What are Keyloggers and How AVG Protects You from Them

August 7, 2016 Tips



Nowadays, using computers is not as simple as it used to be even compared to the computer situation a decade ago. The security concerns make billions of PC users worried and there are enough reasons behind their worry. With time, malware aimed at PCs are getting more complex and severe in nature.


Along with individual PC users, large corporations and MNCs are getting exploited by malware of various types and hacking exploits are something celebs have also faced. Along with regular computer virus, keyloggers have emerged as a new threat for users. However, it is possible to detect and eliminate such specialized malware with AVG security software.


What are keyloggers and what threat they pose?


Keyloggers can be described as a stealthy kind of malware that are used to stealing personal information from computer users. Malware creators develop such rogue software that masquerade as regular software and sneak into PCs with lower or compromised security. Thereafter, these apps record keystrokes and thus the card and online banking passwords are captured.


These data are sent to the hackers who then use the data to exploit users. A majority of keyloggers are often bundled with other apps or even email attachments. They are stealthy in nature and many times PC security software cannot detect them.


They can sneak into your PC in a number of ways, such as:

  • As an attachment in a zip file
  • As an email attachment
  • With some adware app
  • With a fake security software bundle


Signs your PC has been affected by keyloggers


After a malware invades your PC and breaches the security level, you can spot certain symptoms. It can vary based on type of malware and its mechanism. When a keylogger sneaks into your PC evading your security software, you can get some symptoms too. While most keyloggers have a stealthy working mechanism, the most commonplace symptoms is your passwords not working or a password protected account is being accessed randomly.


The consequences can actually be quite severe and you may face legal consequences. If the keylogger succeeds in recording keystrokes and steals your card details, the hackers may get access to it. They can misuse your credit and debit card as well as bank accounts. This can have far reaching consequences.


Why use AVG to detect and eliminate keyloggers?


There are plenty of PC security software you can pick from with an aim to keep keyloggers and other type of malware at bay. However, AVG is trusted name in computer security. Billions of PC users have used AVG security products for over a decade now. Nowadays, AVG has products aimed at mobile devices too.


You can use the AVG free antivirus which offers a decent level of protection from malware and there are other words too. AVG also enjoys high ratings from PC security testing labs and the software solutions receive regular updates, thus making the detection of newer malware possible.


Which AVG software to use to detect and remove keyloggers?


The software range offered by AVG has widened over the years for changing user needs and the evolving pattern of malware invasion. Choosing the most salient and stellar AVG solution to keep your PC safe from keyloggers and other online threats can be tedious.


  • AVG Free Antivirus – Students with tight budgets or users who do not want to pay, but want a security solution for their PC often install the free version of AVG Antivirus. It is lightweight and quite user friendly. The software is rated as one of the top free antivirus solutions worldwide. Using it will offer you a decent amount of protection from malware of various types including keyloggers. Its resident shield and link protection can safeguard from downloading attachments or files that may contain a keylogger or virus. However, people who make a lot of online transactions with credit or debit cards may press the button for enhanced security to stave off keyloggers.
  • AVG Antivirus Pro – When you do banking online and make plenty of transactions online, using an enhanced PC security solution is quintessential. The AVG Antivirus Pro fits the bill perfectly. Along with the core antivirus component and link protection it packs in additional features that offer enhanced safety from stealthy malware, including keyloggers. Its ‘Online Shield’, prevents multiple harmful content from being downloaded. This is effective for preventing keyloggers from sneaking in. Once keyloggers make inroads into your PC, finding who they are can be a hurdle. So preventing the entry of such rogue apps is the avenue you want to take. Using its Data Safe technology, you can encrypt important financial information and make the data even more protected.
  • AVG Protection Pro – When you use more than one PC and mobile devices for online banking needs and making purchases online AVG Protection Pro is your best bet to fight keyloggers. This software includes two very useful features – Anti Spam and Firewall. A lot of malware is often passed through spam and unsolicited emails. When your PC is protected with AVG’s spam filter, a plethora of harmful emails cannot make it into your inbox at all. This reduces the risk of keylogger and malware invasion to a magnificent extent. Besides, this version receives priority updates from AVG support. This eventually enhances the chance of catching newer strains of malware including keylogger variants.

