Avast! Free Antivirus
|Developer(s)||AVAST Software a.s. (formerly ALWIL Software a.s.)|
|Stable release||2014.9.0.2008 / 4 November 2013|
|Operating system||Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/Windows 8 (32/64-bit), Linux, Macintosh, Palm OS, Windows Server Edition, Android|
Avast! (styled avast!) is a freemium antivirus computer program available to Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux users, with a user interface available in 41 languages. The name Avast is an acronym of "Anti-Virus – Advanced Set". The official, and current logo of Avast! is a white orb with the letter 'a' on it and an orange circle around it, sticking out to four directions.
Its developer, AVAST Software a.s. (formerly known as ALWIL Software a.s.), has headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, with offices in Linz, Austria; Friedrichshafen, Germany; and San Mateo, California.
It has been awarded VB100 Award by Virus Bulletin multiple times for 100% detection of "in-the-wild" viruses, and also won the Secure Computing Readers' Trust Award. The central scanning engine has been certified by ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs' Checkmark process.
Avast! (17,4% worldwide antivirus vendor market share) competes in the antivirus industry against Microsoft (13,2%), ESET (11,1% ), Symantec (10,3%), AVG Technologies (10,1%), Avira (9,6%), Kaspersky (6,7%), McAfee (4,9%), Panda (2,9%) and Trend Micro (2,8%) among others.
AVAST Software timeline:
- 1988 – Pavel Baudiš, then a researcher at Prague’s Mathematical Machines Research Institute, encountered a sample of the Vienna Virus and, intrigued by it, wrote a program able to remove it. He then showed it to colleague Eduard Kučera and, together, they started ALWIL Software cooperative, which released the first Avast! antivirus. Due to the oppressive regime, however, they were unable to form a ‘company’ at that time.
- 1991 – Founders Pavel Baudiš and Eduard Kučera, free from the socioeconomic constraints of the former regime, transformed ALWIL Software from a ‘cooperative’ into a joint partnership ‘company’.
- 1995 – A young Ondrej Vlček (current AVAST CTO) joined ALWIL while completing his university studies. He wrote the first antivirus program for Windows 95.
- 1996 – Avast! antivirus was one of the first three antivirus programs globally to win Virus Bulletin’s VB100 awards in all testing categories.
- 1997 – ALWIL Software provided the Avast! antivirus engine to McAfee, which licensed it for use in its own line of McAfee antivirus products with the "Powered by Avast! engine" logo on the McAfee VirusScan boxes. Also, ALWIL hired its first tech-support specialist, Pavel Mourek.
- 2001 – Co-founder Eduard Kučera implemented a user-community growth strategy based on the principle that all computer users deserve protection from harmful threats, and that computer safety should not be a luxury some cannot afford. Thus, on 1 June, ALWIL Software launched a free antivirus solution for home (non-commercial) use. Six months later (January 2002), a new registration system saw the very first user registration of free Avast! antivirus Home Edition.
- 2003 – The growing free Avast! user base generated a need to offer other paid-for solutions effectively online. Thus, ALWIL turned to Digital River’s online sales distribution share-it! New product launches included Avast! Bootable Antivirus & Recovery Tool (BART) CD and the (free) Avast! 4 Home Edition (under Ondrej Vlček's R&D supervision).
- 2004 – Only 30 months after its first user registration, the free version of Avast! reached one million users. Until this time, management remained uncertain as to whether giving for free what others sell would work, but reaching one million users confirmed a successful increase in visibility for the company. ALWIL also implemented an international reseller channel for its paid-for security solutions. New product launches included Avast! Linux version, Avast! 4.5 Home/Professional edition, Avast! Distributed Network Manager (ADNM), and Avast! BART CD 2.0.
- 2005 – As a way for Avast! to reach new users at a time when the internet did not have such high penetration, ALWIL began cooperation with SanDisk. Thanks to this partnership, Avast! needed language localization for all SanDisk markets. Thus, ALWIL hired the first people for in-house localization and support, which was the first step toward Avast! supporting a wide range of languages. New product launches included Avast! U3 Edition (for SanDisk) and Avast! 4.6.
