AVG antivirus free version is the most popular software used by people to safeguard their safety against online threats. Users are asked to install some browser extensions when setting up the program on their computers. Recently, Mozilla has removed some browser extensions being offered by Avast and AVG antivirus programs. This was done as there were reports that these extensions were spying on the browsing behaviors of the customers and gathering this data. AVG customer care is not confirming these reports as of now.
The extensions that have been blamed for snooping on browsing history of users are AVG SafePrice, AVG Online Security, Avast SafePrice, and Avast Online Security. If you are not aware, Online Security extension claims to protect the user by disallowing visit to a malicious website. On the other hand, SafePrice browser extension says it works to apprise the user about websites where it can get higher discounts and better deals.
It appears that both these browser extensions are working in the interests of the users. However, the extensions of both AVG and Avast were found to be spying on the browsing habits of users and collecting this data. It was revealed by an independent developer called Wladimir Palant browser extensions of both AVG and Avast were collecting more data than they were supposed to be.
This researcher found that browser extensions named above were recording things like the country code of the user, his operating system, browser name and version, frequency of visit to the URL, and time spent on URL. It is clear that these extensions are trying to reconstruct the browsing history of the user which is not their purpose. Why should they know about the time spent on each URL, what apps do you click and where you move from these URLs is nto something that is required by the above mentioned browser extensions. Palant concluded that this entire enquiry by a browser extension is not usual and he smelled flu play on the part of the antivirus program. He wrote two blog posts to reveal the findings. However, when his findings were not taken seriously, he decided to contact Mozilla himself on 2 December to apprise them about the suspicious behavior of the browser extensions of Avast and AVG. All that AVG support center has said so far about this phenomenon is that they are working with Mozilla to get rid of the problem.
A spokesperson of AVG has sought to clarify the whole situation saying that its security extension is trying to protect users from malicious websites and also from phishing attacks. He said that collection of URL history from the user is a part of this exercise and there is nothing unusual about it. However, Mozilla has swiftly taken action and removed the above mentioned extensions from its ass-on repository. Surprisingly, all 4 extensions are still available on Chrome web store.