Both AVG Antivirus Pro and AVG Protection pro can be tried without any limitation for a period of time before you actually have to make the purchase. Based on the source of the purchase, you may qualify for some discounts.


Considering other Options


Sometimes your AVG security software may fail to detect certain evasive malware such as a keylogger app. When this happens, you should seek tech support. AVG tech support may be able to help you pinpoint and remove the keylogger from the affected PC.


Another option is to secure the service from different PC security software. You will find a number of vendors offering in depth, cloud based online PC scan services. One of these may be able to locate that rogue keylogger hiding in the core of your OS in your laptop or desktop. If that is possible, that software will eradicate them.

Reinstalling AVG Antivirus on a Newly Formatted Machine

August 7, 2016 How to, Tips



Using an antivirus in desktop or laptop computers is a prerequisite and it is more relevant for computers running Windows OS versions. There are so many antivirus apps one can pick from but AVG is a popular choice. AVG antivirus comes in many versions, including Internet Security, paid and free antivirus, etc.


Most versions of AVG software are liked by computer users for factors such as ease of use, astute malware detection, low system load etc. With time, the company has made a foray into Mac and mobile security as well.


Reinstalling AVG Software on PCs


Using AVG software like Antivirus or Internet Security definitely helps in safeguarding your computer from various offline and web based malware and threats. However, it may be necessary to uninstall and reinstall the AVG security software sometimes.


Why you may need to reinstall AVG security software:


  • This can be caused by a malware invasion which forced you to format the HDD. Naturally, when the HDD is formatted everything is erased and OS and all software need to be reinstalled. Sometimes, persistent and stealthy malware may evade AVG and make OS level damage, leading to a format and subsequent reinstall.
  • Sometimes, the AVG software installed in your desktop or laptop may become corrupted after core files are mistakenly deleted by other users. This can be done inadvertently by a teen user who may not be aware of the consequences. Sometimes, uninstall cannot be done even by using third party uninstallers and users are forced to reinstall the software after performing a format.
  • A hardware failure may also lead to reinstallation AVG security software. If your PC’s hard disk fails after prolonged wear and tear, you will have to use a new HDD and install an OS and AVG software thereafter.


Reinstalling AVG on a formatted PC is not cumbersome but the process can be a little different based on your situation. Not every user has the same version or type of AVG software.


Using the Right Software


AVG security software comes in many versions. There are free version and paid versions available and some people also use AVG Internet Security. If you want to reinstall AVG post formatting the HDD, pick the software that you had been using before. People who have more than one PC often use AVG Protection which comes with a Zen dashboard.


Re-installing AVG Free Software


A majority of AVG users flip the switch for the free antivirus software. The software is effective against most malware and also offers a layer of security from diverse online threats. Some advanced features are not available in the free version like spam protection, but it serves the need for home users pretty well. Reinstalling the free AVG antivirus is quite simple.


After formatting the installing the desired OS, you need to head to the AVG website. The url is http://free.avg.com/ww-en/homepage. From here, you can download the software and install it on the PC. You will get the latest software version this way. There is no need to use any CD or DVD as such.


Methods for Re-installing AVG (Commercial) Security Software


There are basically two methods for reinstalling AVG security software after formatting the HDD.


  • If you have the AVG installation disc, use it for reinstalling the software after you have installed the OS. Pop in the installation disc in optical drive slot of your PC and it will auto run. If Auto run fails to start or is disabled at the system level, click on the installable Exe file to begin installation. Proceed through the step by step wizard to wrap up the process. It does not take a long time in most cases.
  • If you do not have installation media, head to the AVG website and download the apt software type (such as AVG antivirus of Ultimate protection) and install it. You can find the apt software version at the AVG download center (http://www.avg.com/ww-en/download). After download is complete, run the setup to complete the installation.


Activating the Software Post Reinstallation


Whether you do a new installation or reinstallation of any AVG security software, it becomes necessary to register it online. Usually, this is done after the software installation is complete. Your PC needs to be connected to the Internet for the registration to be successful.


This can be done either from the AVG interface or by going to AVG website. Users need to browse country specific AVG website if they do it from web browser directly. For example, those users in South Africa should use the link https://www.avgsa.co.za/register-your-licence/ for product registration online.


