Avast Security Launches in U.S. With Free PC, Mac Versions

Avast is Europe's top-selling personal security software, and it is now making its formal debut in the United States.


Let's face it: When it comes to personal device and network security, most people are simply lazy. Even though they regularly see news about security breaches compromising major retailers and corporations, they often figure that a hacker won't bother with them and that using simple--or even no--passwords on their phones and networks is "good enough."

Well, when a breach does hit them, their minds get changed pretty quickly.

There are plenty of well-known companies with familiar names such as Symantec Norton, McAfee, AVG and Kaspersky--to name four of the market leaders--that want to sell you security products that are both secure and easy to use. We may now add a relatively new one to that list: Avast Internet Security.

Avast is Europe's top-selling brand, and it made its formal debut in the United States on Oct. 22. Avast Internet Security is the Prague-based company's next-generation security suite, and includes all the things it should include: an antivirus engine, firewall, browsing protection, a software updater, browser cleanup tool and others.

Here's the kicker: It's free for home use. Yes, free.

This is, of course, a large reason why Avast's earlier PC and Mac versions already are used by more than 175 million people worldwide, CEO Vince Steckler, a former Symantec executive, told eWEEK. And what better way to introduce yourself into a new market than with a freemium product?

Avast does have other versions with paid-for features, but they all come with what Steckler described as "the only home-network security tool designed to address the very real threat of hijacked home networks."

Those additional features and enhancements include DNS-hijacking prevention, HTTPS scanning, reduced in-product messaging or popups, a simplified and more fun user experience, and faster software updates to improve performance and deliver greater privacy and security.

"Security risks have expanded out from the PC to the home network because more devices than ever connect to the Internet via home routers. As a result, home networks have become the hub of personal computing," Steckler told a group of analysts and journalists at a launch event in San Francisco. "Our research determined that nearly 80 percent of all home routers in use today are thinly protected by common, easily hacked passwords, making routers an easy entry point to the home network for hackers.

"Avast 2015 addresses these issues head-on with several important new features."

Surveying more than 2,000 households in the United States, Avast found that 88 percent of respondents would be extremely uncomfortable if they found out a neighbor or uninvited guest were secretly logging onto their personal home Wi-Fi network. Yet a high number of users do not take the precautions necessary to secure their home networks.

In fact, 11 percent reported that they have themselves used a neighbor's Wi-Fi network without the neighbor's knowledge or permission.

Amazingly, 14 percent of respondents said they didn't know if they use a solution to protect their home network, and 12 percent are certain they don't use one. The survey identified a host of other unsecure behaviors, including:

--17 percent of respondents use the same username and password for their router as they do for their password-protected Websites;
--23 percent use the default password on their router and another 11 percent aren't sure if they use the default password; and
--20 percent of all respondents use some of the most basic passwords, including their address, name, phone number, a significant other's birthday, child's name, pet's name or their street name as part of their password.

These facts are already well known within the security software and services sector, and it's a major reason why users need to spend more time on their security.

Avast 2015 package for PCs is available in four consumer variations: Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Pro Antivirus, Avast Internet Security and Avast Premier—and in 45 languages. Avast Mac Security is also free and will include the Home Network Security scan and SecureDNS features as of the first quarter of 2015.

Twenty-five-year-old Avast also provides world-class protection for businesses and mobile devices, Steckler said.

Go here to download the software.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...