AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.
I wonder how this number will change in next months...
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I wonder how this number will change in next months...
I'm actually quite interested to know that. Of course, as soon as the news broke that they were doing this, I pulled AVG off my machines - and I'd expect pretty much every other El Reg reader/commentard to have done the same.
The real question is whether Joe & Jane Bloggs will a) ever hear about it, and if they do, b) give a toss. Based on conversations I've been having with various people lately, most of them seem worryingly unbothered about having their personal data slurped and analysed, if it means they get Free Stuff.
The answer to your question is: yes. Even I saw the 4x5in pop-up that didn't auto-close, with their notification. I use AVGFree, but intend to firewall their reporting traffic. Or replace their software.
As far as I know this doesn't effect the paid for version so I can see no reason to change the majority of computers I've got running it. I've got a free version on my phone but that hasn't warned me and nor can I find an "opt out". Perhaps it's paid for and I've forgotten!
I left AVG when their demands to upgrade from the free edition got too annoying.
They of all people should understand the worthlessness of anonymisation to a sufficiently determined attacker (advertiser) after all they are the same people who have pioneers a lot of the big data analysis techniques.
We're in the process of dumping Avast as well as they seem to be following the same path as AVG in more ways than the Jumpstation adventure mentioned in the article.
The nag screens (even in the paid for enterprise version) have become unbearable, plus they are displayed to the wrong public. Nothing more fun than a bunch of irate users demanding to know why this software wants their credit card to update itself :-/
That, plus a failure to update the AV database on an ever growing number of PCs due to excessive RAM allocation pretty much makes it useless. The latter issue was reported early September and still no fix in sight.
Even Avast is a resource hog now compared to a few years ago.
The constant nagging that can't be disabled finally drove me away about 2 years back.
Using Bitdefender (free) these days, seems to consistently come high in detection ratings, minimal hassle (ideal for the parents), and just gets on with it.
We stopped using AVG cause it consistently scored badly (compared to other scanners) in AV tests. Their sales droids have been badgering me ever since to rejoin.
And then they pull a stunt like this? There are some excellent chainsaws now-a-days that I strongly encourage them to sit upon.
Having had various conversations with various folk about privacy, I've come to the conclusion that the total apathy most of them display is down to ignorance and misplaced trust in companies, and the government.
Whether its AVG and browsing history, NHS health records or GCHQ, one of these days the data will be stolen or leaked. Whenever I hear the protestations that data will be protected and is safe, I just think of Edward Snowden. Good job for the intelligence community he wasn't a BOFH.
Out of curiosity since we don't use windows, how are they proposing to collect this browser usage information?
At a guess, they would install an HTTP proxy and monitor all the traffic before it got to the browser, whichever one was in use.
Other AV packages I've seen already do this to filter malicious web content.
The whole thing would be defeated by using only HTTPS (unless they also installed a man-in-the-middle attack on the SSL connection, and that's been done before, too).
I'm sure AVG and everyone else already pad their data, but slurping additional "real" data adds a veneer of truthiness to the sell. If I'm flogging widgets using company XYZ's user data to find my target audience, I have no idea what to expect: if I sell stuff, great; if not, is it because the data is flawed or because my product is crap? Commence finger-pointing in five... four... three....
I got shot of AVG after 9.5 was updated to the bloatware they call an antivirus.
Removing or anonymization the data, then how will you get spammed via the post or email if AVG don't sell all your details. It's all BOLLOCKS.
Maybe they just want to perve at your private pictures.
They really didn't think, they supply Antivirus definitions to WatchGuard and other vendors to integrate in their products, all these others will now be quickly looking for another vendor that does not come with a PR nightmare!
I stopped using AVG since version 7, mostly as I didn't like the way it was starting to nag about the paid version...
Companies say that they will protect our data that they gather, but we, as a market, are increasingly concerned with who intercepts our data.
They might anonymise the data they receive but who can read the data in transit?
If the data is not essential to the programs purpose then we prefer our data not to leave our computer to be sprayed across the internet.
Trying to explain this in simple terms to elderly people will probably be a bit difficult. I'm trying to come up with an analogy and the current one is a company selling burglar alarms that then sells non-identifiable information on alarms, number of doors and windows on a house etc to criminals / all who pay. Can anyone come up with a better one?
They say they won't sell personal information such as names, emails, addresses, or payment card details. Does that mean that they have that information? If so, users are depending that AVG never gets hacked, or has a disgruntled employee leave with the data, etc.
I stopped using it years ago when it became more invasive and harder to uninstall than many viruses.
I know that someone with sufficient tech savvy really wants to get information from any of my devices they can, no matter what I do
But the argument that "they get all our stuff anyway" doesn't justify a vendor just giving away my information without my explicit permission. And I never give that permission.
I go through great pains to keep my devices as private and secure as I can. A part of that is I don't install free apps, subscribe to free services that have to make their money from "somewhere". I pay for all my apps and services, they all require minimal information, and have good SLA's (I DO read SLA's), which includes a guarantee of keeping the information I share with that vendor safe and secure.
Nobody just "gets my stuff anyway." If someone still wants any information on my devices they have to go after it and there can be no doubt they are doing it without my permission and committing theft.
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