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  • Avast, caught selling users’ private data, will shut down the division that’s selling the data

    Posted on January 30th, 2020 at 09:16 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So what do you do when your company’s caught selling the surfing data from its “Free” antivirus product?

    You shut down the division that sells the data, of course.

    Charlie Osborne on ZDNet:

    Avast is winding down its subsidiary Jumpshot following an explosive investigation into the sale of user data to third parties that may pose a risk to consumer privacy.

    On Thursday, the antivirus vendor said the unit will no longer have access to user information harvested from users of Avast products and services will eventually be fully terminated…

    Jumpshot reportedly has access to information from over 100 million devices; or rather, once did.

  • Enormous trove of Avast-gathered data being sold

    Posted on January 27th, 2020 at 09:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Joseph Cox at Vice/Motherboard just published an eye-opener:

    Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data

    An Avast antivirus subsidiary sells ‘Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site.’ Its clients have included Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and McKinsey.

    Our report relies on leaked user data, contracts, and other company documents that show the sale of this data is both highly sensitive and is in many cases supposed to remain confidential between the company selling the data and the clients purchasing it.

    Looks like PCMag.com joined in the investigation.

    Are you using Avast Free?

  • Avast snooping gets called out by Firefox

    Posted on December 3rd, 2019 at 07:25 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    And for good reason.

    Martin Brinkmann reports:

    If you search for Avast or AVG on the official Mozilla Add-ons website, you may notice that no results by these companies are returned. Neither Avast Online Security or SafePrice… are returned by the Store currently even though these extensions exist. It appears that Mozilla removed these extensions from its Store.

    He goes on to quote a security researcher (the creator of AdBlock Plus) who determined two months ago that Avast snoops like crazy:

    The data collected here goes far beyond merely exposing the sites that you visit and your search history. Tracking tab and window identifiers as well as your actions allows Avast to create a nearly precise reconstruction of your browsing behavior: how many tabs do you have open, what websites do you visit and when, how much time do you spend reading/watching the contents, what do you click there and when do you switch to another tab. All that is connected to a number of attributes allowing Avast to recognize you reliably, even a unique user identifier.

    Back in August, @satrow observed:

    They’ve been interfering with browser HTTPS connections for almost 5 years now.

    Seems like the chickens have come home to roost.

    Brinkmann says Avast extensions are still available in Chrome – but I can’t find any.

    (By the by… Avast owns AVG. Avast bought a majority stake in AVG more than three years ago. The products are similar, but not identical. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if AVG were up to similar shenanigans.)

  • Did Firefox suddenly forget all of your passwords? Blame Avast. Again

    Posted on June 14th, 2019 at 19:06 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If Firefox suddenly forgot all of your passwords in the past day or so, blame Avast.

    It looks like Avast Antivirus and AVG Antivirus are both blocking the file that Firefox uses to store passwords. Your passwords are still there. You just need a new version of Avast or AVG.

    Martin Brinkmann has the details on ghacks:

    Firefox, just like any other modern browser, supports the saving of authentication information to improve the sign-in process on websites. Instead of having to enter the passwords manually each time they are requested, Firefox would provide the password when needed.

    Firefox saves the data in the file logins.json in the Firefox profile folder.

    Reports suggest that Avast and AVG security applications cause the issue for Firefox users. It appears that the software programs somehow corrupt the login.json file so that Firefox cannot read it anymore.

    Lawrence Abrams on BleepingComputer has the inside story:

    In a Mozilla bug post about this issue, Lukáš Rypáček, an engineering director at Avast, explained that the AVG Password Protection program will block a process’ access to saved logins unless the process is signed by a known and valid Firefox certificate. As Mozilla had issued a new certificate on 5/31/2019 and signed Firefox 67.0.2 with it, but AVG had not included it in the AVG Password Protection program, the Firefox processes were being blocked.

    Apparently Avast has released updates to fix the problem.