The software will calculate the remaining days of usage available for your license. You will have to enter the license number, during online registration. It is a simple process and should not take more than a few minutes.


What If You Do Not Have The Disc And License Key?


In some cases, you may lose the installation disc and worry about not being able to use the bought license key! If you had purchased a legal copy, there is nothing to worry and you will still be able to enjoy the remaining eligible days of protection. AVG can send you the same license key you had used during registration for the first time. They will need the email-id you had used for registration earlier and the license key will be sent to that id.


You need to browse this link http://www.avg.com/ww-en/license-retrieval. At the web page, you need to provide the email id used for first registration and type a displayed verification code. After that, the license key will be emailed to you. Using it, you can complete the AVG software registration. Thereafter, the software upgrade can be done, if a new version is available.


Both the procedures are simple and do not require much time. However, if you are still not sure, you can get in touch with the AVG support online. You will also come across a number of online video tutorials to guide users on this.

How to Enhance PC Performance with AVG Antivirus

August 7, 2016 Tips



AVG Antivirus is one of the most sought after free antivirus software among computer users across the globe. The software comes with a wide range of fantastic features that it becomes the ideal choice for users.


The antivirus program offers excellent flexibility and affordability with its unique features. AVG Antivirus protects your personal computer and other devices from viruses, spywares, malware, and other things to enhance their performance.


AVG Protection to Boost Your PC Performance


AVG Antivirus provides advanced security to give you the best protection for your PC. It comes with a wide range of features and tools in a simple design to protect your computer without affecting its performance. Here is a look at how AVG Antivirus works to enhance PC performance.


Keeps PC safe with the most effective virus protection tool – Antivirus software is a critical component that helps in boosting your computer system’s efficiency. When you buy a new PC, a virus removal tool is likely to be pre-installed, but it is a sagacious idea to replace it with AVG for more effective and golden protection.


AVG Antivirus helps in stopping, removing, and preventing the spread of viruses, Trojans, and worms. These can affect your computer system’s performance, but AVG will eliminate them to ensure you have outstanding performance at all times.


Provides regular updates to improve computer efficiency – As you know, software that is installed in computers require regular updates as there are always advancements made and new versions are always created. With updates, you incorporate new advanced features and fix bugs present in the older version.  These actions heighten and improve PC performance.


Viruses and malware develop as antivirus software progress. Such viruses keep up with the latest technology, which allows them to infiltrate the computer system. This means that when you use outdated software, it serves as a gateway for these viruses, which in turn affects your system’s performance and can compromise your security.


AVG Antivirus offers regular real-time updates and will ask you to scan your PC regularly. You should never neglect these updates since they will help keep your system up to date and free from viruses.


Provides innovative technologies to enhance operational capabilities without compromising security – AVG is an antivirus solution that uses innovative technologies that help in minimizing impact on the computer system’s resources. This means that its technologies preserve more of your PC’s performance while delivering impeccable protection against Internet threats and malicious software.


AVG offers advanced features such as link protection, enhanced firewall, Protective Cloud Technology, Social Networking Protection, and much more to ensure that your PC performance is improved while giving you unmatched protection from all types of threats.


When it comes to protecting your PC while enhancing its performance, AVG Antivirus software is the best choice. It provided innovative and cutting-edge technology to give you features that benefit your computer system in more ways than one. To make sure that your system is completely protected against viruses, spyware, malware, Internet threats, and other malicious software, there is nothing that works as well as AVG Antivirus software.

What are Phishing Scams and how does AVG Prevent Them?

June 22, 2016 Tips




You have probably heard the term ‘phishing’ a lot, but what exactly is it? Phishing is the act of sending an email under false pretenses, claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise to attempt at scamming the user into divulging private information that will be used for identity theft.


Typically, phishing emails will direct the user to a website where they are asked to update personal details such as passwords and social security, bank account or credit card numbers, that is already with a legitimate organization. However, the website is a bogus one and will capture and steal any information entered on the page by the user.


