Following recent reports about Avast selling users data to 3rd parties via its subsidiary Jumpshot, Avast software has ceased Jumpshot operations and issued an apology. After this happened, a few days back Avast released a new product update, Avast Free Antivirus 20.1. The update doesn’t install browser extensions (which have been pulled recently by Google and Mozilla on their extension stores) out of the box which helps avast behind the scenes to collect user browsing data, enables new privacy settings (by default) and shows more advertisements related to Avast and of 3rd party to Avast free AV users.
For the unknown, a joint investigation led by PC Mag and Motherboard revealed that Avast is grabbing its free Antivirus user web browsing data and selling that to third-parties through Jumpshot. The news sites found Jumpshot’s anonymized data is not completely anonymous after all and can be traced down to identify a specific customer. You can read more this here and here.
A week back Avast Software released Avas 20.1 with bug fixes. As Avast promised they’ll stop the data collection, this has been reflected through new privacy settings in the Avast Free antivirus where these are enabled by default.
Seems as if Browser extensions aren’t installed by Avast automatically (we can confirm this as Avast’s Recommended installation mode shows Browser extensions unchecked in the setup dialog) and Via changelog the company suggested users to improve browsing with the latest extension by navigating to menu > browser extensions.
Avast indirectly told free AV users will see popups about Avast Cleanup Premium if they’ve not installed it.
The new privacy settings which you can uncheck after installing Avast Free Antivirus by visiting Settings > General > Privacy, informs free antivirus shares threat data, app-usage data with Avast where the company, in turn, shares it with 3rd- party analytics to improve the app.
Avast also shares the collected app- usage data to display advertisements about 3rd party apps such as Google Chrome. All in all, Avast’s way of seeing Avast free AV users as product isn’t going to change anytime.
Here is Avast’s old Privacy Settings screen that enabled the user’s web browsing data collection.
Avast Free Antivirus 20.1 changelog:
Browser extensions – Improve your browsing with our latest extensions (just open Menu > Browser extensions)
Fewer popups – If you already have Avast Cleanup Premium, you’ll no longer see offers for it (sorry about that!)
Improved statuses – The status messages you see on the main screen are now easier to understand
Fixed Rescue Disk – You can now use Rescue Disk again to restore your PC from advanced attacks
Other bug fixes – We’ve stomped dozens of other bugs to keep everything running smoothly
Fixed problem with logs not correctly rotating (logs had hundreds of MB in some cases)
Fixed issues in Smart scan that performance scan does not find any problems
Fixed issue with stuck Smart scan
You can download Avast from here.