Author Topic: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)  (Read 50116 times)

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Offline Techknow

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2014, 11:43:05 PM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?

Offline bob3160

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #31 on: October 28, 2014, 12:09:12 AM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?
If you are so suspicious of Avast's activity, why are you using it ? Are you actually using Avast ???
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Offline Techknow

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #32 on: October 28, 2014, 03:30:49 AM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?
If you are so suspicious of Avast's activity, why are you using it ? Are you actually using Avast ???

Bob, you really are doing a disservice to Avast and the community with your nonsense posts.

Nowhere did I say I was suspicious.  I simply asked a few simple questions to understand how Avast software works and what data is sent from systems on which Avast is installed.  These are very reasonable questions to anyone who is reasonable.

I would appreciate it if you restrain yourself and do not respond to any posts I write.  I do not find your responses helpful.

Offline user-name

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2014, 03:39:35 AM »
This is fairly detailed.


http://www.avast.com/privacy-policy
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 04:09:39 AM by Charyb »

Offline jraju

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #34 on: October 28, 2014, 05:13:46 AM »
Hi, I do not find anything wrong in asking reasonable question to the forum as techknow clarifies.
          I also think that some members use extreme language, when posting like the one , questioning why one should use avast ?
               There must be moderators to check the posts, before publishing as unwanted posts may create healthy community forum subjects becoming non relevant.

Offline bob3160

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2014, 12:49:51 PM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?
If you are so suspicious of Avast's activity, why are you using it ? Are you actually using Avast ???

Bob, you really are doing a disservice to Avast and the community with your nonsense posts.

Nowhere did I say I was suspicious.  I simply asked a few simple questions to understand how Avast software works and what data is sent from systems on which Avast is installed.  These are very reasonable questions to anyone who is reasonable.

I would appreciate it if you restrain yourself and do not respond to any posts I write.  I do not find your responses helpful.
Simple question, are you using Avast ??? If so, which version ???
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Offline RejZoR

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #36 on: October 28, 2014, 01:29:53 PM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?

All AV's that perform URL blocking send ALL URL addresses to HQ for mathcing against blacklists. It's the only way to make URL blokcing super effective because it will become effective the moment virus lab releases a blacklisted entry. Unlike with local bases that are updated hourly or even less often. There is no way going around this fact. Either you have to submit the URL's to them or you won't have a good protection.
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Offline bob3160

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #37 on: October 28, 2014, 01:40:00 PM »
Cloud service = Sending information to a server.
Without Cloud service you would depend on static protection.
The cloud service or the server is constantly updated by information which is fed to it by
all members of the Avast Community. This gives you as up to date protection as possible.
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Offline jraju

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #38 on: October 28, 2014, 02:23:13 PM »
Hi, Bob
                     I use only Avast and the recent reported activity cause concern to clarify. That is it

Offline Techknow

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #39 on: October 28, 2014, 06:07:22 PM »
Let me start by saying that Avast’s browser extensions, together with some other modules inside Avast, rely heavily on cloud functionality. That is, in the particular case of URL scanning, we do transfer the URL the user is visiting, together with additional metadata to the Avast cloud, which then does the necessary processing and synchronously returns the answer. By scanning URLs in the cloud, Avast is able to detect malicious activity, from viruses and malware, phishing and hacking. You may not realize but collecting URL information for this very purpose is extremely common in the security industry, as this information is essential to providing this kind of service.
... If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Vlk

Can you expand on this a little?  Three questions:
  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?
  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?
  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?

All AV's that perform URL blocking send ALL URL addresses to HQ for mathcing against blacklists. It's the only way to make URL blokcing super effective because it will become effective the moment virus lab releases a blacklisted entry. Unlike with local bases that are updated hourly or even less often. There is no way going around this fact. Either you have to submit the URL's to them or you won't have a good protection.

This is not true.  Avast has implemented very effective "streaming" updates which keep your LOCAL anti-virus databases current.  With Avast's streaming updates, there is no need to send everything that needs to be scanned to someone else's server.

