PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

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freakazoid
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PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#1 Post by freakazoid » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:53 pm

Avast Free makes money off of your internet history by sending it to a data mining company, Jumpshot, that sells off your data to advertisers.

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https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdkq7/avast-antivirus-sells-user-browsing-data-investigation
They claim your data is anonymized, but that's not good enough. You're the product!
is it stealth? ;)

TP109
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#2 Post by TP109 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:16 pm

In a tweet sent last month intended to entice new clients, Jumpshot noted that it collects "Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site" [emphasis Jumpshot's.]

Jumpshot's data could show how someone with Avast antivirus installed on their computer searched for a product on Google, clicked on a link that went to Amazon, and then maybe added an item to their cart on a different website, before finally buying a product, the source who provided the documents explained.
Note: Jumpshot is a subsidiary of Avast.

source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdk ... estigation


Interesting. I uninstalled Avast Free about 4 months ago after I suspected it was causing browser performance issues even with Web shield turned off. I have two XP laptops, one had Avast and the other has AVG antivirus. I didn't have any issues with the PC with AVG installed. It took time, but the problem ended up being a combination of Avast and another program. I uninstalled Avast, changed the configuration of the offending program, and installed AVG in its place. I didn't know at the time that AVG was a subsidiary of Avast, and that both of their web extensions were removed from the Chrome Play Store because of Data Collection concerns. I'm not having performance issues anymore, even though AVG is suspect too.

Google removes Avast, AVG extensions from Chrome Web Store after data collection concerns

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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#3 Post by webfork » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:02 pm

Good post, thanks.

If you use Avast or AVG, it would be wise to uninstall it immediately and go for an alternative. If for some reason you can't do that, you can mitigate the damage by disabling the sharing function within the program. It does beg the question whether or not the company will actually respect user wishes for those that do configure the program not to share data.

I was hoping to come across a news story with not just usernames and passwords, or even credit card information being hacked, but reputable companies auctioning off extremely personal data to Fortune 500 companies. It would make it easier to explain the importance of avoiding programs like Facebook and leaning towards services like VPNs and secure messaging programs.

Unfortunately, this doesn't inspire confidence at any level, meaning people are less likely to trust ANY security tools or services. Fewer people using security software to avoid privacy breaches like this is going to mean more malware goes further. I don't see any positives here.

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SYSTEM
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#4 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:26 pm

AVs are pretty much snake oil these days. They don't really improve your security. I recommend just using Windows Defender.

Far better for your security would be using an ad blocker. They protect you from malvertising. Even better if you also block third-party iframes with uBlock Origin like I do.
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#5 Post by TP109 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:55 pm

webfork wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:02 pm
Unfortunately, this doesn't inspire confidence at any level, meaning people are less likely to trust ANY security tools or services. Fewer people using security software to avoid privacy breaches like this is going to mean more malware goes further. I don't see any positives here.
Exactly. Leaders in the security sector are spying on users and and selling their information. Does that even make sense?
webfork wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:02 pm
I was hoping to come across a news story with not just usernames and passwords, or even credit card information being hacked, but reputable companies auctioning off extremely personal data to Fortune 500 companies.
It's already gone pretty far according to the info in the vice.com article. It seems like IBM, Microsoft, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines, and the many other companies qualify as Fortune 500 companies if I'm not mistaken.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdk ... estigation

Some more snippets from the article:
Jumpshot says it has data from 100 million devices.

The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies' LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymized user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered into the porn site and which specific video they watched.

Although the data does not include personal information such as users' names, it still contains a wealth of specific browsing data, and experts say it could be possible to deanonymize certain users.

"It's very granular, and it's great data for these companies, because it's down to the device level with a timestamp," the source said, referring to the specificity and sensitivity of the data being sold.

Opera, and Google removed Avast's and subsidiary AVG's extensions from their respective browser extension stores. Avast had previously explained this data collection and sharing in a blog and forum post in 2015.

