks you want to remain private, especially checking emails, doing your online banking, and even visiting your favorite social network sites. Avast SecureMe automatically connects to the secure VPN when it detects that you have connected to a public Wi-Fi making all transferred data invisible to prying eyes. For convenience, you can disable the protection for Wi-Fi connections you trust, like your home network.

Avast SecureMe for iOS will be available soon in the iTunes Store. Before it’s widespread release, we will conduct an invitation-only public beta test, so check back on our blog, Facebook, and Google+ for more information on signing up.

The Wi-Fi Security feature is now also included in the Avast Mobile Security app for Android, available on Google Play.