Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

Avast and AVG once again criticised for excessive data collection in security and shopping browser extensions

Google Chrome is the latest browser to drop AVG and Avast extensions after reports of excessive data snooping.

Back in October, a blog post from Wladimir Palant, founder and CTO at AdBlock Plus, highlighted that browser extensions created by the two security firms were hoovering up more data than necessary to function, especially versus rivals such as Google Safe Browsing. That data, according to the post, included user ID, where you're located, and how you got to a specific page.

After that report, Mozilla and Opera both pulled the AVG and Avast extensions, though the former reinstated one set of add-ons after changes to data collection were made. Google has now reportedly also followed that lead, removing the questionable extensions.

"I didn't expect to publish this update any more, but Avast extensions are now gone from Chrome Web Store as well," Palant tweeted. "Only AVG Online Security remains for some reason. Way to go Google!" The latter has 3,582 users, according to the Google Web Store.

Avast, which bought AVG in 2016, had not replied to a request for comment at the time of publishing.

Palant highlighted in his blog post four extensions: Avast Online Security, AVG Online Security, as well as the SafePrice shopping addon from both companies. Mozilla has since reinstated the Online Security addons, but not SafePrice.

Related Resource

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

How to manage security risk and compliance - whitepaperDownload now

"The data collected here goes far beyond merely exposing the sites that you visit and your search history," he explained. "Tracking tab and window identifiers as well as your actions allows Avast to create a nearly precise reconstruction of your browsing behaviour: 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."

This isn't the first time that Avast has been in trouble for data collection. Back in 2015, it was accused of using its extension to spy on users in a similar way, an accusation Avast denied in a forum statement saying all data collected was "essential" to provide the service. In 2018, the company pulled an update to CCleaner after backlash sparked by privacy settings, while in 2015 AVG was criticised for auto-installing a plugin into the Chrome browser.

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

Your essential guide to internet security
Security

Your essential guide to internet security

27 Jan 2021
US, UK say Russia was behind SolarWinds hack
cyber attacks

US, UK say Russia was behind SolarWinds hack

16 Apr 2021
1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation
IT infrastructure

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation

14 Apr 2021
PowerShell threats increased over 200% last year
cyber security

PowerShell threats increased over 200% last year

14 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack
cyber attacks

University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack

15 Apr 2021
NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server
servers

NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server

14 Apr 2021