- 2006 – The Avast! user base doubled twice, first to 10 million and then to 20 million by year’s end, in large part due to the availability of more language versions and a number of industry awards for quality. Avast! swept the SC Awards categories with Best Antivirus, as well as Anti-Malware (European) and Readers' Choice (USA). New product launches included Avast! Linux Home Edition.
- 2007 – The company reached 40 million registered Avast! users with only 38 employees, for a ratio of one million users per employee. ALWIL Software transformed into a joint stock company. New product launches included Avast! Mac Edition and Avast! Windows Home Server Edition.
- 2008 – ALWIL put major focus on acquiring a multinational sales and support team and localizing Avast! antivirus and Avast.com into more languages. The company reached 50 million registered users and 60 employees. New product launches included Avast! 4.8.
- 2009 – To strengthen the team, ALWIL hired Vincent Steckler (formerly of Symantec) as CEO. The Avast! registered-user base jumped from 68 million to over 100 million, and the company reached 100 employees. New product launches included the 5.0 series of Avast! Free Antivirus, Avast! Pro Antivirus, and Avast! Internet Security.
- 2010 – Summit Partners invested $100 million for a minority share of the company. Said Han Sikkens, a Principal in Summit Partners, "it is rare to find a company such as AVAST that redefines how an industry does business. We are very excited about the growth prospects of this exceptional company." As well, ALWIL Software changed its name to AVAST Software, to more closely align the company with the brand, and Avast! reached 130 million registered users. New product launches included Avast! 5.0 series, with a new antivirus engine and an optional silent firewall and virtualization sandbox.
- 2011 – By midyear, Avast! had more than 135 million active users and over 165 million user registrations – with just over 150 employees. New product launches included Avast! Business Protection line (with a simplified central administration console); Avast! 6.0 series, with new innovations that included: WebRep (a website reputation ratings tool), SafeZone™ (a built-in browser, using the Chromium source code, for safety with sensitive online transactions), and AutoSandbox (the first automatic virtualization feature offered within a free antivirus).
- 2012 - AVAST finished the year actively protecting over 170 million PCs, Macs, and Android devices, with just over 200 employees. Avast! Free Mobile Security reached best-rated security app in Google Play, and Avast! Free Antivirus achieved the top-downloaded software spot on Download.com. New product launches included: Avast! Free Antivirus for Mac; Avast! 7.0 series. New innovations included Remote Assistance (for giving/getting help to/from a friend with Avast!), the Avast! Account portal (for overseeing all Avast! protected devices), a cloud-based FileRep (file reputation detection), and streaming, real-time virus database updates.
- Antivirus kernel based on certified antivirus engine.
- Resident protection comprising individual modules or "shields", each of which can be individually configured or disabled:
- File System Shield — Real-time protection against viruses and other malware threats. Scans files as they run on your computer to keep viruses from being able to execute.
- Mail Shield — Scans messages and attachments in E-mail/Microsoft Outlook/Exchange for viruses.
- Web Shield — HTTP protection (local transparent proxy). Version 4.8 also allows the blocking of URLs. Scans URLs and incoming data for viruses, and aborts connections to the site if one is found.
- P2P Shield — Scans P2P files from file share programs.
- IM Shield — Instant Messaging protection. (Scanning of files transferred through instant messaging applications)
- Script Shield — Scans webpages for malicious scripts, and disables them from infecting your computer, though they can still be used (for example, a clickable button.)
- Network Shield — Basic protection against well-known network worms. Acts as an Intrusion Detection System.
- Behavior Shield — Reports suspicious behavior by analyzing the behavior of programs
- Anti-spyware capabilities
- Anti-rootkit capabilities (Powered by GMER).
- Self-Protection — Prevents malware from terminating avast! processes and damaging avast! files.
- Automatic incremental updates — Updates of both the program and the virus database which is used to identify potential threats — Avast! updates its virus definitions on a regular basis (sometimes multiple updates daily) and this process is automated by default.
