Avast in the Hot Seat for Selling Users Data

By:  |  Category: Blog, Security Monday, January 27th, 2020  |  No Comments

According to a joint investigation by PCMag and Motherboard, the widely used antivirus solution Avast has been profiting off of selling users data to large enterprises like Home Depot, Microsoft and Pepsi and Google. Avast gained the information from its antivirus software, transferred it to its subsidiary Jumpshot, who then repackaged the data and sold it, sometimes for millions.

While Avast technically asked if users were ok if they shared data, users had no idea that Jumpshot was selling it.

The investigation implicates a long list of well known companies. The list includes Expedia, Intuit, Keurig, Condé Nast, Sephora, Loreal and more.

The data sold encompasses everything from Google searches, Google Maps location searches, activity on companies’ LinkedIn pages, YouTube video visits and data on people visiting porn websites. The data is classified as “anonymized”–not to include personal information, like names or contact info, but researchers believe it’s possible to de-anonymize certain users.

One product Jumpshot markets is an “All Clicks Feed,” which tracks users’ clicks across websites in precise detail. It’s advertised as “Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site.” According to the investigation, New York-based marketing firm Omnicom Media Group, signed up for the tool and paid Jumpshot $2,075,000 for access to data in 2019.

This isn’t the first time Avast has been caught compromising data. Just a couple months ago, Mozilla pulled Avast’s Online Security and SafePrice extensions for Firefox, as well as Avast’s AVG-branded equivalents, after they were found to be collecting much more data than necessary. Collecting and selling off this highly detailed info is especially troubling coming from Avast, a company whose primary function is to protect its users.

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Source: PCMag, Motherboard

Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-pointing-numeric-print-1342460/

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