You Can’t Even Trust Your Anti-Virus!
When it comes to your personal information trust no one! This includes your anti-virus software.
Anti-virus software maker Avast admitted to collecting and selling your information. Bet you didn’t know that Avast has a data selling side business? Neither did I!
The Czech anti-virus software maker is catching hell and on Thursday said it will shut down Jumpshot, its data collecting business. Avast has been collecting your online activity and, through its subsidiary, funneled that information to marketers.
Your anti-virus software sits on your computer and watches everything you do. That’s its job, to stop any virus or malware you might come across online. So it sees everything you do online. Well Avast has been selling highly detailed internet browsing activity from the firm’s security products and browser extensions. If you use Avast, and I do, then you just been screwed again by a tech company.
An investigation by Vice’s Motherboard and PCMag uncovered Avast using its immense customer base to collect users’ browsing histories, details of online purchases and even search engine queries, and then selling this data to third parties through Jumpshot.
Avast has not only stole your personal information but lied in the process. Avast promised any data collected would be anonymized preserving your privacy. That was a lie! Avast said it would strip out email addresses and personally identifiable information before selling the data to third parties. That was a lie! Motherboard and PCMag learned that the supposedly sanitized browsing data Avast sold was still identifiable to specific individuals. Avast’s privacy assurances were just lies.
Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek apologized to users saying; “Protecting people is Avast’s top priority and must be embedded in everything we do in our business and in our products. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable.”
Jumpshot’s software evolved into tracking tools, spyware, that collected search data, click data and purchase data from 150 websites, including Amazon, Google, Netflix and Walmart. Jumpshot appears to be a dedicated spying operation with promotional tags that read: “Examine every search, click and buy. On every site.”
Jumpshot’s customers included Google, Trip Advisor, Conde Nast and Unilever. Other partners included such prominent web-tracking companies, or spy agencies as I like to call them, as Quantcast, Kantar Media, Lotame, Neustar, LiveRamp and Connexity.
This was a dedicated effort by Avast. The company inserted Jumpshot into both its Avast and AVG anti-virus products and browser apps. Avast also offered a series of security extensions that contained Jumpshot. Web Shield, another Avast tool that checked for malicious domains by checking URLs and alerting users was also used to track users.
There are other very good free antivirus tools available. I plan to switch. So should you!
Breaking It Down
I thought Avast was trustworthy! I expected my anti-virus to be there and shield me from some pain in the ass malware. I expected that every measure I took to be private online would be respected. Instead Avast has shown me that nothing is sacred.
This was not a mistake and I do not accept Ondrej Vlcek’s bullshit apology! As the CEO I believe he knew what was happening and only apologized because he got caught.
This company took full advantage of its customers trust by slipping in spyware everywhere they could. And lets be straight, it was spyware. The same stuff it was supposed to be blocking.
Avast has revealed the true nature of its business, to gather information and sell it. Yeah, I got a free download. Yeah, I understand that the company needs money to stay in business. But to lie and steal my information? I thought better of this company. A lot of people did. And every time I think a company is working in my best interest I get screwed. When will I ever learn?