Protecting over 200 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus

April 1st, 2010

Misdirection on the Internet

Having over 100 million users has its downside—it means that users searching for Avast are also a prime target of scammers as well as legitimate companies trying to piggy-back on our name recognition. Every day we receive complaints from people that have been scammed. Some have been scammed into paying to download a free copy of Avast. Others have been tricked into buying a product they thought was Avast but was not. This happens in many different ways but at the core is the greatest scourge of the internet—socially engineered scams and deceptions. Thieves and even legitimate companies are masters at taking advantage of people’s natural penchant to trust others. Some scams are quite blatant and most of us would consider them theft or cheating. Others are much less obvious and may even be considered zealous marketing and selling. One finds such deceptions in search results, on download sites, and even in internet domain names.

Cybersquatting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersquatting) is a common means of scamming a user. In this someone (or another company) uses the Avast name to sell their own products—real or fake. This sometimes happens with competitors but most commonly cybersquatters are individuals trying to “extort” a payment in exchange for selling the name to us. We recently paid a British woman living in the UK a significant amount of money to buy the name www.avast.jp (Japan). We should not have done that—we should have taken her to court—but it was cheaper to just pay her. In the future I don’t think we will pay any such person. It sets a very bad example. Also in the UK is www.avast.co.uk. It is legitimately owned by a plumbing company named Avast but for a long while was being used to misdirect Avast buyers to other products. It is now being used legitimately and we have no issue with it. After all, we are not the only company in the world named Avast and there is no chance a British Avast customer would be misled when they land on a plumbing site.

Cybersquatting sites are also the leading source of complaints we receive from users that paid for a free copy of Avast. There are a number of such sites going by names such as helpmedownload.com, downloadnow.com, etc. Here they are leveraging the Avast name and the download.com name (a major English language download site) to scam users into paying. They typically sell a yearly download subscription to Avast and some of their own (usually useless) content. They charge $5 – $10 a month (non-refundable and paid up front of course) and then provide the user a link to our download site and a Free Antivirus key. We have a list of hundreds of such sites and also have the black-listed in our product.

Selling fake AV products is one of the most recent socially-engineered scams and has become very popular. Fake AV is a program that does not do anything wrong and thus was initially difficult for real AV programs to detect. Instead of trying to steal information or do bad things to a user’s computer, all it did was pop up a real-looking message pretending to be from the user’s antivirus program. This message would tell the user that they were infected and that the infection could be fixed by buying the product. After buying the fake product, the message would of course stop. One of the recent sites even offered toll-free 800 number ordering support for customers that were having problems ordering online.

We drive a lot of traffic to download sites and in exchange for hosting our downloads, download sites sell advertising space on our download pages. For example, here is a popular English download page. Notice the three big download buttons—only one of which is for our product (which was the product that brought the user to this page). Sometimes we even see the traditional large competitors buying these advertising spaces. There are also download sites I have seen where it is almost nearly impossible to find the download button for our product amongst all the advertising links.

Web searches also can deliver a lot of misleading advertisements. Below is a US-based search for “download avast”. Notice that in addition to the search results, 10 ads are also served up. And only one of these ads is for Avast. One would not expect that someone that is searching for how to download avast is looking for these other products but apparently enough users are interested or get misled to make this advertising profitable. A lot of this may also innocent. Ad placement software may automatically place many of these ads. For example, an advertiser may want their ad placed with searches for “antivirus”. The ad software knows Avast is antivirus and thus places other antivirus ads here. However, some of these advertisers are purposely buying the term Avast for their ads.

An even more egregious example is the 11 ads served up to someone that searches for “antivirus free”. Only one of these ads is actually for a free product. Most of these ads are purchased by firms hoping to sell their products to users looking for a free solution. They do this by promoting a 30-day free trial and then hope to convert the user to a paid user after the end of the trial period. I find one of these especially interesting as it advertises the product as “Free” with no mention of a trial. Only after clicking on the link does the user find that not only is the product not free, to even get the trial the user has to provide a credit card number which will be charged if the user doesn’t cancel the order within 30 days.

