You Can’t Even Trust Your Anti-Virus!

Published On January 31, 2020 | By Tom Huskerson | News and Analysis

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!

See also: The Best Free Antivirus Protection for 2020

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?

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. Tom attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has also written both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and Tom is not the chief editor for the OnTechStreet. com. A news and information blog that focuses on tech news for African-Americans. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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