Avast and AVG antivirus software tracks everything their users click online

Written 4 months ago by IanDorfman

If you're using the popular antivirus applications provided by Avast or AVG (both owned and operated by the same company), seek an alternative as soon as possible.

In a joint report published by Vice and PC Magazine, Avast subsidiary Jumpshot collects and repackages user data collected from installs of Small Avast Free Antivirus iconAvast Free Antivirus and Small AVG AntiVirus iconAVG AntiVirus and sells it to some of the world's biggest companies.

The data collected that Vice and PCMag were able to obtain includes the following:
• Google searches
• Lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps
• People visiting companies' LinkedIn pages
• Particular YouTube videos
• People visiting porn websites

Although this is all anonymized data, certain aspects could be ascertained. As an example, what date and time a user visited a video service, what keywords they searched, and what videos they've watched. This is more than enough specific context to deanonymize users for malicious actors.

The clients that have purchased this data include the following:
• Google
• Yelp
• Microsoft
• McKinsey
• Pepsi
• Home Depot
• Condé Nast
• Intuit

This data harvesting has a vast pool of those who may have not even seen that they opted into it; Avast claims to have over "435 million active users per month." It is highly recommended that you uninstall Avast and AVG as soon as you can and seek an alternative. For many, the Small Windows Defender iconWindows Defender security tool built into Small Windows 10 iconWindows 10 is enough, especially when coupled with an open source content blocker such as Small uBlock Origin iconuBlock Origin. Of course, there are plenty of options that can cater to the needs and preferences of every impacted antivirus user out there.

Further coverage:
Vice (Motherboard)
PCMag
gHacks Tech News
The Verge