Avast/AVG Secure Browsers?

Captain Holly

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I wanted to ask here, I did search but did not find much about this here or anywhere else either. What is the opinion here on the secure browsers offered by Avast and AVG? Are they really all that good at security? They claim to block tracking and fingerprinting and the Avast browser has an isolated mode for banking and financial sites. I wonder how well that really works and how well the browsers themselves work. I am testing here on the Avast browser now, it seems to be very fast and it blocked the Eicar and AMTSO test pages. Both have a built in ad blocker that looks to be based on Adguard, it seems to work well and has 3 settings. Both browsers are Chromium based but are said to not have the Google tracking/spying going on. I would appreciate very much any input on this, whether good or bad. Thanks for any help.

C.H.
 

Arequire

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A trend among these 'secure' browsers offered by AV vendors is they're generally running on out-of-date Chromium builds, leaving them susceptible to exploitation through vulnerabilities that have already been fixed in Chrome's stable release(s).

I don't have the ability to check right now but I'd wager Avast/AVG's browsers are no different.
 

Captain Holly

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Thanks. I checked Chrome and Avast, both are on version 99.0.xxxx:
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1648084201926.png

I am no fan boy for Avast but the browser seems pretty good so far. It is fast, has its own Avast extensions to pick from but can also use Chrome store extensions and the ad block seems to work fine so I see no need for any extra adblocker yet. I did add the Avast security add-on to block trackers and show web search results. I know web search results only come from a list somewhere but it's still a handy feature to see the check marks in the search list, and it works in both Google and Bing.

The only odd thing I found so far is the browser requires you to have Avast free or paid AV installed or else the bank mode browser will not work. I am testing this on my old laptop now and will tinker around here a while and see how it goes. If it works out I may use Avast on my daily driver laptop too. So far the Avast browser/Avast One Essential free AV combo seems to work fine and have some useful tools included.

C.H.
 
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Captain Holly

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I used the Avast browser for a couple days, tried it out and even I could see some holes in it. Some of the very few reputable reviews I found said it still has some security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. Settings didn't stay the way I set them and the VPN function disappeared after the first day but I was not using it anyway. The ad blocker is not that great, even on Strict it still allowed a lot of obnoxious ads, especially on You Tube. The Avast Security extension blocked some parts of music sites and other sites that I read every day. Avast also blocked the login for my Pandora account for some unknown reason.

I also found that not all of the Chrome extensions work in Avast browser either. Avast is not really any faster than Chrome or Edge and there really is no way to know if it is on the most recent Chromium update. The bank browser is a good idea but is not something I absolutely have to have. My final verdict is Avast browser is not that great and needs more work. I removed it and went back to Edge. Edge may not be perfect either but it does not have these kinds of problems.

C.H.
 

Captain Holly

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I thought I would update my thread and make atonement for the error of my ways here. I should not have condemned the Avast browser so quickly the last time I tried it. I tried it one more time a few days ago and on this go-around I spent a lot more time learning how the browser works and how to set it up. The first thing I figured out was the built-in ad blocker was blocking my Pandora login so I set the ad blocker on "Essential" which is the lowest setting and then I was able to log in to Pandora with no problems. After that I just put the ad blocker back to the middle "Balanced" setting and I am still signed in and listening to Pandora with no problems. So far Avast is not blocking any other websites either. I also found that the Avast Online Security extension can block comments, links and pictures on some sites if you set the extension to "block all trackers". I am not using that extension this time around, I have not seen a need for it yet and have had no blocked sites at all.

The built-in adblocker in the browser seems to be doing a great job so I have not added Ublock. The disappearance of the VPN is not a problem for me, it's a paid option after a 7 day free trial on the free Avast browser but I don't need a VPN anyway. I also figured out how to get the Chrome extensions I want to work. I did add Webmail Adblocker to block out Yahoo email ads and still be able to leave the balanced setting on the Avast adblocker. So far all of the extensions I use are all working fine. I am also not seeing any ads on Youtube now either. I will say Avast has some useful extensions in their own Add-On tab, which is the same style as the puzzle piece extension group in the Chrome browser. Even though I will not use very many of the extensions they do seem logical and make sense to me.