To us security is fundamentally about trust. Users trust that we will protect them during their online journeys. Unfortunately though, sometimes users trying to get to us get misled into other products or services. If you do find any misleading sites, do let us know and we will do what we can to have them removed.

  1. Luis
    April 1st, 2010 at 21:20 | #1

    FIRST!
    AVIRA > AVAST

  2. Jason H
    April 1st, 2010 at 23:04 | #2

    Second?
    Avast > Avira

    Oh wait, I had something legitimate to say.

    The domain market has been making me incredibly mad lately. Whether I’m trying to recover some .com, .net, or .org related domains or start up a new project. 90% of the domains I’ve looked into have been owned and parked. I really think parking domains should be disallowed, just as cyber-squatting.
    If you have a domain, do something legitimate with it. Otherwise, it goes back into the pool. Parking it to show ads to those who make typos or go to the wrong TLD is a ridiculous part of the industry.

  3. tester
    April 2nd, 2010 at 14:03 | #3

    antivir.cz ;) leads to avast.

  4. haha
    April 2nd, 2010 at 15:17 | #4

    @tester
    well being the avast originated in Czech Republic, it is quite understandable, because anitivir means in czech antivirus :o)). On the contrary avast.eu has nothing to do with avira, right ;o)

  5. April 2nd, 2010 at 16:01 | #5

    @tester
    Yes tester ahd haha, in Czech antivir means antivirus. We have used that name in Czech for probably more years than Avira even existed. We also used to own the name antivir.com but transferred that to Avira a couple of years ago. We do not use the antivir name outside of the Czech Republic. That is always a problem when a product name is also a generic name in some language. Fortunately no one that I know of actually named their product “antivirus” as http://www.antivirus.com is owned by Trend Micro.

  6. Jim Hapeman
    April 2nd, 2010 at 16:46 | #6

    I believe that I have already downloaded avast, but keep getting a warning message at the bottom of my screen. I am not computer-savvy, so who knows. Can you help?

  7. Dennis
    April 2nd, 2010 at 18:27 | #7

    How can I tell if I have a legitimate copy of Avast? Ever since I went to the 5.0 version it’s behavior has changed and so has my computer. Could it be corrupted? When I do a full scan it stops responding and I’ve turned off my screensaver but that doesn’t help either. My computer seems to have adware or something else causing it to be suspicious and slow.

  8. hiya
    April 3rd, 2010 at 04:36 | #8

    @Dennis

    If you believe you are infected please go to:

    http://forum.avast.com/index.php?board=4.0

    For help, create an account and post a topic there.

  9. Chris
    April 5th, 2010 at 19:24 | #9

    The PCAvisor review said Avast score poor in detecting new malware is it true ?
    here’s the link http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/index.cfm?reviewid=3219255

  10. April 5th, 2010 at 23:28 | #10

    Chris,
    Having been a victim of some nasty redirect malware that completely crippled a PC, I’ve since switched to Avast and have been happy with the performance thus far.

  11. john-l
    April 6th, 2010 at 02:22 | #11

    wasnt aware of the browserchoice from ms thought mware however av turned off and would not restart any clues

  12. john-l
    April 6th, 2010 at 02:30 | #12

    dont like this captcha nonsense however why mke it possible to disable system ok i understand about gaming port etc but surely they could provide a lock system .
    Ido not wish to denigrate any of the programmers of this product after it is free but surely they know most people install and hope for best.

  13. john-l
    April 6th, 2010 at 02:33 | #13

    john-l :dont like this captcha nonsense however why mke it possible to disable system ok i understand about gaming port etc but surely they could provide a lock system .Ido not wish to denigrate any of the programmers of this product after it is free but surely they know most people install and hope for best.

  14. john-l
    April 6th, 2010 at 02:34 | #14

    is there anybody there

  15. brandonfritz
    April 6th, 2010 at 04:59 | #15

    PUT MY MONEY BACK. HAD 30 DAY FREE TRAIL WHAT IA GOING ON?

  16. April 6th, 2010 at 10:45 | #16

    Jim Hapeman :
    I believe that I have already downloaded avast, but keep getting a warning message at the bottom of my screen. I am not computer-savvy, so who knows. Can you help?

