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October 16th, 2013

avast! Browser Cleanup still at work

cleanup01by Thomas Salomon, head of AVAST Software ‘s German Software Development team

In one of our previous posts we wrote about browser extensions and their possibly unwanted effects on our customers’ computers. Browser toolbars have been around for years, however, in the last couple of months they became a huge mess. Unfortunately, lots of free software comes with more or less unwanted add-ons or browser toolbars.

These are quite annoying because they may:

  • Change your homepage and your search engine without your permission or awareness
  • Track your browsing activities and searches
  • Display annoying ads and manipulate search results
  • Take up a lot of (vertical) space inside the browser
  • Slow down your browser and degrade your browsing experience
  • Fight against each other and make normal add-on handling difficult or impossible
  • Become difficult or even impossible for the average user to fully uninstall

Maybe you have already become a victim of unwanted browser toolbars. avast! Browser Cleanup was developed exactly for this reason; to help our customers identify and get rid of unwanted browser toolbars and add-ons. It is integrated in avast! 2014 and is also available as a stand-alone product on various download portals for use by friends without installed avast! Antivirus. Now, about 7 months after the initial release of avast! Browser Cleanup together with avast! Antivirus 8, it’s time for a review of the results.

Some database statistics after 7 months of use

Back in March, I predicted that we would end up with about 100,000 different extensions. I was wrong – totally and absolutely wrong! Reality shows that I underestimated the problem by several tens of magnitude. Seven months after the release of avast! Browser Cleanup, our database shows:

  • More than 3,300,000 different browser extensions for the three main browsers
  • On average almost 20,000 new add-ons per day
  • That 95% of all new add-ons are toolbars and associated libraries

Crowdsourced toolbar rating

As we can see in the following diagram, the vast majority (88%) of all our users have given toolbars and add-ons a bad or very bad rating. Only a small minority, 0.9%,  has a very good rating.

crowdsourced toolbar ratings

Toolbar variants

A lot of toolbars are available in different variants. These variations affect mostly the name. This is the top list of name variants we have seen as of today:

Toolbar Name

Incidence

Example 1 Example 2
browse2save

493836

brouwse22save bbrowse2esuave
searchnewtab

411325

Searchnewtab saearcch-newetab
continuetosave

235868

Conttinuetoosavveo coontiinuetoosave
magnipic

39245

Magniipiec maggnipeica
vaudix

16698

Vaouidyioxx vvaoudiix
ebookbrowse

11357

Ebookbreowse ebioeoukboroewse
geniuscoupon

4244

Gaeniiuscoupon geanniuscoupoon
smartcoupon

3013

Smaartccoouopon smartccoouppounu
picknsaveit

2854

picknssaaveitt picknssavieiite
shoppingaddon

2547

shyoppingauddoni sihaoppingaaaddyon
rapidcoupon

1256

rapidcoupon riaopyidycouipoony
browsetosave

1244

brouwsetosave browwsetosave
myshopper

16704

myusshopppeyr myusshopppeyr
mycoupon

1055

mmycouponn myycyoupoin
Total

1241246

   

Top 20

The following is the top 15 list of most detected toolbars with a bad user rating. A lot of AVAST users have opted to remove them:

  • Ask.com Toolbar
  • Yahoo! Toolbar
  • Mail.ru toolbar
  • Babylon Toolbar
  • SweetPacks Toolbar
  • Delta Toolbar
  • Searchqu Toolbar
  • Sweet IM Toolbar
  • DealPly Toolbar
  • Funmoods Toolbar
  • Softonic Toolbar
  • Yontoo Toolbar
  • Snap.Do Toolbar
  • IMinent Toolbar
  • PriceGong Toolbar

Checking and cleaning your own browsers

If you have toolbars in your internet browsers or have noticed strange ads displayed as an overlay, check your browsers using avast! Browser Cleanup. The tool is available in any avast! Antivirus product or you can download the standalone version here.

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  1. October 16th, 2013 at 16:07 | #1

    The following may help:
    http://youtu.be/8LCEbhnRy8s

  2. October 22nd, 2013 at 16:37 | #2

    I always use this tool… thank you team Avast

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