Common Types of Phishing


Phishing scams vary widely in terms of the quality of the forgery, the complexity as well as the objective of the attacker. There has been an emergence of several distinct types of phishing:

  • Spear Phishing – Phishing attacks that are directed at specific organizations, individuals or roles are also known as “spear phishing”. Due to the fact that these sorts of attacks are very pointed, it is likely that attackers will go to marvelous lengths to collect specific institutional or personal information so that the attack is more believable and increase the chances of its success.

The best defense against attacks such as spear phishing is to ensure that you carefully and securely discard information that phishers could use in such an attack, i.e. with the use of a crosscut shredder. Furthermore, you should be aware of data that may be relatively easy to obtain, e.g. your title at work, where you bank or your favorite places, and think before you act on seemingly random requests via phone or email.


  • Whaling – “Whaling” is a term that is used to define phishing attacks or spear phishing, which are mainly directed in specific at managers, CEOs, and other such high profile targets in a public agency, business, or other organization.


How Common is Phishing Today?


According to a 2014 global study released by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), it is suggested that 54% of phishing emails targeted major brands including PayPal, Apple, and Chinese marketplace Taobao.


This indicates that the people behind phishing scams update their approaches and look out for new victims in segments of niche industries. While there were millions of phishing URLs reported in 2014, there was a minimum of 123,972 unique phishing attacks all over the world in the second half of that year.


Why are Scammers Successful with Phishing?


Phishing emails are blindly sent to recipients by the thousands, if not millions. When large groups of people are scammed, the “phisher” counts on the likelihood that the email will be read by a percentage of people who have an actual account with the legitimate company who are being spoofed in the email and corresponding webpage.


Also referred to as carding and brand spoofing, Phishing is a variation on “fishing,” with the idea that the bait is thrown out with the hopes that although a large percentage of people will ignore the bait, there will be some that are tempted into biting.


What do Phishing Emails Look Like?


There are many ways to identify a phishing email:


  • Spelling and Bad Grammar – One of the first things you will notice in a phishing email is the incorrect spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for these things (they are immoral as well but that is another topic). Legitimate professional companies or organizations will typically have a staff of copy editors that will make sure that a mass email with heavy grammatical and spelling mistakes are not sent to its users. If you notice a lot of errors in an email, chances are that it is a scam.
  • Links in an email – If you see a link in a suspicious email, make sure that you do not click on it. Rest your mouse, without clicking, to check if the address and the link in the message match. If it does not, it is a definite sign that it is a scam.
  • Spoofing popular companies or websites – Scam artists use graphics that look like they are connected to legitimate companies or websites, but when you click on them, they actually take you to pop-up windows or phony scam sites.

How does AVG Protect against Phishing?


There is good news for everyone – every solution in AVG’s product portfolio has the ability to detect and protect against phishing. When it comes to a prolific defense, the next step is to educate business clients. AVG has a LinkScanner which is a security feature available in every AG Business product, including AVG AntiVirus, AVG CloudCare, Internet Security Business Editions, and AVG Managed Workplace.


In order to protect against phishing, this innovative feature checks website pages in real time before they can be opened on browsers and display alerts immediately to help in eliminating click-throughs to web pages that are compromised.


The cutting-edge technology that powers this feature takes a multi-layered approach to identify and stop phishing emails.

  • First, the web is continuously scanned in order to identify “phishy” mailers or websites that link to these emails.
  • Next, the websites are analyzed and compared with legitimate websites. In this process, unique characteristics in the way web pages are coded so that it can be identified if it is a phishing site. The process is like taking the phishing website’s “fingerprint.”
  • Then, those “fingerprints” are added automatically to the virus database of the AVG software so that the phishing website and other sites that use similar or the same code can be identified.
  • AVG monitors any web links that you click and then prevents phishing pages from loading. You then receive a displayed message that alerts you to the danger.

It is critical to protect yourself against phishing scams, and having AVG in your system is one of the best ways to do this. With its effective anti-phishing technology, you can make sure that you do not fall victim to these scams, which in many cases, can have a devastating impact on your life. Get AVG software and grab the ultimate security.


How Hackers Are Exploiting BITS – And What to Do About it

June 19, 2016 Tips


Removing malware from your PC can be very difficult. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have found a new way to make the job even harder. Savvy hackers are exploiting the Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to reinstall malware that has already been cleaned.