  • Avast says Microsoft to blame for the Win10 1803 upgrade bluescreens and non-sensical boot loop options

    Posted on May 25th, 2018 at 12:53 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Avast has released a new version of their antivirus software and, in a carefully worded explanation, take a jab at Microsoft’s botched Win10 1803 installer.

    Computerworld Woody on Windows.

  • Microsoft may be dodging coerced Win10 1803 upgrades on machines running Avast

    Posted on May 23rd, 2018 at 12:27 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Although the proclamation doesn’t come from official sources, a mod on the Avast forum says MS has stopped 1803 upgrades on machines running Avast antivirus.

    Which may be a good reason to install Avast, eh?

    Computerworld Woody on Windows.

  • Avast and AVG blamed for bad Win10 version 1803 upgrades

    Posted on May 22nd, 2018 at 04:11 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    On Reddit, ugcm says:

    Multiple users between Sunday, May 20 and Monday, May 21 have reported receiving a request to “restart and install updates” in Windows 10. This update appears to be the Windows 10 April 2018 update, also known as “1803”. Upon restarting, the computer boots to a blue screen asking the user to choose a keyboard language. After doing so, they are taken to another blue screen with three options to continue “booting” to:

    Windows Rollback

    Windows 10 on Volume [x]

    Windows 10 on Volume [x]

    The lower two options are identical.

    If the user chooses the top option, the computer will restart. If the user chooses either of the latter two options, Windows will appear to boot, but end up on a blank, black desktop with no icons, and an error message that the Desktop file could not be accessed.

    Following, there’s the usual Reddit tirade about Avast, AVG, Win10, 1803, and the phase of the moon. But it sounds like they’re on to a real, live problem.

    Anybody else seeing this?

  • Avast goes rogue

    Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 10:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    From reader c:

    Avast has just taken a page out of Microsoft’s bullying manual.

    I use Avast Free Antivirus. Several months ago, after resisting nag messages to “upgrade” to the new free version whose extra “features” I did not care for, I finally gave in.

    The new version messed with my Outlook 2003 (yes, that’s two thousand and three ; it suits me perfectly). It added a new “anti-spam” toolbar in all messages, which takes unwanted screen space and is completely unneeded, since I practically never receive spam.

    There was no warning, no way to opt-out before or after installation, and no way within Outlook 2003 or Windows 7 to disable the unwanted add-in. None that I found, anyway.

    So I went nuclear, and restored my whole system drive from a backup image. The “upgrade” vanished and I was back where I wanted to.

    Yesterday, Avast fired up a new, different nag screen, urging me to “upgrade” again (for my own good). Except… the only option “offered” was a Continue button… and no way to Cancel or Decline.

    So I right-clicked in the Windows taskbar to Close Window. Which it did.

    Today, when I launched Ooutlook, the dreaded anti-spam add-in appeared again.

    So, Avast stealthily “upgraded” me against my will, using exactly the same method Microsoft introduced with its wicked Windows 10 “upgrade” nag screen, where no Cancel option is offered and where clicking X means Accept.

    Folks, when a major player goes rogue, expect other, lesser vendors to grab the opportunity and go with the flow… Bad habits spread more readily than good ones. It seems we are less and less in control of our computers, and “empowerment” is a word of the past.

    UPDATE: I don’t know why, but attempts to post comments on this article are getting locked out. At least, I can’t get anything to post. Sometimes WordPress works in mysterious ways. Reader BC sent this:

    I’ve been using Panda Free Antivirus for over a year without problems. It seems light on resources, and it’s truly a “set-and-forget” experience when properly configured. The key is to enable “Gaming/multimedia mode,” and–most importantly–turn off “Panda news.” The software will be silent, without any type of nag screen.
    Panda does request an e-mail address, but I’ve never provided one.
    I don’t have another anti-virus scanner, but Malwarebytes and Spybot seem to indicate my system is clean.