Avast Antivirus Free

Avast Antivirus Free

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Avast Antivirus Free

1988–2000: Founding and company beginnings

After coming across the Vienna virus in 1988, researcher Pavel Baudiš of Prague’s Mathematical Machines Research Institute set to writing a program that would be able to successfully remove it. He then shared the program with his colleague, Eduard Kučera, and later that year the pair started ALWIL Software, which released the first Avast antivirus. Because of restrictions on forming a company in then-Czechoslovakia, ALWIL Software was founded as a cooperative. The Velvet Revolution, however, brought with it the introduction of the free market. In 1991 Baudiš and Kučera were able to register ALWIL Software as a joint-partnership company.[9]

Current COO and former CTO Ondrej Vlček joined ALWIL in 1995 as a student at the Czech Technical University[10] and wrote the company’s first antivirus for Windows 95.[11]The following year, Avast antivirus was one of the first three antivirus programs worldwide to win Virus Bulletin’s VB100 awards in all testing categories.

In 1997, ALWIL Software licensed the Avast antivirus engine to McAfee for use in its own line of McAfee VirusScan antivirus products.[9] Within the next seven years, the company reached the 1 million user mark for its Avast product, following the launch of a free antivirus solution for home (non-commercial) use in 2001.

2001–present: Avast Free Antivirus and global growth

ALWIL partnered with SanDisk in 2005, leading to language localization for all of SanDisk’s markets. In 2006, Avast reached 10 million users by the beginning and ended the year with 20 million; it also swept the SC Awards categories of Best Antivirus,[12] Anti-Malware (European) and Readers’ Choice (USA). The following year, ALWIL Software became a joint-stock company, and the number of registered Avast users reached 40 million, despite the company having just 38 employees. By 2009, there were more than 100 million users [13] and 100 employees; Vincent Steckler, formerly of Symantec, also joined ALWIL as CEO that year.

ALWIL Software changed its legal name to AVAST Software in 2010, and Summit Partners invested $100 million for a minority share of the company.[14] Over the next two years, Avast launched its Business Protection line and Avast Free Mobile Security, which became the best-rated security app on Google Play. In 2012, Avast Free Antivirus became the most-downloaded software on Download.com.

As of 2013, more than 200 million PCs, Macs and Android device users were protected with Avast programs. AVAST Software acquired the German company Secure.Me[15] and the U.S.-based start-up Jumpshot[16] that same year and was awarded “Best Employer 2013” for the Czech Republic in the category of large companies.[17] This was also the year that the Avast 2014 series, Avast SecureLine VPN, and Avast GrimeFighter were launched. In February 2014, CVC Capital Partners signed a binding agreement for a large-scale investment in Avast. Valuing the company at $1 billion, the investment was set to position CVC alongside Summit Partners and founders Baudiš and Kučera as Avast’s shareholders.[18]

In July 2014, Avast released data about a study carried out on 20 used Android smartphones in regards to data security, during which it was discovered that Android’s factory reset functionality did not delete all of the data from used phones; Avast found that it was able to retrieve 40,000 photos from used smartphones; news of this discovery made international headlines.[19] Avast then created a product called Avast Anti-Theft, which is able to wipe and overwrite all data from a phone.

That same month, Avast acquired a Czech-based mobile app company called Inmite, which has developed apps for mobile banking, mobile television, several applications forGoogle Glass, and a car-buying app for Škoda Auto.[20]

In October 2014 it was claimed[21] that since around December 2013, Avast had included its own shopping recommendation system, SafePrice, in its Online Security browser extension and had enabled it by default. The claims were rebutted[22] point-by-point in an Avast Community forum post made by Ondrej Vlcek, Avast’s Chief Operating Officer in response to the article.

