Avast Online Security, Avast SafePrice, AVG Online Security and AVG SafePrice now available again on Chrome, Firefox and Opera extension stores after they’ve been recently removed by Google, Mozilla and Opera Software over data collection reports.
Here is what happenned: Adblock Plus extension developer, Wladimir Palant found Avast Software and its subsidary AVG is spying on its 400 million users through its browser extensions.Palant claimed Avast online Security extension is sending more data than needed to Avast servers for the extension to work.
When Avast Online Security extension is active, it will request information about your visited websites from an Avast server. In the process, it will transmit data that allows reconstructing your entire web browsing history and much of your browsing behavior. The amount of data being sent goes far beyond what’s necessary for the extension to function, especially if you compare to competing solutions such as Google Safe Browsing.
As palant himself reported about extensions to Mozilla, Google and Opera Software, AMO removed the extensions first followed by Opera and Chrome WebStore.
Reportedly Avast has agreed about data collection (they get from via their extensions) which they sell to its Jumpshot customers, but the company claimed it will anonymize the info before doing that.
As of today, the extensions are back on respective extension store and available for download, we can notice they’ve been updated recently. We’re unsure of changes Avast made to their extensions to get them relisted. Security researchers need to recheck these to see are they still doing the practices they did before.
Users don’t need to install Avast/AVG online Security extensions in browsers as Google Safebrowsing powered Firefox, Chrome and Chromium-based browsers provide phishing protection and warn when you visit dangerous sites. Avast SafePrice is a extension that offers some deals when you visit shopping sites, which you really don’t need.
The exensions in question aren’t blacklisted by browser vendors, they were removed and re-added to addons stores, if you’ve these installed before, at least make an effort to updating to latest verison to avoid from being tracked.