I have only seen one article online about security flaws in this Avast browser. I have no way to know if the article was really true so I am taking that with a big grain of salt. I have not experienced any security related problems at all with the browser. It detected the AMTSO phishing test page right away by itself and the Avast One AV detected the Eicar test. The browser integrates with the Avast antivirus very well. The Avast browser looks and feels exactly like Chrome, more so than any of the other Chromium-based browsers I tried. It has built-in anti-fingerprinting, phishing and tracker blocking like Firefox. The browser is very fast and light and is not a memory hog either. Right now I am at 56% Memory and 11% CPU usage with the browser at 347 MB and Avast One Essential AV at about 100 MB ram on an 8GB Lenovo laptop.

The only problem I have with the browser is the themes. The default theme is a very bland gray but you can add themes from the Google store and the basic ones on the main Google store page do work OK. The problem is if you use a theme from the list of additional themes in the Google store, it can cause the web address bar to turn black, which is not bad by itself but it will also cover up the letters you type in the address bar so you can't see it. I had originally set mine to the "Blue Clean" theme and that was when I found the theme problem. I am using the Google Classic Blue theme now and have had no problems with it at all. Also when you try to use one of those other non-mainstream Google themes in the Bank Mode browser it will cause the same blackout problem in the address bar.

I like the idea of the bank mode browser. It is definitely a very useful extra security feature that I am glad to have. It is a virtual browser that keeps everything contained and deletes your activity when you close it. The only problem I found with the bank mode is if you add bookmarks to the bookmark bar, you can only see the icon of the site. The name of the site is obscured no matter which theme you set. You also have to leave the bank mode set at the default dark blue theme, otherwise it blacks out the address bar. Avast may fix the theme issues sooner or later but they are not real problems for me.

I left the default theme on the bank mode browser as is. I just had to update the bank mode advanced settings and manually add a list of financial related sites like my bank, credit cards, mortgage etc that I want to always open in Bank Mode. That feature works great, it is very easy to click the site in the bookmarks list in the regular browser and the site will automatically open in the bank mode browser by itself. This way I don't have to worry about being able to see the bookmarks bar or the web address bar and I know it is going to the correct site because it uses a verified address from my own bookmarks list.

I am going to keep using the Avast browser and Avast One Essential AV. So far I am very satisfied with this setup. I tried a lot of browsers and a few other AV's lately and am now settled on Avast. It seems to have the best balance of security and ease of use. I have been using the Avast One mobile version on my cell phone for the last few months now and it works much better than the other mobile AV's I have tried. I may also try the mobile version of the Avast browser too but I don't believe it includes a VPN or bank mode.

I realize this is a long post but I wanted to share my experiences with this Avast browser in case anyone else here at MT or other sites might be looking for info on it, same as I was in the beginning when I really could not find any useful real-world reviews or opinions on it. I am no expert but I really like this setup.

C.H.
 
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cliffspab

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They're just Chrome with worse extensions than we'd choose, but better than Joe Public can manage, pre-installed.
 
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HarborFront

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AVAST Secure Browser and Privacy


and for AVAST Online Security and Privacy extension


Quote

The data we collect includes:

- URL - to check if the website is safe or not
- Usage data - to measure the user’s behavior on the interface and understand how the user interacts with the extension
- Internal extension identifier (GUID) - to distinguish unique malware hits, to measure product telemetry and calculate aggregated statistics
- Information about device (browser type, operating system version) - to obtain usage aggregated statistics
- Country - to detect country specific malware campaigns, and to measure product telemetry and calculate aggregated statistics

Unquote
 
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Captain Holly

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Thanks for the Tenta info, it is interesting. From what I can tell Avast browser is not harvesting any info on me that any other browser would not collect. The privacy policy seems very straightforward and open to me. I am not worried about what the Avast Security plugin collects; I don't use the plugin. So far I am still using the Avast browser and it works very well for me.

C.H.
 
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Captain Holly

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One last update for me here, in case it might help someone else. I ended my experiment with Avast and went back to Edge and WD. If anyone is interested, here is a thread about that.


C.H.
 
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