There’s no such thing as a “free lunch”, or a “free” antivirus. In fact, the cost to your privacy is dear.
Today’s example comes from Avast, a company that distributes both free and paid antivirus software. The free version isn’t truly free, and the cost to your privacy may be too high. Here’s why…
According to a feature story on PCMag: “Avast is harvesting users’ browser histories on the pretext that the data has been ‘de-identified,’ thus protecting your privacy. But the data, which is being sold to third parties, can be linked back to people’s real identities, exposing every click and search they’ve made.”
And to put the scale of this privacy invasion into context, more than 100 million devices are exposed:
Jumpshot, an Avast division responsible for selling data, accesses user data from Avast Antivirus’ free browser extension. According to the report, Jumpshot has access to data from over 100 million devices, including PCs and mobile devices.
Here’s a look at a user’s click from the same article, and taken at face value it doesn’t seem “harmful”:
But now comes the creepy part. Companies like Amazon can decipher this “click” and find out which of their users purchased this “device ID.”
Then it gets even more creepy. Amazon will use this data to not only find out the user’s shopping history on their platform … but also other shopping platforms.
This is because the data collected from one place can be merged with data collected in other places, potentially exposing the real identity of the person.
Privacy researcher Gunes Acar explained why this snooping is possible:
“Maybe the (Jumpshot) data itself is not identifying people,” Acar said. “Maybe it’s just a list of hashed user IDs and some URLs. But it can always be combined with other data from other marketers, other advertisers, who can basically arrive at the real identity.”
But what may be even more interesting is a data profile like this can also potentially find its way to industry giants, who have the resources to do even more with it.
Google and other big companies could be buying your data
While companies like IBM and Microsoft are using careful language like “no current relationship” when talking about Jumpshot, Google didn’t respond to inquiries about its potential business with Jumpshot.
All three companies were listed on Jumpshot’s marketing, according to the PC Mag feature.
But imagine the privacy-invading possibilities if any of these giants acquired a data profile like the one Jumpshot is selling? They have virtually unlimited resources to devote to exploiting a data goldmine like that for their own profit.
PCMag imagined exactly that scenario, and stopped recommending Avast’s free antivirus software. It might be a good idea for you to take their advice to heart.
Bottom line, these companies don’t care about your privacy
There are public databases that track your exact location, eating habits, spending habits, your income, your online habits, and many other parts of your private life.
With just a few clicks, a phone call, and a few dollars almost everything someone wants to find out about you can quickly be put together into a complete file.
That’s why I want to tell you about our popular “Go Off the Grid” report, which is your blueprint for living a truly private life.
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If you are serious about protecting your privacy from irresponsible companies, the Government, and other snoops, then you don’t want to miss this valuable report…
To living privately,
Location Independent Entrepreneur
P.S. Once this story broke, it appears that Avast shut down its Jumpshot operation altogether. But there are many other companies like Jumpshot that are still operating. So if you want to preserve what’s left of your privacy…
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