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Popular free anti-virus may sell your browser history to advertisers

Popular free anti-virus may sell your browser history to advertisers
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We're big fans of security software here at Komando.com. Without some kind of protection on your computer, you can expect to pick up a virus in no time after going online. Security is the first thing anyone should install when setting up a computer.

That's why free security software is such a lifesaver; people who would never pay for security can still be protected. Of course, when it comes to technology "free" is a relative term, as one major anti-virus company is now admitting.

"Free" sites and programs make money a lot of ways, from showing ads or collecting information for advertisers to bundling third-party toolbars or charging for extras. Most free security software stays free by offering incentives to upgrade to premium versions, along with revenue from business sales.

However, it looks like that isn't enough to keep some companies going, and so they're turning to advertising. In an effort to be transparent about this, one of the top free security providers has updated its privacy policy, and it's got plenty of people up in arms.

The security provider in question is AVG. According to Opswat, it's the third most popular in the world behind Avast and Microsoft. However, it might be dropping in the charts once more users learn that it could be selling your searches and browsing history to advertisers.

Past versions of AVG said it collected "the words you search" to share with advertisers, but its new privacy policy going into effect October 15 changes that to "non-personal data." That can cover a range of data from searches and browsing history to data models.

AVG maintains that if it delivers any data to advertisers it will be anonymized, and that users can opt out. Speaking to Wired, AVG said, "While AVG has not utilised data models to date, we may, in the future, provided that it is anonymous, non-personal data, and we are confident that our users have sufficient information and control to make an informed choice."

Still, some experts maintain the even anonymized data can give away people's identities when combined with other information advertisers might have. For those who are worried, AVG says it plans to give users the ability to opt out, even thought it wasn't clear on where that opt out might be.

While free software is nice, this is one of the risks you run using it; money has to be made somehow. So, it's always good to be careful before installing anything to know what it's doing with your information.

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Source: Wired
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