    Hello Jim,
    can you create the ticket on http://support.avast.com and send me the screenshot? I would like to see what is on the warning screen. Thank you

  17. April 6th, 2010 at 10:46 | #17

    Dennis :

    How can I tell if I have a legitimate copy of Avast? Ever since I went to the 5.0 version it’s behavior has changed and so has my computer. Could it be corrupted? When I do a full scan it stops responding and I’ve turned off my screensaver but that doesn’t help either. My computer seems to have adware or something else causing it to be suspicious and slow.

    Hello,
    trustworthy source of Avast is always site http://www.avast.com our drivers are digitally signed.

  18. April 6th, 2010 at 10:50 | #18

    Chris :

    The PCAvisor review said Avast score poor in detecting new malware is it true ?
    here’s the link http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/index.cfm?reviewid=3219255

    Hello Chris,
    as I can see in the article there are some misunderstandings in the text (for example handeling with viruses). As independent and reliable source of antivirus tests we recommend AV Comparatives site http://www.av-comparatives.org/

  19. April 6th, 2010 at 10:52 | #19

    brandonfritz :

    PUT MY MONEY BACK. HAD 30 DAY FREE TRAIL WHAT IA GOING ON?

    Hello,
    please contact our sales department for refund requests.

  20. Mario
    April 6th, 2010 at 15:39 | #20

    Hi trend micro detected this website http://www.swfcabin.com/open/1243702443 as malware and i went on the website on my home computer and i’m scared my computer is infected with the malware can you get avast home the free antivirus to detect it please im begging you im very scared and i just payed $100 dollars to have my computer fixed so please get avast! home the free antivirus version to detect the malware. so please get avast home the free antivirus to detect it

  21. April 7th, 2010 at 08:20 | #21

    @Mario
    Hi,
    this seems like Trend false positive. We’ve briefly checked that page and found nothing suspicious. You may want to contact them for an explanation.

  22. Mario
    April 7th, 2010 at 14:57 | #22

    @Jindřich Kubec
    I will Thanks

  23. April 7th, 2010 at 15:03 | #23

    Mario :

    Hi trend micro detected this website http://www.swfcabin.com/open/1243702443 as malware and i went on the website on my home computer and i’m scared my computer is infected with the malware can you get avast home the free antivirus to detect it please im begging you im very scared and i just payed $100 dollars to have my computer fixed so please get avast! home the free antivirus version to detect the malware. so please get avast home the free antivirus to detect it

    What exactly is wrong with the homepage?

  24. April 7th, 2010 at 15:05 | #24

    @Jim Hapeman
    Hello,
    can you send me the screenshot of the warning please?
    http://support.avast.com – create ticket

  25. SuperMario
    April 7th, 2010 at 15:06 | #25

    Hi,
    Avast! antivirus you guys rock i love avast antivirus it is protecting my computer very well thanks :-)

  26. April 7th, 2010 at 15:12 | #26

    my problem is that when i go onto a popup came up and it said if you do not complete this survey you will be banned from this site and it gave me 3 minutes to complete the survey but didnt tell me how to then 3 minutes later it says i have been banned from the site and now i cant go onto facebook please can you help me find out why this is happening and please can you help me to solve my pronlem thank you.

  27. Mario
    April 7th, 2010 at 15:25 | #27

    @Vojta – Avast support team
    it turns out that trend micro made a mistake so thanks.
    And i have an idea for avast! antivirus. an avast security toolbar to alert people about a harmful website when they search before they even go on the website it will have a red X next to a harm website that would be so very cool. :-)

  28. Mario
    April 7th, 2010 at 15:33 | #28

    @Vojta – Avast support team
    Hi,
    Will avast 5.0 protect my computer from getting malware on it cause when i got my computer fixed the repair guy found 22 malware on my computer so will avast 5.0 stop that from happening again?

  29. Zaid..
    April 7th, 2010 at 22:51 | #29

    u guys rock !! u lifted da standard in antivirus software!! rock on dudes!!

  30. April 8th, 2010 at 11:03 | #30

    @Mario
    Hello,
    yes Avast will protect you.

  31. April 8th, 2010 at 11:04 | #31

    @Mario
    Hello Susan,
    please leave us a ticket on http://support.avast.com we will need some more information.

