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Still Using AVG or Avast Anti-virus? Time To Reconsider

Still Using AVG or Avast Anti-virus? Time To Reconsider

UPDATED – July 11, 2016 with latest Avast and AVG security issues.

Google has discovered that AVG Free will weaken your Google Chrome settings and expose personal data to hackers.  Details here.

Back in September as we originally reported, AVG announced that it will collect and sell your browser history and data to advertisers (or anyone).  They stated:

We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:

– Advertising ID associated with your device;

– Browsing and search history, including meta data;

– Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and

– Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.

As a small business it can be tempting use free/cheap anti-virus and anti-malware.. flying under the radar as if you are a home user.  This announcement by AVG confirms, again, why that can be risky.  It unfortunately also confirms why using AVG even for home/personal use is a risky proposition.

Browser history can contain numerous things that you might not want to share.. as a business or as an individual.  For example, as a business you might not want AVG collecting information on what vendors you use or what research you are doing.  As an individual, you might not want AVG selling to advertisers or others how much time you spend on websites.  And as either a business or individual, you certainly do not want AVG skimming credit card, e-mail, login, or banking details… all of which can reside in the debris in your browser cache that they readily admit they are going to pilfer through.

The full article: http://news.softpedia.com/news/avg-proudly-announces-it-will-sell-your-browsing-history-to-online-advertisers-492146.shtml 

Additionally a client pointed out to us that Avast (another “free” anti-virus product) has been linked to equally sketchy behavior.  From a PC Magazine article (linked here):

Avast is free, like the rest, but you must register in order to use it for more than 30 days. If you choose to register using Facebook, you may get a little surprise. Unless you opt out, Avast can post statements like, “I just installed Avast Antivirus for free. I really like it. If you want the best protection, download Avast like I did” on your Facebook wall. This policy does state very clearly that “We will not use this information for direct marketing purposes unless you ‘opt in’ to receive such communications.”

I found a little surprise in the description of Avast’s popular free Android app. This app includes an SDK that’s used by third-party advertisers, and these advertisers do receive minor PII data including your age, gender, and other apps installed on your device. Hmm.

At little history:  AVG has long been one of the free options for solid anti-virus protection.  However, starting back in 2013 we at ESG began to see disturbing changes in the policies of AVG, Avast, and others.  They tried inserting ads into their products in ever-more-confusing ways.  They also began including suspect programs in their packages and made it difficult to opt-out of these.  For these reasons and others, Erickson Solutions Group ceased to recommend AVG (or any free anti-virus besides Microsoft Security Essentials) in late 2013.

We have been steadfast in recommending that all businesses switch to a paid anti-virus/anti-malware package.  Please contact us about getting rid of AVG if you have it lurking on any systems, or if you would like us to search your environment.  Also talk to us about discounts for offering professional anti-virus/anti-malware software for all your employees on their laptops and home systems as well.. those need to be secured just like your regular office systems if remote access is utilized.