Editors select and review products independently. If you purchase through affiliate links, we can make commissions to help with our testing.
Editor’s Note: In January 2020, we discovered an issue with the sharing of user data between Avastand’s Assistant Jumpshot. Based on this privacy slide, we’ve downgraded this version of the product to half a star and removed the Editors’ Choice logo. Avast solved the problem and then ended up with Jumpshotshortly. Since then, we have not seen any signs of misuse of personal user information, so we removed Avast from sanction, restoring it to star rating and editorial selection.
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Be weak. After expanding the browser, Avast talked about sending consumer data to marketers. The anti-virus company tried to justify this practice last month before the collected web stories disseminated users’ personal information.
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“The information is fully disclosed and collected and may not be used to identify or use you personally,” Avast told users who decided to share the information. In contrast, your privacy is maintained, Avast is chargeable, and online marketers receive “general” consumer information in order to sell more products.
There is only one problem: what should be the huge amount of non-anonymous web history data and what can really be linked to individual Avast users, according to a joint Motherboard poll (a new window will open).
Avast’s data sales department, Jumpshot, is a subsidiary of the company that provides 100 million devices, including computers and phones, to access user traffic. Instead, customers – from big brands to e-commerce providers – can find out what and where consumers are buying from Google or Amazon, a news article, an ad, or an Instagram post.
The data collected is so detailed that customers can view individual user clicks during browser sessions, including up to milliseconds. Although the information collected is never associated with a person’s name, email, or IP address, each user’s history is assigned an identifier called a device ID, which continues until the user removes the antivirus product from Avast.
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Clicking on it seems harmless at first glance. You cannot link this to an exact user. This means that if you are not on Amazon.com, you can easily understand that an Amazon user purchased an iPad Pro on December 1, 2019 at 12/03/05. Sudden Device ID: 123abcx is a known user. 123abcx’s activities – from other e-commerce purchases to Google searches – are more than anonymous.
And the motherboard learned the details of the data collection from a source familiar with Jumpshot products. And the privacy experts we talked to provided information about the schedule, along with the device IDs and URLs we collected, which could be analyzed to reveal someone’s identity.
“Most of the dangers of anonymity – you identify people – come from the ability to combine information with other information,” said Gunes Akar, a private investigator for web surveillance.
This shows that large companies like Amazon, Google, brand resellers, and marketing companies can collect all activity logs from users. With Jumpshot data, businesses have another way to find users’ digital footprints online.
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“Maybe the (jump) information doesn’t identify people themselves,” Akar said. “Maybe it’s a list of lost usernames and a list of some URLs. But it can always be combined with data from other marketers, other advertisers, who can come to the right person.”
According to internal documents, Jumpshot offers a variety of products that serve a variety of browsing data. For example, one product focuses on people searches, including keywords used and published results.
We looked at a screenshot of the data we collected and saw logs of questions on a daily basis. But there are also sensitive searches for pornography, including underage sex – information that no one wants to associate with.
Other Jumpshot products are designed to track what users are watching on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. It revolves around analyzing your chosen e-commerce domain to help other users understand how they achieved it.
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But when it comes to one customer, Jumpshot seems to promise everything. In December 2018, the main marketing provider Omnikom Media Group signed an agreement to acquire the so-called “All Clicks Feed” or Jumpshot collected from Avast users. Typically, all click traffic is sold without the device IDs from the “PII Triangle (Personal Information)” Quick Shooting Product Guide. As for Omnikom, Jumpshot will ship the product with the device IDs attached to each click.
In addition, the agreement requires each site that accesses Jumpshot to provide a URL line, a link URL, a period of up to milliseconds, and the age and gender of the user, which may indicate which sites the person is based on. to come
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. The company did not answer our questions. However, the agreement raises concerns about Omnicom’s ability to disclose Jumpshot data to identify individual users.
Although Omnikom does not have a core Internet platform, Jumpshot data is sent to its subsidiary Annalect, which provides technological solutions that help companies integrate their customers’ data with third-party data. The three-year agreement entered into force in January 2019, allowing Omnickom to publish daily print data in 14 markets, including the United States, India and the United Kingdom. Jumpshot, on the other hand, costs $ 6.5 million.
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It remains unclear who will still be able to access Jumpshot data. The company’s website says it works with other brands, including IBM, Microsoft and Google. However, Microsoft has said it has nothing to do with Jumpshot at this time. In contrast, IBM does not have a record of being an Avast or Jumpshot customer. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Other customers mentioned in Jumpshot’s marketing include consumer goods companies Unilever, Nestle Purina and Kimberly-Clark, in addition to TurboTax provider Intuit. Market research and consulting firms are also known as McKinsey & Company and GfK, who declined to comment on their partnership with Jumpshot. Attempts to confirm other customer relationships were largely unanswered. However, the documents received may go to venture capital firms.
Vladimir Palant is a security researcher who launched Avast’s data collection policy last month. In October, they noticed something strange with the anti-virus browser extensions (Opens in a new window): they register every website with a username and send information about Avast.
Research has led to its expansion as a spyware program. In response, Google and Mozilla temporarily removed them before Avast implemented the new privacy protections. However, when Palant Avast understood the history of “de-identification” and “aggregated” consumer browsers, the anti-virus company explicitly forbade the exact technical process.
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“An entity usually means a combination of multiple user data. When Jumpshot customers see data from individual users, it’s really bad,” Palant said in an email interview.
Avast uses a single Jumpshot process to remove PII information, such as names and email addresses, from aggregated URLs (opens in a new window). However, even with the drawing of personal data, Palant says that collecting data unnecessarily poses a privacy risk to Avast users.
“It’s hard to imagine that the anonymization algorithm could delete all the data. There are so many websites out there and each one does something different,” he said. For example, Palant shows the arrival. Aggregated URLs per user can identify tweets or videos with personal comments and reveal the user’s true identity.
“The data is almost impossible to identify,” said Eric Goldman, director of the Institute of Technical Law at the University of Santa Clara, who also has a problem with an antivirus company that monitors consumer data. “It seems like a very dangerous business practice.
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We asked Avast more than a dozen questions about the amount of information we gathered, with whom we shared information about Omnikom’s contract. He declined to answer most of our questions or refused to contact us for a snapshot that did not answer our calls or emails. However, he said that Avast, Avast and AVG have stopped collecting consumer data for marketing purposes through browser extensions.
“We have completely stopped using browser-specific data for purposes other than basic security,” the company said in a statement.
However, the Avast’s Jumpshot section can collect your browsing history through Avast’s main antivirus and mobile antivirus applications. This includes AVG antivirus and Avast. Data is collected through the Web Shield component of the program, which also scans the URL in your browser for malware or fraud.
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