Avast Strengthens Defense Against Ransomware Attacks in its Free and Premium Antivirus Offerings

Ransomware Attacks

Enhanced ransomware protection now available in both Avast Free Antivirus and Avast Premium

Avast (LSE: AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy, has released new versions of its security products to address the recent global surge in coronavirus-related ransomware. Avast has added Ransomware Shield, previously only available on Avast Premium Security, to its popular Avast Free Antivirus, and introduced the brand-new Remote Access Shield for Avast Premium Security.

In recent years, Avast has monitored a rise in attacks specifically designed to exploit Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) in order to execute widespread ransomware attacks. In March 2020, at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, Avast observed a 20% increase in these types of attacks globally. With millions of workers around the world using RDP daily to remotely access their business network, this tool has become a strong cyber-attack vector.

Ransomware Shield for Avast Free Antivirus

To enhance the existing threat detection technology that protects Avast Free Antivirus users from ransomware, Avast has introduced an extra layer that keeps files safe from ransomware and other malicious programs attempting to alter files. Ransomware Shield stops ransomware and other untrusted programs from changing, deleting, or encrypting personal photos and files in protected folders. The feature shields pictures, documents, and other designated folders from unwanted changes, and thereby creates an additional layer of security.

Additional, smaller updates that can now be found as part of Avast Free Antivirus include:

  • Easier USB drive protection – Avast will now ask users to scan USB drives when plugging them into the computer.
  • Better botnet protection – enhanced Web Shield prevents malware from connecting to malicious servers via a user’s device.

Remote Access Shield for Avast Premium Security

To mitigate remote desktop vulnerabilities, Avast has added Remote Access Shield for Avast Premium Security users. The shield protects personal data with the following features:

  • Choose who can remotely access the protected computer: users can now define which specific IP addresses or IP ranges can access their computer, and Avast will block all other IPs. By default, RAS already blocks IPs that don’t seem legitimate.
  • Automatically block any brute-force attacks trying to crack the protected computer’s credentials.
  • Automatically block connections attempting to use Remote Desktop exploits, like BlueKeep, to take control of the protected computer.
  • Automatically block Remote Desktop connections from high-risk IP addresses.

The Remote Access Shield is available in version 20.5 of Avast Premium Security and newer.

Michal Pechoucek, Chief Technology Officer, Avast, said: “Throughout the global lockdown, Avast has been monitoring new and increased threats arising from new ways of working. We have tracked an increase in attacks via RDP, which has become another concern for individuals attempting to go about everyday life via the internet. Everybody has the right to be safe online, which is why we have enhanced our free AV that is used by millions of people around the world with additional layers of protection.”