Avast announced on July 7, 2016, that it had reached an agreement to purchase AVG Technologies for $1.3 billion.[8] The transaction is closed on September 30.[23]


Avast programs are only available to internet-connected devices, and are available in 45 languages. The Avast product range includes the following:[24]

Microsoft Windows products

  • Avast Free Antivirus – Free for non-commercial and home usage. This product’s features include antivirus with antispyware, Avast Passwords, Secure HTTPS scanning, streaming updates, hardened mode, DeepScreen, Home Network Security scanner, Do Not Track, SiteCorrect, antiphishing, anti-malware, Smart Scan, Rescue Disk, and Software Updater (manual). Requires 1-year registration and includes advertisements for other Avast products.
  • Avast Pro Antivirus – For home use. Includes all features of the Free version, with the addition of SafeZone Browser, Secure DNS, and Sandbox. Does not require registration, but does require a license or activation code.
  • Avast Internet Security – Includes all the features of Pro, with the addition of a silent firewall and antispam. Does not need registration, but does require a license or activation code.
  • Avast Premier – Includes all the features of Internet Security, with the addition of a data shredder, an “AccessAnywhere” service, and automatic software updater (for programs such as Google Chrome). Does not require registration, but does require a license or activation code.
  • Avast Cleanup – A PC cleaning tool and optimizer.
  • Avast SecureLine – A virtual private network for encrypted, anonymous communications and browsing via Wi-Fi.
  • Avast SafeZone Browser – A web browser that is installed with each Avast Antivirus product

Mac OS products

  • Avast Free Mac Security – An antivirus solution for Apple Macintosh machines running Mac OS X based on a central virus-scanning daemon; offers three shields, on-demand scanning and WebRep clients which are automatically (optionally) installed to Safari, Chrome and Firefox browsers.
  • Avast SecureLine – A virtual private network for encrypted, anonymous communications and browsing via Wi-Fi.

Android products

  • Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus – Freemium app for use on Android devices. Free version includes a virus scanner, virus removal, protector, network meter, app manager, app lock, backup, and a firewall on rooted phones. Paid version includes the features found in the free app plus app locking, geo-fencing, remote SMS, data recovery and identification, and extended backup.
  • Avast Anti-Theft/Anti-Theft Rooted – Locates and tracks lost mobile phones and can control phones remotely via SMS or desktop. Remotely locks or wipes phone memory.
  • Avast Battery Saver
  • Avast SecureLine – proprietary VPN
  • Avast Wi-Fi Finder
  • Avast Passwords
  • Avast App Locker

iOS products

  • Avast SecureLine – Proprietary VPN for iPhone and iPad
  • Avast SecureMe – Free VPN for WiFi
  • Avast Wi-Fi Finder
  • Avast Photo Space – Cloud Photo Storage
  • Avast Passwords

Business products

  • Avast for Business – Free for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It is a cross-platform solution that includes antivirus protection, Web threat scanning and integrated browser protection, and a cloud management console.[25]
  • Endpoint Protection/Protection Plus/Protection Suite/Protection Suite Plus
  • Email Server Security
  • File Server Security
  • Security Suite for Linux

Awards and certifications

Independent testing

  • Avast Free Antivirus 2016 has a detection rate of 99.5% in AV-Comparative’s real world protection test in April 2016.[26]
  • Avast Free Antivirus 2016 scored 98.8% protection against 0-day malware attacks in AV-Test’s Product Review and Certification Report – Mar-Apr/2016 [27]
  • Avast Free Antivirus 2016 received the highest rating for malware detection accuracy from SE Labs.[28]
  • Avast Free Antivirus received certification by satisfying the requirements for the Desktop Server AV Detection module from ICSA Labs Anti-Virus Certification Testing Laboratory.[29]
  • Avast Free Antivirus placed #1 in the May/June 2015 Performance test by AV-Comparatives.[30]
  • Avast received an Advanced rating in the Real-World Protection Test conducted August to November 2014.[31]
  • Avast received an Advanced rating in the Performance Test conducted October 2014.[32]

The Performance Test evaluates the impact of antivirus software on system performance compared to other Internet security products. It does not tell about the effectiveness of the protection and product provides. The test is performed on an up-to-date Windows 8.1 64-bit system. The awards are based on the observed test results and range from Advanced Plus, Advanced, Standard, and Tested.[33]

