avast! Free Antivirus 2014 has several advanced modules that provide additional protection from malware:
- Online Security / Browser Protection (previously known as WebRep) - provides community-based Web Reputation system as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, plus the old Presto-based Opera (up to version 12.x).
It also blocks known Phishing sites that try to steal your user names and passwords; SiteCorrect feature prevents visiting malicious sites if you make a spelling error in safe site's address - one example in the past was google.com vs googkle.com.
The extension also works as Ad Blocker and Tracking Protection; and SafePrice offers best prices for selected products on trusted vendor sites. This should keep users away from shady e-shops.
- Browser Cleanup - removes browser toolbars that do not want to go away or have bad reputation among users.
- Site Blocking - prevents access to defined web sites for parental control.
- Software Updater - detects and notifies when updates are needed for common programs, such as browsers and add-ons.
- GrimeFighter - removes unneeded startup items and registry entries, frees up disk space and detects hardware that is about to fail. Sadly, running the cleanup requires a paid subscription, so free product users should turn the feature off to prevent annoying popups.
avast! Free Antivirus provides web reputation, anti-phishing, SiteCorrect, Ad Blocker and SafePrice with tracking protection.
The web reputation system is similar to WOT Safe Surfing Tool - a browser add-on that displays reputation ratings for web sites you visit and for search results of major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing). The plugin also protects from entering phishing sites.
The color of letter "a" in browser toolbar shows how safe the site is:
- green ones are safe,
- yellow ones have bad reputation (but they are not malicious per sé),
- red ones are unsafe and will be blocked,
- grey ones have not been rated yet.
The number on avast! icon shows how many ads and trackers have been disabled on the current web page.
Clicking on the toolbar button opens an overview of tracking protection results. To see more details about a feature, stop mouse pointer on it. Here you can also turn tracking protection options (and individual tracking companies) on and off quickly.
Rate now button allows casting your positive or negative vote for the currently open web site.
Here are a few examples of search engine results that have yellow and red rating:
Enabling avast! Online Security browser extension
Nowadays, each extension/plug-in/add-on must be manually approved. Here are steps you need to take after installing or upgrading to avast! Free Antivirus 2014.
Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11 users will see the yellow Notification Bar stating that the 'avast! Online Security' add-on is ready for use. Click Enable.
Google Chrome users will see the "avast! Online Security" added dialog. Click Enable extension.
Mozilla Firefox users must take a few more steps. First, in the avast! Online Security notification, tick the Allow this installation check box and click Continue.
Next, in the bottom of the same dialog, click Restart Firefox.
Configuring avast! Online Security browser extension
To change the settings of avast! Online Security, click its button in browser toolbar and then click Settings in the bottom right. Google Chrome users should right-click the button and click Options instead.
These are the settings available in avast! Online Security. Please note that Internet Explorer lists the items in different order. SafeZone feature is available in paid versions of avast! Internet Security and Premiere only.
Please ensure that at least Antiphishing, SiteCorrect and Search enginge results check boxes are ticked here.
Do not track blocks social networks and ad tracking by default. If you do not see some useful content after enabling avast! Online Protection module, you can first try disabling the blocking of social networks (many sites use Facebook commenting system, for example) here.
Web analytics and others are harmless for most people, so leave these check boxes cleared.
CommunityIQ is up to you: if you want maximum privacy, clear this check box.
SafePrice is optional again - in case you shop in well-known e-shops only, you can safely disable the feature.
Reset to default is available for those who mess up settings.
Click Save after making changes.
Please note that you cannot create exclusions in avast! Online Security browser extension - all settings are global and either on or off.
Here's how Online Security report for currently open web page looks after clicking its toolbar button. To see further details about an item, stop mouse pointer on a switch button. This reveals which trackers were (or were not) blocked. You can enable or disable any category or individual sub-items by flipping its switch (the category switch turns yellow and has exclamation mark after disabling any sub-item).
Rating sites with avast! Online Security
If you use the browser protection plug-in, please help avast! by providing your own rating to unrated sites or sites with few votes.
Click the extension's toolbar button and then click the Rate Now button on the top right.
Choose either Positive or Negative. The latter will spawn another question about the site category, but answering this is optional - just click Done.
Your opinion will then be reviewed by avast! team. Click the Online Security toolbar button again to hide the sidebar.
Disabling avast! Online Security browser extension
If you do not like or need the browser add-on, you can turn it off easily.
In Internet Explorer, open Tools menu (press Alt key once to reveal menus) and click Manage add-ons. IE 9 and newer also support keyboard shortcut Alt+X.
In Manage Add-ons window, make sure that Toolbars and Extensions is selected on the left. Find and click avast! Online Security and then click Disable in the bottom right. Make sure you turn off both listed items!
In Google Chrome, click Customize and control Google Chrome button (the three bars on top right), expand Tools menu and click Extensions.
