Author Topic: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC  (Read 811 times)

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Offline mijewen

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Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« on: August 12, 2019, 12:20:03 AM »
I use the free version of Avast virus protection, and as such, I accept the stream of advertising that comes with it.  A couple of years back, I paid the subscription for a year, believing that the adverts would stop, but they didn't, so I ended the subscription.  Also, I run a single device (laptop PC - no phone or other), so I didn't get much advantage from the subscription service.

I have been having performance issues, so I looked in Resource Manager in the hopes of finding what was causing them.  Quite high on the list, I found "Avast Secure Browser".  I did not know I had it, but I thought it was, perhaps, a part of the Avast security software, but a bit of Internet research told me that it is a stand-alone program using resources and slowing down my PC.  I de-installed it, and I have a little more available memory now, and a few more CPU cycles.  What really bothers me about it is that it was put there without my knowledge or permission - very much in the same way that malware gets onto people's PCs.  I really don't like this mode of operation of the company.  If ever I am asked by somebody for a recommendation, that will certainly figure in what I tell that person.

I went back to Resource Monitor to see what else I could find, and one of the programs taking resource was "VPN.exe" - and the description is "Avast Secureline VPN" (running 40 threads).  What is it doing there?  I looked up VPN.exe and found it was a Microsoft program - but am I mistaken in assuming that Avast has replaced it with their own?  I certainly know from the advertising stream that Avast is pushing VPN, but I already have NordVPN, so I don't need another.  I also have "Avast Secureline VPN Service" (running a further 26 threads). 
Please tell me
1. what these two programs are
2. how they got there
3. whether I am getting any benefit from them
4. whether I would suffer any consequence from removing them

I also have Avast Behaviour Shield, but I gather that is part of the protection software.

I am hugely grateful to Avast for the protection they have offered me, but from what I have seen and read of them today, they are employing tactics that I do not like!  When it comes to performance, it seems Avast is part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 12:24:53 AM by mijewen »

Offline LeahG xx

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Re: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 01:51:15 AM »
SecureLine VPN is Avast's own VPN client and Avast Secure Browser is a secure, private internet browser powered by Avast. SecureLine VPN and Avast Secure Browser are not included with Avast Free Antivirus, however they are included in paid versions like Avast Pro Antivirus and Avast Internet Security and were likely installed when you upgraded to the paid version. Standalone versions are also available.

When you installed Avast you would have been given the option to perform a "full" or "custom" installation. A "full" installation will automatically install all recommended software, including SecureLine VPN and Secure Browser. Selecting a "full" installation is seen as providing consent to install these programs. This is normal practice for many genuine software developers, not just Avast, in order to get users to install and try more of their software. If you do not wish to install the additional features when you install an Avast product you should select "custom" installation where you can select which features you would like to install.

In terms of how much benefit you will get from them, if you already have a paid subscription to another VPN client then I can't see how you would benefit from SecureLine as it also requires a subscription.

Avast Secure Browser, on the other hand, can provide some benefit by keeping you and your personal details hidden and secure while you browse the internet. You can read more about it here: https://www.avast.com/secure-browser

If you do not wish to use these features you can safely uninstall them following the articles below.

To remove SecureLine VPN: https://support.avast.com/en-gb/article/Uninstall-SecureLine-VPN

To remove Secure Browser: https://support.avast.com/en-gb/article/30

To add/remove other Avast features: https://support.avast.com/en-eu/article/96

VPN.exe is not a Windows process. If it is described as "Avast SecureLine VPN" then it probably is from SecureLine. However, if it is still present after you have removed SecureLine from your system, check to see if it is now being used by another VPN client. You can also check the file path of the process to see what app it belongs to. If the file path leads to anywhere other than Avast SecureLine or your chosen client then it may possibly be malware disguising itself as a genuine process.

Avast Behaviour Shield is indeed one of the necessary protection features and it is recommended to keep it installed and active to detect suspicious behaviour from potentially malicious apps and files.

I hope this answers your questions.
My zombie/Frankenstein PC's specs:
Avast Free Antivirus, Windows 10 Home x64, Intel Core i5-650 (legacy), nVidia GeForce 9800 GT (legacy), Kingston A400 SSD, 12GB DDR3 RAM, MSI 2A9C (legacy)
I know, I'm too poor for new stuff...

Offline schmidthouse

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Re: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 04:07:44 PM »
SecureLine VPN is Avast's own VPN client and Avast Secure Browser is a secure, private internet browser powered by Avast. SecureLine VPN and Avast Secure Browser are not included with Avast Free Antivirus, however they are included in paid versions like Avast Pro Antivirus and Avast Internet Security and were likely installed when you upgraded to the paid version. Standalone versions are also available.

When you installed Avast you would have been given the option to perform a "full" or "custom" installation. A "full" installation will automatically install all recommended software, including SecureLine VPN and Secure Browser. Selecting a "full" installation is seen as providing consent to install these programs. This is normal practice for many genuine software developers, not just Avast, in order to get users to install and try more of their software. If you do not wish to install the additional features when you install an Avast product you should select "custom" installation where you can select which features you would like to install.

To be clear, Yes they are installed in 'full installation' However Secureline is a "separately" paid for service on top of the paid-for Avast Antivirus subscriptions. Avast Secureline needs to be purchased monthly or yearly to have Securline active. If installed and not paid for, popups will appear trying to sell you on subscribing :)
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 04:09:41 PM by schmidthouse »
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Offline LeahG xx

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Re: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 05:21:38 PM »
Hi schmidthouse,
Yes I maybe could have been clearer about that, although I did mention it further down my post.
My zombie/Frankenstein PC's specs:
Avast Free Antivirus, Windows 10 Home x64, Intel Core i5-650 (legacy), nVidia GeForce 9800 GT (legacy), Kingston A400 SSD, 12GB DDR3 RAM, MSI 2A9C (legacy)
I know, I'm too poor for new stuff...

Offline schmidthouse

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Re: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 05:52:24 PM »
Hi schmidthouse,
Yes I maybe could have been clearer about that, although I did mention it further down my post.

No worries, it's all good. :)
***HP ENVY 15K LT W10 Pro 1903 64Bit/750GB HD/16GB Ram/Avast Premier 19.7.2388 /VS 5.02(WC)/ASB/Mbam 4/Secureline b. 5.4/SANDBOXIE/Prey Project
**HP Compaq 8510p LT W10 Pro 1903 64Bit/1TB HD/8GB Ram/Avast Premier BETA 19.8.2391 /VS 5.02(WC)/ASB beta/Secureline b 5.4/SANDBOXIE/Prey Project 
     
*Dell Inspiron XPsp4 PRO 32Bit/Avast(since 2000)18.8.2356/OSA/WP/Comodo FW 3.14/Secureline/Comodo IceDragon v.40
<LAYERED SECURITY SOFTWARE PROTECTION ALL>

Offline bob3160

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Re: Avast software that has sneaked onto my pC
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2019, 11:54:10 PM »
Time to get into the habit of doing a custom install and uncheck the items that aren't part of the free version.
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