Mozilla drops top security tools for poked fears

Mozilla has removed four Firefox extensions created by Avast and its subsidiary AVG after receiving credible reports that the extensions were already collecting user data as well as user browsing history.

The four extensions that have been removed are considered to be Avast Internet Security, AVG Online Security, Avast SafePrice and AVG SafePrice. The first two display warnings when users navigate to known malicious or suspicious sites, while the other two show price comparisons and offers for online shoppers.

The fact that the extensions were collecting much more data than required was discovered by Adblock Plus' creator Vladimir Palant, who sent a report to Mozilla Firefox and informed the manufacturer of his discovery.

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After analyzing the Avast Internet Security and AVG Internet Security extensions last month, Palant found that they both collect additional data, including the user's detailed browsing history.

Unnecessary poked

Palant posted a blog detailing his findings at the end of October, but in a second blog post, he revealed that Avast's SafePrice and AVG SafePrice extensions were also collecting unnecessary data.

Palant's first blog post didn't get the attention he thought, and so he reported extensions to Mozilla developers. For Firefox, Maker quickly took action and removed all four add-ons from its portal within 24 hours.

However, at the time of writing, four extensions are still available on the web store. In his second blog post, Palant described how difficult it is to get a reprieve removed from Google Chrome, saying:

“What about Google? Google Chrome is where the vast majority of these users are. The only official way to report a renewal is here with the “report abuse” link. I have used this one, of course, but previous experience shows that it has no effect. Extensions have only ever been removed from the Chrome Web Store following significant news.”

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Collecting a user's browsing history is strictly prohibited by both Mozilla and Google, so expect four extensions from Avast and AVG to be removed from the Chrome web store soon.

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Through ZDNet website

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