  • Avast Free Antivirus received the July/August 2015 AV-Test Certified badge for protection, performance, and usability.[34]
  • Avast Free Antivirus scored 100% in AV-Test’s May/June 2015 ‘Detection of widespread and prevalent malware’ test.[35]
  • Avast Free Mac Security scored 100% in malware detection in an April 2015 Mac AV-TEST.[36]
  • Avast home user products were marked as “AV-Test certified” in AV-Test’s January and February 2015 test-round.[37]
  • Avast Mobile Security received an “AV-Test certified” in AV-Test’s January 2015 test-round.[38]
  • Avast Free Antivirus received the VB100 certification in the December,2014 comparative anti-virus test.[39] Virus Bulletin is a security information portal, testing and certification body.

Download sites ratings

Download.com is the software download portal of CNET.

  • Avast Free Antivirus 2015 received a four and half star “Outstanding” Editor’s Choice Award in an October 2014 review.[40]
  • Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android received a four and half star “Outstanding” Editor’s Choice Award in a March 2013 review.[41]
  • Avast Free Antivirus 2015 received a five-star “Excellent” rating from Softpedia in October 2014.[42]

Other acknowledgements

  • Avast Free Antivirus 2016 is PCMag.com’s Editor’s Choice for free antivirus protection.[43]
  • In November 2013, AVAST Software was selected as the Czech Republic’s Best Employer of 2013, in the category of large-sized company.

About a week ago, we were playing around with installing a lot of nonsense from crapware sites, so we loaded up trusty Avast antivirus to see how much of the malware it would actually catch during the process. We were shocked to find out that some of the adware wasn’t from a third-party, but from Avast itself.

The problem lies in the SafePrice component of their Online Security extension, which adds shopping recommendations (ads) as you are browsing around the web.

Here’s the thing: many people actually want shopping extensions that help them find better prices — in fact, one of the HTG staff writers recently asked me what was the best way to find better prices. As a standalone product, if you  specifically and deliberately choose to install something like this, there’s nothing wrong with it.

The problem is that Avast snuck this component in to their browser extensions that have at least 10 million users for the Chrome version alone. And then they enabled it by default.

Note: as we were doing research for this article, they updated their extension to not include the shopping feature, but it was there since maybe around last December.

Spying, You Say?

You might remember earlier how we said that this extension is spying on you and, unlike many websites, we’re definitely not going to make some claim like that without proof of what is really going on. So we loaded up Fiddler to see what’s really going on behind the scenes and under the hood and behind the curtain.

As it turns out, every single URL that you visit was being sent to Avast servers — first there would be a check to /urlinfo on one of their servers, passing in a unique ID that represents you on every single request. In this way they can build a list of every single page you have ever visited. They claim on their web site that they remove all personally identifying information, but how, exactly, are they able to do that when they are tracking every single page you visit and sending back that URL with a unique ID to represent you?

Update: Avast contacted us to point out that the /urlinfo page that we showed in the screenshot is actually part of their security extension, which does make sense. The /offers page, however, is sending back data as well.

We warned you at the beginning of the year that many of your browser extensions are spying on you, tracking what you are visiting, and even inserting ads into pages. These aren’t just no-name developers either: even Avast, one of the most trusted antivirus vendors was in on the game.

Update 2: We just want to point out that this happened in the past, and Avast has cleaned up their act. They have a decent product, and while you can read this for historical purposes, you should know that many of the other antivirus vendors are doing worse things.

Update: Avast has posted a response to our article on their forum. We stand by our article and our research with the exception of one very inconsequential technical detail that we have updated below. The purpose of writing these types of articles isn’t to be vindictive — we just honestly want to make the world a better place for PC users.

Before we go even one step further, it’s important to note that they recently disabled the spying “shopping” feature in their browser extension. So if you are running the latest Chrome with extensions updated, you are fine. For now.

So Avast has stopped integrating the spying extension, but this is about the principle: you should be able to trust your antivirus provider. Why are they adding a feature that spies on your browsing, inserts ads… and all without properly notifying you?

And why, at the same time, are they claiming to stop spyware, even uninstalling other shopping extensions from other vendors, while they were doing the same thing they are supposed to stop?

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