Then clear the Enabled check box for avast! Online Security extension.
In Mozilla Firefox, click the orange Firefox button and select Add-ons from the right.
Open Extensions tab from the left and click Disable button for avast! Online Security.
As usual, Firefox requires a restart for the change to take effect. Click Restart now.
avast! Browser Cleanup is a godsend for those who have been struggling with browser toolbars and plugins/addons that do not want to uninstall properly, or come back alive from nowhere. Browser Cleanup uses reputation services to determine which toolbars and addons cause trouble or are malicious.
First, open avast! user interface by clicking its icon in Taskbar Notification Area (aka System Tray).
Open Tools tab from the left and click Browser Cleanup.
Click the huge Start Browser Cleanup button on the right.
In case some toolbar or extension with poor reputation has been detected, it is recommended to use the Remove all add-ons button, but you can also delete only some of the detections.
In this case, the infamous Ask Toolbar was detected and is finally about to be removed properly.
After the cleanup is complete, a success message appears. Click OK.
If scanning result reads "Your browsers appears to be free from add-ons that have a poor reputation", everything is fine with the installed web browser(s). No further action is required.
Site Blocking feature is useful for parents protecting their kids from addiction to some online games or websites; or any user who needs to block his/her computer from accessing some certain site (for example, to help cleaning malware).
This feature must be used with avast! password protection, otherwise it is absolutely useless.
In avast! Free Antivirus 2014 main window, click Settings tab on the left.
Then, in avast! Settings window, open Active Protection tab from the left and click the cogwheel icon for Web Shield.
In avast! Web Shield Settings window, open Site Blocking tab.
First, tick the Enable site blocking box. Then, under URLs to block, type a web site address. For example, facebook.com. Note that avast! adds an asterisk (*) to the end of the address. The asterisk means that any sub-address (e.g. facebook.com/avast) of the site will also be blocked.
As wildcards, such as asterisks and question marks are supported, it is not recommended to use the "www." prefix. Instead, replace it with "*.", for example "*.facebook.com" - this will prevent opening any subsites of Facebook. E.G., specifying "www.facebook.com" will deny access to http://www.facebook.com, but not to http://facebook.com; while using "*.facebook.com" will block both.
To change an entry, simply click it and make your corrections. To delete an entry, click the delete button to the right of the entry.
When a user tries to open a blocked site, a blocking message will be displayed by avast! Web Shield:
Sadly, there is a huge limitation to avast! Site Blocking - it does not support secure connections (HTTPS). So you can block http://www.facebook.com, but not https://www.facebook.com.
Shortly after installing avast! Free Antivirus 2014, many users encounter notifications from avast! Software Updater: "The software update status of your computer is CRITICAL".
In such case, click Show details to open Software Updater.
This feature checks if there are any security updates available for most important programs, such as web browsers and common add-ons. Free version of avast! will not apply these updates automatically (only paid versions of avast! do). To get free automated updating, use Secunia PSI.
Software Updater button is available in avast! main window, Tools tab.
Click Update for the program that requires it - this will download the latest version and you can install it on your own.
Please note that most browsers have automatic updating function available. After updating a program manually, you can click Refresh in avast! Software Updater if the warning dialogs still appear.
If there is some software that you cannot or do not want to update, click the Ignore Updates link instead.
To resume warnings about the program later, click Stop ignoring.
To configure the feature, click Settings in the left part of avast! user interface, open the Tools tab and click Customize.
If you have multiple users on your Windows PC, it is strongly recommended to tick the Allow update of system-wide products for administrators only check box. This will prevent avast! from notifying standard (non-administrator) users about programs that require administrative rights during installation.
To speed up updating, enable the Automatically download updates if possible option. avast! will then save installers quietly and you'll spare some time. This one is not recommended if your primary/system hard drive is tight on space.
Notifications (popups) enabled should be turned on if you want to use avast! Software Updater.
The Database reset (troubleshooting) section allows clearing avast!'s list of installed products and versions. This comes in handy if avast! Software Updater thinks falsely that some latest programs are not up-to-date, or detects software that is not installed.
Just click Reset database now in such cases.
The action will be confirmed, click Yes. Then click OK in success dialog.
And then you can also clear the Enable Software Updater check box altogether if you use alternative programs, such as Secunia PSI, for this task.
Because GrimeFighter requires a yearly paid subscription, it is necessary to turn it off in free version of avast! Antivirus 2014. Otherwise, the tool will pop up weekly Performance Alert notifications that try to trick you into buying the service.
Using scareware tactics is not cool at all, dear makers of avast!
You can safely use free CCleaner to clean all of the "evidence of Grime slowing down your computer".
To disable GrimeFighter, open avast! user interface and click Settings tab in the left part of the window. Then open Tools tab click Customize button for GrimeFighter.
Clear the Always test this computer for Grime check box in GrimeFighter Activity section and click OK. That's it!