Avast Anti-Virus Issue
2020-01-30: Avast Anti-Virus Serious Issue
Based upon news reports from reliable sources such as PC Magazine, Motherboard and Vice.com we have learned that Avast’s browser extensions and its Web Shield have been “harvesting user data to supply to marketers”. This happens with every browser on Windows, Android and iOS (not certain about Safari, so to be safe assume it is vulnerable too). Deleting the Avast browser extensions does not resolve this issue since Avast’s “Smart Shield” remains active until Avast has been uninstalled. Avast has claimed that the collection of data from any of the browsers that you use is anonymized and aggregated in such a way that your privacy is maintained. However, investigative reporting by PCMag, etc. has determined that an Avast subsidiary known as “Jumpshot” has “been offering access to user traffic from 100 million devices, including PCs and phones”. Any illusion of privacy is a pipe dream because it is quite easy for companies such as Amazon, that purchase data from Jumpshot, to specifically identify individual users/customers. The problem is that when the Avast antivirus is installed on a device (there is no difference - free or paid versions) it is collecting your “click” data. For, example, you are using Chrome to search for something on the Amazon site and you enter a search argument for a Samsung Solid State Drive. Amazon suggests several alternatives and you click on a Western Digital SSD out of curiosity. That click along with a whole bunch of other data is captured by Avast and sold to any number of different companies by Jumpshot. This is a serious breach of trust, as is the fact that Avast gets users to install the Avast A/V using a Ccleaner update as a mule regardless of whether the user wants Avast or not. And now, as a consequence of this latest privacy breach in combination with the unscrupulous way Avast uses Ccleaner updates, we are compelled to issue a warning.
The Villages Computer Club and the Villages Computers Plus group agree, AND WE JOINTLY MAKE THE STRONGEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. THE Avast ANTIVIRUS PRODUCT MUST BE UNINSTALLED FROM EVERY DEVICE CURRRENTLY RUNNING IT. This includes phones and tablets as well, and this action should be taken as soon as possible.
We recommend uninstalling Avast using Revo Uninstaller (available at https://www.ninite.com for free) wherever it can be installed. Once Avast has been uninstalled and the PC has been rebooted, go to PC Settings (Windows Settings) and activate Windows Defender (the free antivirus program from Microsoft for Windows 10 & 8.1 users). If you prefer you can use another antivirus product, BUT DO NOT install the AVG antivirus program. Several years ago, AVG was purchased by AVAST – we need not say any more. With regard to tablets and smart phones, Avast should be uninstalled from these devices as well. The VCC & VCP are not prepared to recommend alternatives at this time. We therefore suggest you conduct a thorough search for a suitable tablet/smart phone alternative.
The Villages Computer Club
The Villages Computers Plus group