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#1 2020-02-13 22:45:01

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 3,808
Website

Avast subsid. sells every search, every click, every buy on every site

This one I missed:

vice.com/en_us/article/qjdkq7/avast-antivirus-sells-user-browsing-data-investigation

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us any more, but I find this one particularly perfidious. It’s not just that it’s particularly galling when the company people pay to protect them against infiltration of their computers – that they place ‘unconditional trust’ in – then goes and abuses that by spying on them systematically. It also sidesteps all the other privacy related precautions people are taking with their browsers.

I get that it is a subsidiary of Avast, and not them themselves, but they obviously knew about it. They’ve responded now that a fass has been made but I would have thought this would make bigger waves and should come with a hefty penalty from consumers and legislators alike.

Almost all my work colleagues use Avast. I’ll be off to check their settings in the morning!


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#2 2020-02-14 01:03:07

phiw13
Plugin Author
From: Japan
Registered: 2004-02-27
Posts: 1,966
Website

Re: Avast subsid. sells every search, every click, every buy on every site

I get that it is a subsidiary of Avast, and not them themselves, but they obviously knew about it.

Of course they knew, and of course they were not bothered at all. Greed is good, right ? The reaction is every time a bit more subdued and confined to a subset of a subset of users who worry… for a while… Some apology of sorts is then issued and published, and then another way is found. Some people lose their jobs — don’t worry, plebs only — some are reassigned, and the wheel continues to turn. Same with that thing were all companies building voice assistance (Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft) were caught with their pants down (listening in). “Not us!”, collective scream, “third party”. “We will stop, honest”. New prefs on your device, whatever. Orwellian named, of course. Please read deep down in the explanation note and end-user agreement.

I could go on… up to the top. I’ll stop.

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#3 2020-02-14 10:23:16

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 3,808
Website

Re: Avast subsid. sells every search, every click, every buy on every site

I could go on… up to the top. I’ll stop.

Of course… It’s just particularly sickening from a provider whose business is (supposedly) predicated on protecting users against infiltration and you therefore give (and must give) particularly deep access rights to your computer.

This reported case was about selling internet usage data. But the same service also actively scans the entire file system on your computer and not just your selected interactions with the outside world…
I’m not making unfounded accusations but in my view a business that doesn’t honour what should be its key values in one arena shouldn’t be trusted in another.


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#4 2020-02-14 10:36:31

gaekwad
Admin
From: People's Republic of Cornwall
Registered: 2005-11-19
Posts: 2,875

Re: Avast subsid. sells every search, every click, every buy on every site

Former anti-virus vendor employee here. Malwarebytes is definitely worth a look for endpoint devices, and depending on the size/complexity of the organisation, something at the gateway would be worth looking at. Sophos appliances are excellent for this, though the UI can take a bit of getting used to.

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#5 2020-02-14 11:26:33

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 3,808
Website

Re: Avast subsid. sells every search, every click, every buy on every site

Thanks for the tips, Pete. I’m not an Avast user, so I’m not personally affected by this. I do use MalwareBytes, though.

Surfing behaviour and internet interaction is just one aspect here. What really gets me about this particular case is that it happens through a company that has such deep access to one’s computer.

You can opt not to use Goo…, F…book, Insta…, Twi… and it’s not that hard to find alternatives. You can use the internet less, go shopping locally, use cash more and read a newspaper. All that has mostly to do with what marketers know about you. I get that most people say “I have nothing to hide so…” and I accept that for many people being tracked is more of a nuisance than a breach of personal space.

At work, it’s not so “simple”: most working people, and freelancers like myself, have data from clients that belongs to the client and is up to them to publish as and when and in whatever form they see fit. One has an obligation to keep that data safe and secure and part of that frequently involves using an antivirus program to keep out viruses and trojans etc. Those services have to be able to look at your files in an unencrypted form to detect malware, and consequently those services must be trustworthy.

While there are alternatives like you mention, you must equally place this same level of trust in them. How do you judge? Antivirus handling isn’t really an aspect you can easily do as a DIY project. The scope of it is so large that there aren’t many principled “indie developers” you can choose to place your trust in (like I do with the Better blocker, for example). Most antivirus suppliers have in the meantime become large organisations, presumably with boards and capital backing and the third-party monetisation interests that come with that. I think such breaches of trust deserve to be made more of a fuss of precisely because of that.

So, kudos to people like Wladimir Palant (a Textpattern user no less) for calling them (and others) out!


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