You seem to be claiming that in order for the core functionality of Avast to work, that every URL you visit is sent to Avast.  I doubt that is true, but it might be, and I would like to hear an answer directly from Avast.

Even Google, a company notorious for collecting data about millions of people, sends their blacklists directly to the clients so that every URL that is visited is not sent to Google.

Frankly, the obvious overposters on this forum are so hyper-emotional and defensive that they prevent real customers from understanding important information about Avast products.

Offline Pondus

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #40 on: October 28, 2014, 06:26:53 PM »
Quote
.You seem to be claiming that in order for the core functionality of Avast to work, that every URL you visit is sent to Avast.  I doubt that is true, but it might be, and I would like to hear an answer directly from Avast.     
Then read the post from vlk


Offline bob3160

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #41 on: October 28, 2014, 06:33:28 PM »
I've reported this to the Moderators which will hopefully result in a reply from Avast.
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Offline Techknow

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #42 on: October 28, 2014, 07:02:37 PM »
Quote
.You seem to be claiming that in order for the core functionality of Avast to work, that every URL you visit is sent to Avast.  I doubt that is true, but it might be, and I would like to hear an answer directly from Avast.     
Then read the post from vlk

Ugh.  Are you trolling?

Clearly, I did read the post from Vlk (I quoted it), but it is a bit unclear.  Vlk talks about 'URL scanning'.  It is unclear if this only occurs as part of a browser extension or part of Avast core functionality.  I think it is just part of the optional browser extension, and have requested clarification.

I'm starting to understand why this forum has such a bad reputation.

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #43 on: October 28, 2014, 07:07:16 PM »
Clarify please, Bad Reputation with whom?
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Offline Vlk

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Re: Avast Antivirus Was Spying On You with Adware (Until This Week)
« Reply #44 on: October 30, 2014, 09:58:36 AM »
Sorry for the late reply guys.

  (1) Which Avast browser extensions send every URL people visit to Avast?

Both (Avast Online Security and Avast SafePrice). Although in case of SafePrice itself, we will likely change it to send domains only for non-shopping sites.

  (2) Is the entire URL sent including URL parameters (generally the portion after the question mark in the URL)?

Kind of. There is some elementary stripping done in the extension, but then a more comprehensive one done on the backend.

  (3) If the Avast browser extensions are disabled, but all the Avast shields are enabled, are any URLs or filenames sent to Avast?

Yes, absolutely. For example, the pathname and hash of every EXE you're executing (that's "FileRep"). Often accompanied by additional metadata, including the URL the file was downloaded from. And there is more occurences like this.

Again, this is what's usually referred to as "cloud AV". It uses the cloud part of the engine to do at least part of the heavylifting. And of course, this is only possible if the requests are sufficiently rich.

I an quite certain that's what all good AVs do these days.

This is not true.  Avast has implemented very effective "streaming" updates which keep your LOCAL anti-virus databases current.  With Avast's streaming updates, there is no need to send everything that needs to be scanned to someone else's server.

This is true, Avast is still what I call a "hybrid" AV. That is, it relies on the cloud but still keeps a good database locally to allow it to make some good decisions even in the offline scenarios. With that said, the cloud part is getting more and more important for us. Nothing can beat the power of big data and to cope with today's threats, it is really almost impossible to realy on local definitions only. Not to mention that even the creation of those local definitions now absolutely relies on the data that we receive from our users, through channels like discussed above.

You seem to be claiming that in order for the core functionality of Avast to work, that every URL you visit is sent to Avast.  I doubt that is true, but it might be, and I would like to hear an answer directly from Avast.

Well, again, the basic mechanism is quite simple here: the URLs is sent to the cloud to be checked. The local database does part of that job, but some parts of the logic are cloud only and need to be cloud only.

Even Google, a company notorious for collecting data about millions of people, sends their blacklists directly to the clients so that every URL that is visited is not sent to Google.

I don't think you're right here. Both Chrome and Firefox use Google SafeBrowsing API https://developers.google.com/safe-browsing/ and this is essentially the same thing as we're talking about here: a cloud-based API for real time lookups.


Thanks
Vlk
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