How Are Hackers Exploiting BITS?

BITS was released with Windows 2000 and has been used in subsequent versions of Windows. It manages file transfers between client and server machines.
Microsoft probably never anticipated that BITS could open the door for serious security threats, but hackers have been exploiting it for nearly a decade. Last month, a team of specialists from SecureWorks discovered that hackers have gone a step further and started using BITS to reinfect machines with malware.


These are attacks are very stealthy, because the malware is automatically deleted after it runs. This gives hackers two advantages:
•    Users may never know that malware has been installed, which means they can’t take other important precautions (such as monitoring their financial records for suspicious activity).
•    Hackers can launch the malicious software from BITS, even if it has already been removed.
This isn’t the first time hackers have exploited the BITS component to coordinate attacks. In 2007, Arstechnica published a post discussing hackers using it to download malware. Elia Florio, a writer with the Symantec Security Response Weblog, also pointed out that this was a serious security risk:
“Why does malware use BITS for downloading files? For one simple reason: BITS service is part of the operating system, so it’s trusted and bypasses the local firewall while downloading files. Malwares need to bypass local firewalls, but usually the most common methods found in real samples are intrusive, require process injection or may raise suspicious alarms.”
The new exploit is even more sophisticated. SecureWorks said that attackers were using BITS to operate the cached application, which means that the malware can continue to run even after it has been removed.
The rogue application can be difficult to trace without looking at the BITS history. The program would delete itself from the machine, so malware detection software would never discover it.


How to Address This Risk

The new research from SecureWorks shows that deleting malware alone isn’t enough to clean the machine. Users also may also need to access BITS to remove any additional traces of the virus.
The researchers provided some useful feedback to help system administrators remedy the problem.
“One way to enumerate these tasks is to execute the bitsadmin client from a cmd.exe session with elevated privileges (bitsadmin /list /allusers /verbose)” SecureWorks wrote.


How to Find Out if Your PC is Infected by a Keylogger

November 22, 2015 Tips



Hackers use a number of tools to snoop on their victims. Among the most sinister tools in their arsenal are keyloggers.  A keylogger is a form of malware that records the victim’s keystrokes, which allows the hacker to capture passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive data. Most keyloggers are software programs, but some are USBs or other pieces of hardware.


Keyloggers pose a serious security threat. In 2013, a group of hackers used the Pony keylogger program to steal passwords from over two million people. Some experts believe that up to 70% of the world’s computers are infected by them.

You need to recognize the telltale signs of a keylogger and have it removed right away.



Signs that You May Have a Keylogger on Your Machine

 Keyloggers are very stealthy malware applications, but they can be detected if you know what to look for. Here are some signs that your PC or smartphone may be infected.


Odd Images and Popups


Most keyloggers don’t leave obvious red flags, but some will cause popups or odd images to appear in your browser windows. While these can be symptoms of other forms of malware, you will want to investigate carefully, because they are sometimes caused by keylogger applications. If you are using Kaspersky, then it may identify the suspicious activity as a keylogger. However, it is difficult to know for sure without further evaluation, so always run a keylogger detection tool as listed below.


Sluggish Performance

The memory and bandwidth that keyloggers consume varies by developer. Some use about 16 megabytes of memory, while others over 10 times that. Depending on the memory they consume, they cause slow system performance. Of course, slow processing speeds could be caused by any type of malware. However, if it is caused by a keylogger then your passwords and other sensitive data could already be compromised. You will want to investigate and change your passwords if a keylogger is discovered.


Keylogger Processes Listed in Your Task Manager

Some keyloggers can be identified in Windows Task Manager. You may be able to end the keylogger by terminating the process, but most keyloggers are more difficult to get rid of than that. Most won’t show up in the Task Manager at all, but it is at least a good place to start.

It can be difficult to tell if a program is a keylogger if you don’t know what to look for. You will want to compare some of the running processes to those listed on Liutilities. Here is a partial list of processes of known keyloggers that can show up in Task Manager:

  • k2admin.exe
  • k7tsmngr.exe
  • keytool.exe
  • k7tsecurity.exe

If you identify any of these programs, then you’ll need to clean your registry and have them removed.