- Audible alarms — Vocal warnings and notices such as "Threat has been detected!" and "Virus database has been updated."
- Boot-time scan — Users can schedule a boot-time scan to remove infections that load during Windows startup.
- Virus Chest — Quarantine; folder where infected files can be stored. The virus chest also stores vital system files to protect them from damage by malware. Users can also add their own files to the virus chest. Once in the chest, a file cannot be executed; double-clicking the file will instead display information about the file.
- SafeZone — SafeZone is a special web browser in avast! Pro Antivirus 6.x and avast! Internet Security 6.x based on Chromium web browser. It allows users to browse the web in a private, secure environment, invisible to the rest of the users' system.
- WebRep browser plugin — WebRep is a community-based website reputation ratings tool implemented in version 6.0 of Avast! Antivirus.
- Avast! antivirus monitor— Avast! antivirus monitor is a sidebar gadget for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. It comes with Avast! Antivirus 6 and 7.
- Consumer Alert - Gives the user information if their credit may have been tampered with (US Customers Only)
- AVAST cloud — Avast! 7 introduces streaming updates from the cloud in addition to daily virus database updates. Throughout the day, AVAST streams updates to users, giving them faster warnings about new malware. This supplements regular virus updates, keeping users informed and protected regardless of their internet connection.
- FileRep - The FileRep feature enables faster threat identification by sorting new, potentially dangerous files from known safe files. Sourced from the CommunityIQ sensor network, the data helps avast! decide when questionable files should be placed in the AutoSandbox.
- Remote Assistance — An avast! user can connect to the computer of a second avast! user, allowing the "helper-friend" to help with any computer issues.
Version 5 and higher versions of Avast! Antivirus allows its users to customize the voiceover played by the program whenever an event happens (such as the detection of malware, or whenever the program's database is updated). Official voiceovers are available in Hungarian, Belarusian, Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Avast allows its users to submit voiceovers in different languages. Themed voiceovers are also available; these include "Aussie", "Californian", "Canadian", "Pirate Talk" and "Santa Claus".
The free version of Avast! Antivirus is only intended for personal, non-commercial use. After installation, the program can be used in trial mode for thirty days. This limit can be eliminated by registering using a form in Avast's website. The program must then be re-registered every year.
However, a user who has version 4.8 and upgrades to the latest version is given an automatic 14-month license.
The latest stable Windows version is 9.0, released worldwide on 15 October 2013. Apart from business-grade security solutions, the Avast! product range includes the following:
- Avast! Free Antivirus 9.0 — freeware for personal, non-commercial use only
- Avast! Pro Antivirus 9.0 — shareware for both personal and commercial use
- Avast! Internet Security 9.0 — shareware for both personal and commercial use
- Avast! Premier 9.0 — shareware for both personal and commercial use
A comparison of the four products can be found below.
|Free Antivirus||Pro Antivirus||Internet Security||Premier|
|Intelligent Antivirus with new DynaGen technology||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Anti-malware Protection plus anti-spyware & anti-rootkit||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|SafeZone for secured payments & banking||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Silent Firewall against hacker attacks||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Anti-spam against phishing & scam emails||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic Software Updater keeps other programs updated||No||No||No||Yes|
|AccessAnywhere access your PC over the Internet||No||No||No||Yes|
|Data Shredder for a military-grade permanent data erasure||No||No||No||Yes|
- Avast! 4 Windows Home Server Edition — Shareware for use on Windows Home Servers.
- Avast! 4 Professional Family Pack — License pack for use in the home by families with multiple computers. Includes 10 licenses of Avast! Professional Edition and one license for Avast! Windows Home Server Edition. (No longer offered)
- Avast! Mac Edition — An antivirus solution for Apple Macintosh machines running Mac OS X. It is based on a central virus-scanning daemon and includes a mail scanner, an on-demand scanner and an on-access scanner all controlled through a simple user interface. Although designed as a solution for individual desktops, and priced accordingly, the level of performance is closer to that normally delivered by server antivirus software. The Mac+PC Edition is for Mac users with both the Mac operating system and MS Windows installed on the same machine. It comprises both the Mac Edition and Professional Edition.
