wow, lost my interest in avast!
thanks so much for sharing this info.
thanks so much for sharing this info.
*Laughing* out loud at the image of a Buddhist monk spy in an RPG!!!this makes me sad, Antivirus + adware or spying is like a buddhist monk with a rpg
something very wrong with that picture,,,,
not at all. is Microsoft free? Internet providers? well, no but they collecting much more data then avast.Hello everyone
It's the price of free products.
The difference is that if I want to pay for an operating system, payment. If I want to pay for an internet connection, so payment.not at all. is Microsoft free? Internet providers? well, no but they collecting much more data then avast.
it is simply the price that call net.
and to all paranoid people no one give you guarantee that the other anti viruses wont spy on you, if privacy is your concern don't use the net
avast was and still is one of the best free av on the market
A couple of days ago, howtogeek.com published an article about Avast and accused us of spying on our users. Given that the article contains a number of inaccuracies I feel it is necessary to react. As these are some pretty serious allegations, I also hope that we will be given some room on their site to defend ourselves. We requested the opportunity to discuss the author’s findings, but he declined to do so.
The article basically says that Avast used the SafePrice browser extension to spy on its users. That the SafePrice extension (which they first call “adware”) collects all URLs that the user visits, and then sends them to the cloud, together with a user ID. To demonstrate the problem, they used Fiddler (a free browser monitoring tool) to dissect the requests being generated by SafePrice and found the user ID in some of the requests, concluding that the product is “spying”. Finally, they say that all of this was true up until last week when we made SafePrice a standalone extension (removed it from the main Avast Online Security extension).
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
Now, regarding Avast SafePrice. SafePrice searches the web and offers its users the best price possible when shopping online from sites we trust, safeguarding users from possible online scams. While formerly the user had to do research and visit price comparison portals, SafePrice now offers automated help to find the best and trustworthy offerings. Avast SafePrice sends data to our server regarding the products our users are looking for and the URLs they are visiting. All personally identifiable information is stripped in real time, so the shopping data is completely anonymous. Again, I don’t think this can come as a surprise to anyone – I mean, did you expect SafePrice to have all the product IDs and all the offers stored locally? That just doesn’t make sense at all.
Originally, SafePrice was indeed part of the main Avast browser extension (as the article suggests). However, as most of the people in this forum know, in July 2014 we changed the strategy and moved it to a separate extension. The installation of this extension is now completely voluntary (on an opt-in basis) and its presence doesn’t influence Avast’s efficiency to block malicious sites. Since we have made this change, SafePrice accumulated almost 3 million installs just from the Chrome Web Store alone and became the most popular shopping extension for Chrome.
By the way, the other allegation was that Avast pushes SafePrice while recommending that users remove other similar browser extensions via Avast Browser Cleanup (BCU). I have explicitly checked our BCU database of community ratings and found that all the major shopping extensions, including PriceBlink, InvisibleHand, Shoptimate, and Groupon have good ratings and are not recommended for removal by BCU. Only those that our community of users have assessed as poor are so recommended.
One of the other issues raised by the article was whether the user ID is PII (personally identifiable information) or not, and why it is being transferred. The Avast user ID is a random, machine-generated ID that is created during the installation of the product. So by itself, it is certainly not a piece of PII. And the reason we include it in the request is because context is very important. The efficacy of a security product is severely limited if requests are done without a context, i.e., if it is not possible to tie them together into a “stream”. And in the case of SafePrice, we use the user ID just to be able to count our active users. In general, we really don’t see anything bad in doing this, in fact, if we were, we would have probably tried to hide what we’re doing in some way – while, as the author of the article uncovered quite easily using Fiddler, the user ID is there just as a regular json field. Which makes me even more frustrated, as it is very likely that if we actually made the field less noticeable, the article probably wouldn’t have been written. We’re not trying to hide anything.
As you can see, the title of the screen says “Please Don’t Skip This – Read it Carefully”. Honestly, I don’t know how to make it more explicit than this.
If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.