However, the data collection is ongoing, the source and documents indicate. Instead of harvesting information through software attached to the browser, Avast is doing it through the anti-virus software itself.
It's almost like they are bragging about it. Well, I guess they are - at least to their clients. I think it's probably a good idea for everyone to read the article in full for themselves.
Last edited by TP109 on Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

Special
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#6 Post by Special » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:59 pm

The data is anonymized according to Avast which means that personally identifiable information such as a user’s IP address or email addresses are removed from the data before it is sold...

While that looks good on paper, methods exists to de-anonymize data.

Funny I'm not seeing any cries to uninstall Mozilla's Firefox since they can sell your browsing data to Cliqz “because it’s anonymized” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliqz#Int ... th_Firefox), most all big tech companies will claim that every collection and processing moral is right on our data as long as it’s anonymized, but when their not-friend Avast does it too suddenly they remember that it’s still bad to do that, and that in particular data can be de-anonymized?

Let me add something that people tend to forget in these times of death of digital rights, that de-anonymization is not the only reason, not even the main reason why this kind of anonymized data collection is bad: the main reason is that our data belongs to us, not to some business whose code we’re running on our devices.

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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#7 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:58 pm

Special wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:59 pm
Funny I'm not seeing any cries to uninstall Mozilla's Firefox since they can sell your browsing data to Cliqz “because it’s anonymized” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliqz#Int ... th_Firefox), most all big tech companies will claim that every collection and processing moral is right on our data as long as it’s anonymized, but when their not-friend Avast does it too suddenly they remember that it’s still bad to do that, and that in particular data can be de-anonymized?
See https://palant.de/2019/10/28/avast-onli ... ng-on-you/

Avast collects far more data, such as the URLs of all web pages you visit. That's full-blown spying. Compared with that, the telemetry data Firefox sends by default is very tame. And you can also disable Firefox telemetry in settings if you want.
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Special
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#8 Post by Special » Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:28 am

"And you can also disable Firefox telemetry in settings if you want."

That hardly matters, as I'm sure there are ways to disable what Avast collects as well. The point is, your mom, grandma, and avarage joe by default are getting their data collected by others like Mozilla, am I defending Avast, fuck no, but I find it funny that this turns to a PSA:Uninstall!!!!!!! Avast, whereas I can name about a hundred other things that do the same thing.

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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#9 Post by mossydoodle » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:22 am

great that i've never used free Avast

freakazoid
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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#10 Post by freakazoid » Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:26 pm

Well, Avast announced today that they're shutting down Jumpshot.

Does that help restore your trust in Avast? Probably not. Companies have to make money somehow. Probably should just stick to Windows Defender, even though they're probably doing the same thing. Or turn off antivirus altogether and go with an anti-executable method like Voodooshield.
is it stealth? ;)

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Re: PSA: Uninstall Avast Free

#11 Post by webfork » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:49 pm

freakazoid wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:26 pm
Does that help restore your trust in Avast? Probably not. Companies have to make money somehow. Probably should just stick to Windows Defender, even though they're probably doing the same thing. Or turn off antivirus altogether and go with an anti-executable method like Voodooshield.
I'd be very surprised if one of the most well known and popular anti-virus tools in the world wasn't able to find other means of feeding developers that didn't include selling personal data, much less very specific, personal data. Anyway, from what I'm reading, Windows Defender has improved immensely over the last few years, though Microsoft's reputation for privacy is not what it once was. Microsoft had an iffy record on security, but a long-standing approach to privacy for many years, which is shrinking on the acquisition of LinkedIn and similar tools. Now it seems to have traded places, where security is good and privacy is fading.
Special wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:59 pm
Funny I'm not seeing any cries to uninstall Mozilla's Firefox since they can sell your browsing data to Cliqz “because it’s anonymized” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliqz#Int ... th_Firefox)
The effort in the provided link seems very small scale. I know your point is about the industry at large, but I definitely don't want to paint Firefox with the same brush as Avast, especially versus Chrome.

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