Posts Tagged ‘malware’

AVG Toolbar has become malware

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I first installed AVG anti-virus way back when I was using Windows 95, McAfee came with the machine and I used that for a while but the machine used to lockup quite regularly.  AVG was a breath of fresh air, quicker and much more solid than McAfee.

That was more than a decade ago now and I have used AVG (both free and paid editions) on several machines since, and I have recommended it to many friends and colleagues.  But no more; AVG (or specifically the AVG Toolbar) has become the malware that it is supposed to be protecting me from.

Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent.

Now I know that the AVG toolbar isn’t designed to damage my computer but you have to be pretty alert to stop it inflitrating your browser  and making it behave the way AVG wants rather than the way you want.  When you install AVG it will install the toolbar AND make Yahoo your default search engine unless you deselect the appropriate boxes on a fairly cluttered screen, this is annoying but sadly not uncommon, Java tries to install the Yahoo toolbar  every time it installs an update.

Now this is annoying enough but at least you can hide the AVG toolbar using the View/Toolbars option in your browser.  But No!  AVG will reinstate itself after a week, you have to use the AVG options (on the AVG toolbar) to stop it coming back every week.

Another, even more annoying, feature is that AVG will set and keep Yahoo as the search provider for your browser.  Now most modern browsers let you set a default search provider but also select from a list for specific searches.  I use Google as my default provider but I have about 8 others which I use from time to time, including Yahoo.  What AVG does is set Yahoo as the default search provider, and also make it impossible to change to any other search engine.

To change these unacceptable behaviours you have to change the Advanced Options for the AVG toolbar.  To do this you need to be displaying it, then select the drop down list just to the right of the AVG logo on the left (before the Yahoo search box).

Then select the Advanced Options tab and you will see a whole list of options, all of which should be deselected.  You can then save the changes, go to the View/Toolbars option for your browser and hide the AVG toobar for ever (or until a future update undoes  your work).

I have chosen to uninstall AVG altogether and install new anti-virus software from a (so far) better behaved provider.  I will be installing the free version of Avira anti-virus.  I have been using Avira for a few months now on one of my PCs and it seems very good;  lean, quick and well behaved,  just what AVG used to be.  The free edition will nag you briefly to upgrade once per day which I think is fair enough, it is certainly worth paying for and it isn’t expensive.

I presume that Yahoo (which I think is a good search engine) has paid Grisoft (AVG) to include these features in their software.  I hope they have paid them enough to compensate them for the customers they will lose because of it.  They won’t lose much when  I uninstall AVG free from my family PC, but I won’t be renewing the paid subscription for my work PCs either.