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Why Your Browser History is at Risk from Free Antivirus Programs

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Free antivirus programs are popular for a variety of reasons.

They help users make up their minds regarding the best antivirus program to choose. They also help users who do not have the money to buy antivirus programs but are in need of adequate protection for their devices against malware, worms, and viruses. Reports indicate that some free antivirus programs are not trustworthy since they sell data concerning their clients.

Shocking Discovery

The reports above point to the likelihood of users discovering that the free antivirus programs they were using sell their browsing history to advertisers. This indicates the fact that some of the free antivirus programs are only interested in acquiring information from users and sharing this with other organizations for profit. Although this is only applicable to non-personal data, users might find such information a bit disturbing.

AVG Sells Browser and Search History

Currently, AVG has confirmed that it does this. Therefore, any user who downloads and installs free AVG antivirus should be cognizant of the fact that his non-personal data will soon be available to third parties. AVG has reiterated that it has never hidden this fact away from users albeit with different wordings. According to security experts, the revelation by AVG makes it similar to spyware, which also collects and sells browsing history to third parties.

AVG goes further ahead to collect search history as well. This could lead to the conclusion that some of the antivirus programs are engaging in unethical behavior. However, the way out of this is for users to go through the fine details of what each free antivirus program publishes regarding its policies where privacy, search and browser history is concerned. The antivirus program has to say clearly that it does not collect or sell browsing and search history.

Users’ Freedom to Choose

A spokesperson from AVG stated that the company will provide users with the opportunity to say whether they want it to use their non-personal data commercially. Any user who does not want AVG to use his non-personal data in this manner will be free to turn it off yet continue to enjoy the full functionality of all the features and apps that the antivirus program has. The company has said that it intends to use other means to raise money, and these include:

  • Subscription
  • Ads
  • Data models

When this happens, AVG might no longer collect and sell the search and browsing history of users to third parties. Security experts state that users should not believe in free lunches or products wholeheartedly. This is because where free products are concerned, companies are offering such items usually gain more from the user or client. The news from AVG has made users ask whether other antivirus companies do the same.