Run Keylogger Detection Software

The most advanced keyloggers are undetectable by most anti-malware tools. You may need  to run a specialized application to detect keyloggers, such as Keylogger Detector by Blazing Tools. You can purchase a license for a single machine for less than $20 and usually get discounts for buying additional licenses. These applications are easy to run and can detect almost all known keyloggers. However, it is important to regularly check for new updates in case new keyloggers were developed since your keylogger detector was installed.


Suspicious Hardware Devices

Most keyloggers are software applications, but some are actually pieces of hardware. They are genuinely USBs, so you will need to remove any unusual devices that are plugged into your machine. These aren’t detectable by any malware detection tool since they are hardware devices, so you’ll to carefully look for them around your keyboard or the back of your machine. 



Be Diligent About Looking for Keyloggers


Keyloggers are very dangerous applications that allow hackers to steal your most private information. They have infected millions of people’s machines in recent years, which has led to social media accounts being hacked and credit card fraud. Monitor your devices carefully and change your passwords immediately if you think that you have been infected.   


Photo Credit Robbert van der Steeg

Lessons Learned from CIA Email Security Breach

November 3, 2015 Tips



Cyber security threats have become a major concern in the wake of recent scandals, such as hackers stealing data from Target and Ashley Madison. A more recent scandal paints an even clearer picture of the security vulnerabilities people face if they are careless with their personal information. CIA Director John Brennan recently acknowledged that his personal email was hacked by a 13 year old boy!


We should all pay attention to the lessons from this case. Most people understand the importance of updating their malware protection software, but few people are aware of the dangers of social engineering. They should be aware of the mistakes that Brennan and other technicians made along the way.



CIA Director Acknowledges Breach


Brennan took a few days to respond after his Yahoo email account was hacked. He was understandably perturbed when he finally made a statement.


 “What it does is to underscore just how vulnerable people are to those who want to cause harm and the social engineering that goes on and the manipulation of the system allows individuals to carry our criminal activities against US citizens,” Brennan said.


He is absolutely right. This case proves how vulnerable we are from black hat hackers and cyberterrorists. Fortunately, there are a number of precautions that people can take to keep their data secure, provided they are aware of the threats of social engineering.



How the Security Breach Took Place


Most people were dismayed when they logged onto Twitter and found an anonymous teenager admitting to having hacked the email account of the direct of the CIA. Was the story true? How could a middle schooler have possibly pulled that off?


The confession was eventually confirmed and the details of the crime were unveiled. The perpetrator learned Brennan’s phone number and phone provider. He called Verizon pretending to be a technician to get details from the account, which included Brennan’s email address and personal information that helped him reset the password through AOL.



What Can We Learn from This Case?


One of the good things about high profile cases like this is that they give the rest of us the chance to learn about security vulnerabilities. Here are some lessons that we should learn.



1. Choose Security Questions Only You Will Know the Answers to.


We all forget our passwords from time to time. That is why email providers and other web services give us the option to reset them. You generally need to answer security questions to reset this information. Make sure that the security questions are something that strangers won’t be able to find the answer to.


If you have the option to choose questions, try to avoid things like “your mother’s maiden name” or “the city you grew up in.” These details can easily be found through Facebook. The name of your first girlfriend or first childhood pet is probably going to be a lot more difficult for a hacker to figure out.



2.Use Services that Require Pin Verification


Many email providers today require PIN verification to reset passwords. You should use these services over other email providers, because a hacker won’t be able to reset the password unless they have access to your phone.



3. Be Careful With Sharing ANY Information


You need to always be cautious about sharing personal information. Brennan’s case shows how easy it is for a hacker to gain access to your emails by merely having your phone number. Unfortunately, many people aren’t nearly as cautious about protecting their phone number as they are their Social Security Number and other sensitive information, but this case shows how easy it is for hackers to discover more information about you with these details.


4. Don’t Store Sensitive Information on Email


Brennan stored a number of sensitive documents on his personal server, which were later published on Wikileaks after the system was hacked. This is probably the most important thing that you can learn from this case. Email servers are always vulnerable to penetration. Never store information that you wouldn’t want a hacker to get a hold of.


 Photo Credit zodman