- Avast! 4 Server Edition — Shareware for businesses running Windows Server - may be extended by additional modules for MS Exchange Server 2000/2003/2007, MS Proxy/ISA Server, SMTP Server, MS Sharepoint Server (Portal Server 2001/2003, Windows Sharepoint Services 2003 and MS Office Sharepoint Server 2007)
- Avast! Distributed Network Manager — allows network administrators to manage the Avast! antivirus product line across the whole enterprise.
- Avast! 4 Small Business Server Edition — Shareware for Windows Small Business Servers, including Exchange server or ISA server
- Avast! Linux Home Edition — Freeware for personal, non-commercial use only — for use on Linux workstations.
- Avast! for Linux/Unix Servers — Shareware designed to run on Linux and BSD servers running x86 kernels only. Packages are available as RPM, Debian or in Tarball form.
- Avast! for Kerio — Shareware designed to work with Kerio products such as their secure mail servers.
- Avast! U3 Edition — Shareware for the protection of U3 smart drives from viruses and other forms of malware.
- Avast! 4 PDA Edition — Shareware for Windows PocketPC/Windows Mobile, WinCE and Palm OS.
- Avast! BART CD (Bootable Antivirus and Recovery Tool) — Shareware to detect and remove virus infections.
- Avast! Mobile Security — Freeware for use on Android devices.
Awards and certifications
- In 2006, Avast! Antivirus won SC Magazine’s Readers Trust Award for best antivirus.
- In 2010, Avast! was the second most-downloaded software on CNET Downloads.
- In 2010, Brothersoft.com named Avast! Free Antivirus among its 10 "Editors Pick" selections.
- In April 2010, Avast! Server Edition won the Readers' Choice award from WindowSecurity.com.
- In April 2011, TechDeville.com gave Avast! its "Best Antivirus 2011" award.
- In July 2011, Filecluster.com gave Avast! its full five-star "Excellent" rating.
- In March 2012, CNET Download.com gave its Editors' Choice Award for that month to Avast! Free Antivirus version 7.
Softpedia.com has reviewed Avast! and given its highest 5-star "Excellent" rating in several reviews:
- Avast! Home Edition (August 2006)
- Avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 (February 2011)
- Avast! Free Antivirus 7.0 (March 2012)
Independent testing AV-Comparatives has multiple times awarded Avast! its highest "Advanced +" rating in various categories:
- Performance Test (October 2008)
- On Demand Detection Test (August 2009)
- Retrospective / Proactive Test (November 2009)
- Performance Test (December 2009)
- On Demand Detection Test (February 2010)
- Performance Test (Suite Products) (July 2010)
- On Demand Detection Test (August 2010)
- On Demand Detection Test (August 2011)
- On Demand Detection Test (March 2012)
Impersonation by malware
In 23 July 2011, a rogue antivirus uses this name spelled as "Avast". It appeared on the internet through the fake Adobe Flash update. The malware contains the Enhanced Protection Mode, bad grammar and spelling and everything else. It bears no resemblance to the legitimate avast! software.
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- "Top 10 Windows downloads of 2010". CNET.com. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- "Brothersoft Winners 2010: List of Editors Pick Windows Software". Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "avast! Server edition - Voted WindowSecurity.com Readers’ Choice Award Winner - Anti Virus". Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Best Antivirus 2011 – Avast Antivirus 6". Techdeville.com. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
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- "Performance Test (October 2008)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "On Demand Detection Test (August 2009)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Retrospective / Proactive Test (November 2009)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Performance Test (December 2009)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "On Demand Detection Test (February 2010)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Performance Test (Suite Products) (July 2010)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "On Demand Detection Test (August 2010)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "On Demand Detection Test (August 2011)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "On Demand Detection Test (March 2012)". AV-Comaratives.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Spyware Help Center - avast! enhanced protection mode". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "Avast! AntiVirus - Anti-Spyware Desktop". Checkmark Certification. West Coast Labs. Retrieved 2012-03-17.