  32. April 9th, 2010 at 06:55 | #32

    They lie They lie They lie They lie They lie They lie They lie

  33. Shiw Liang
    April 9th, 2010 at 15:13 | #33

    @Mario:If you update your antivirus before doing anything like going to the internet or putting any flash pen in your computer,then your computer will be a lot more secure :)

    This is the tips

    You may also add a firewall if you have the free version of avast and use malwarebytes’free version to scan months if you got any malwares in your computer :D

  34. dingorefeo
    April 10th, 2010 at 20:49 | #34

    I LOVE YOU Avast!

    Yiiihaaaaaaaaa!!!

  35. Björn Lundahl
    April 13th, 2010 at 14:23 | #35

    Hi I am trying to post something I want to say but it will not be posted? Why this problem? I only get the message that “it looks as I have said it before” or something like that?

    Björn Lundahl

  36. Björn Lundahl
    April 14th, 2010 at 22:11 | #36

    At download.com the number of people who are downloading AVG compared to Avast are twice as many! Avast has a better detection rate, more features and a nicer GUI than AVG, still millions of users every month choose AVG. One reason that this is so might be that AVG does not require any registration. When will Avast stop this requirement of registration? Is it really worth it?

    Björn Lundahl
    Gothenburg, Sweden

    • April 14th, 2010 at 23:38 | #37

      Hi again Bjorn. It is actually a little bit different than that. For the high download products (us, AVG, etc.), download.com does not really deliver us new customers. Instead we all use download.com to reduce our cost of delivering the downloads. That is why you see very aggressive product cross-sells from download.com. We deliver potential customers to download.com and they try to sell them other products. What is happening here is that AVG is directing more of their users to download.com. We instead serve a lot of the new users through our own infrastructure and other download sites. You also see a huge spike in Avira downloads when they brought out Version 10–they steered their upgrading V9 users to download to bet V10. They probably did this to bump their download.com statistics and save money on their own infrastructure. We are not real happy with the user experience so we do not do that. We do closely monitor our new users vs. our competitor’s new users and know that the download.com numbers are dramatically different than reality.

      That being said, our registration may change a bit in the future. We use the registration because it allows us to count users and it serves as the yearly trigger point to give the users an upsell message. Avira of course delivers a daily upsell and AVG delivers a 2x/year upsell with their new versions. We may change though to all registration information being optional–all we want is the mouse click telling us they want the product for another year. We actually have never used the registration data for anything and we don’t even bother to collect the right to use it for marketing purposes.

  37. Björn Lundahl
    April 15th, 2010 at 08:52 | #38

    @Vincent Steckler

    Hi thanks for your comment, so you believe that Avast and AVG have about the same number of users?

    Björn

  38. April 15th, 2010 at 09:01 | #39

    Bjorn, I think we and AVG have about the same number of free users–or we are a bit ahead. AVG would probably say the opposite. No one really knows the truth but the two of us are very close to each other. AVG has many more paid users. And I think we both have 2x or more as Avira….

  39. Björn Lundahl
    April 16th, 2010 at 00:16 | #40

    @Vincent Steckler

    Okay, then I know.

    You have said that Google and Alwil shares a similar philosophy or something like that, could you please explain what the similarities are?

    Björn

  40. steve land
    April 17th, 2010 at 05:50 | #41

    I scanned through the comments from users on this blog,their various experiences with AVAST. I have AVAST installed on 3 of my 5 computers, the 4th one has Avira installed and the 5th one is in the making and will also end up with virus protection from AVAST onces it gets up and running. Besides those installs I have also installed this antivirus program on several more computers. It is also the antivirus I recommend to people that would either prefer a free antivirus vs a premium or they do not understand the importance of this kind of protection. I take my hat off to AVAST developers for the job they have done and are doing in creating one of the best antivirus protection program around! And for no money at all there is really no match! Your program is currently doing a great job of protecting my network as well other computer users I recommend it to. I feel almost guilty using it for free :-) Thanks for a job well done – so far so good.Just keep it up!

