The Firefox extensions store removed four plugins from Avast/AVG, including two that are supposed to keep users safe from malicious activity because they appeared to be stealing browser histories and other user data.
The four plugins are Avast Online Security and AVG Online Security (both billed as protection from malicious sites); and Avast Safeprice and AVG Safeprice (comparison shopping). They were analyzed by Adblock Plus creator Wladimir Palant late last month, who found them to be collecting "detailed user browsing history."
Palant reported the plugins to Mozilla developers, who removed them within 24 hours (they are still available in the Chrome plugin store, which, Palast says, is less responsive to reports like his). Avast says it working "to resolve the issue" and claims that the data-collection is needed to make its plugins work.
"The Avast Online Security extension is a security tool that protects users online, including from infected websites and phishing attacks," an Avast spokesperson told ZDNet. "It is necessary for this service to collect the URL history to deliver its expected functionality. Avast does this without collecting or storing a user's identification.
Mozilla removes Avast and AVG extensions from add-on portal over snooping claims [Catalin Cimpanu/Zdnet]
“The tactic, which experts in mobile-phone security said was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption, appears to have violated Google policies”
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