  41. April 17th, 2010 at 17:02 | #42

    I have your new Ver 5 on my computer. It has found 48 instances of viruses, trojans, etc. that other programs have not been able to find. I sent a report from my latest scan to your tech staff and got a reply that my system ic clean which is not the case.

    My question now it this. Would the paid version remove these viruses? Let me know. I need my computer which I use to support an orphanage.

  42. Björn Lundahl
    April 18th, 2010 at 11:56 | #43

    Noah

    “My question now it this. Would the paid version remove these viruses? Let me know. I need my computer which I use to support an orphanage.”

    The free version will remove those viruses just as well as the paid version.

    Björn Lundahl

  43. April 19th, 2010 at 09:00 | #44

    Noah :

    I have your new Ver 5 on my computer. It has found 48 instances of viruses, trojans, etc. that other programs have not been able to find. I sent a report from my latest scan to your tech staff and got a reply that my system ic clean which is not the case.

    My question now it this. Would the paid version remove these viruses? Let me know. I need my computer which I use to support an orphanage.

    Hello,
    exactly as Björn said, the paid version has the same engine as free version. But I have seen your ticket and the detection is caused by using two antivirus programs on one computer.

  44. April 19th, 2010 at 17:03 | #45

    can anyone help me!
    there was a feature in avast! 4.8 which enabled it to prevent user from accidental manual shutdown when a removable device is connected with it but i could not find it in new avast 5.

  45. Björn Lundahl
    April 20th, 2010 at 00:36 | #46

    I guess that the philosophical similarities between Alwil and Google are that they are not so hawkish, strictly business like, calculating etc but have a more gentle and open attitude than many other companies?

    Björn

  46. spg SCOTT
    April 20th, 2010 at 15:15 | #47

    @nikhil

    I think this feature has been removed from version 5.

    -Scott-

  47. April 21st, 2010 at 06:43 | #48

    Just want to say “Thank You” for the excellent software, the caring support and for putting up with freeloaders like me in order to help keep the internet cleaner and safer for everyone. I truly am ashamed that I’ve taken advantage of your excellence for so long, but I really haven’t been able to afford much of anything for too long. When I went broke a few years ago, the “other guys” not only discontinued my use of their anti-virus software, they had made it next to impossible to remove, overrunning my computer with nags to update, re-subscribe, pop-ups telling me how unsafe my computer was, etc., etc., ad nausea – until my computer was so full I didn’t have resources enough to even format the drive and start over! I now use a donated machine with Avast, and every computer I work on, or even get asked for advice for, becomes another Avast protected machine. Hopefully some at least become paying subscribers. Only drawback is I get way fewer repeat service calls because those computers that run AVAST don’t trash out from malware like the old days of the “big name” protection. Works great since fixing computers is not what I do for a living, and most of my “customers” aren’t able to pay much, if any, so I get more time to look for productive projects. Thanks, thanks, and thanks.

  48. Charles H
    April 21st, 2010 at 15:11 | #49

    3 Years running – no infections. I run Avast on my machine, my wifes machine, and my kids machine. Coupled with MalwareBytes and SpyBot Tea-Timer you can’t beat the protection. As a systems professional I recommend these 3 items for rock-solid protection.

    I never order a machine with any commerical virus protection on it and if I find it, I remove it and install Avast, SpyBot Tea-Timer, and MalwareBytes.

  49. karthik
    April 22nd, 2010 at 04:52 | #50

    1.it would be better to have an option to change tray icon’s colour..just put in a colour slider in settings.

    2.Hey i checked out http://www.pack.google.com after checking out Avast blog, but Avast is NOT listed in Google pack..Sad :(

    3.check out this site,

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/AntiVirus-Free-Vs-Paid-Detection-139005.shtml

    Avast scored very high in detection rates, and got a good name ; however the paragraph before the conclusion says tat, the suspicious files submitted to virus lab didnt have any effect in detecting threats even after 20 days..
    What does that mean? Im sure that softpedia is not a biased site..

    I do all this because i use Avast for 4 years and i want it to be the Best..!

    Pls comment

  50. Jim
    April 22nd, 2010 at 06:36 | #51

    After 25 years experience and numerous memory hogging AVs , Avast is the best by far.

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