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Is Avast Safe? What To Know Before You Buy

Avast is a popular antivirus software option — but recent data privacy concerns have made some users skeptical about whether it’s still the right choice.

Avast is a popular antivirus software option — but recent data privacy concerns have made some users skeptical about whether it’s still the right choice.

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      Can You Trust Avast Antivirus, One, or Premium Security? 

      When it comes to antivirus software, Avast has been one of the most popular choices for years — especially after the company merged with another cybersecurity giant, Norton LifeLock, in 2022 [*]. 

      However, Avast has recently dealt with data privacy controversies, including a $16.5 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in February 2024 [*]. 

      Antivirus and digital security tools are supposed to keep your data and devices safe from online criminals and viruses. But Avast’s checkered past may leave some users rightfully skeptical. 

      If you’re in the market for a digital security provider and are considering Avast, you need to know the risks, benefits, and — ultimately — if it’s safe to use. 

      {{show-toc}} 

      What Does Avast Do? Plans, Protection, and Best Features 

      a screenshot of the Avast homepage advertising free antivirus for Macs

      Avast is a Czech cybersecurity company best known for its free antivirus software, used by 435 million active users worldwide [*]. Founded in 1988, Avast offers real-time protection against online threats — including rootkits, malware, spyware, and ransomware. 

      In late 2022, Avast merged with American cybersecurity giant Norton LifeLock in an $8.1 billion deal. Although they now operate under the umbrella company Gen Digital, the companies continue to offer separate digital security services [*]. 

      Avast also owns several antivirus and online protection brands, which includes the following tools: 

      • SecureLineVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) that makes your online activities and internet browsing private by encrypting your connection and hiding your IP address — even on public Wi-Fi.
      • AntiTrack software blocks tracking scripts, and prevents hackers and advertisers from collecting your data to build a profile of your digital footprint.
      • Avast Secure Browser is a web browser that hides your browsing history, blocks potentially dangerous websites, and forces websites to encrypt your data.
      • CCleaner removes unneeded files on your computer, making it faster and giving you more space.
      • AVG is another popular antivirus acquired by AVG in 2016 for $1.3 billion [*].  
      • Avira is a German antivirus software bought by Gen Digital in 2021 [*]. 

      While Avast offers many one-off products, most customers use Avast for its bundled security plans that include device scanning, a VPN, and the ability to block specific apps, websites, and downloads.

      Here’s a closer look at some of Avast’s more popular plans:

      Plan
      Cost
      Highlights
      Avast Free Antivirus
      Free
      Includes:
      • Malware scanner
      • Basic firewall
      • Real-time protection
      • Network scanner
      • Data breach monitoring
      • Rescue Disk
      • Do Not Disturb Mode
      Avast Premium Security
      Starts at $34.68/year for the first year on Mac and Windows PCs.

      Renews at $77.99/year.

      Plans for Android and iOS devices start at $44.28/year (and renew at $99.99/year).
      Avast antivirus, plus:
      • Email protection
      • Fake website protection
      • Ransomware protection
      Avast One (Individuals & Families)
      $35.88/year (individuals) or $48.60/year (families), for the first year.

      Renews at $109.99/year (individuals) or $149.99 (families).
      Avast One is an all-in-one service that offers protection from malware and viruses, unlimited VPN, data breach monitoring, and device cleanup tools.

      This plan can protect up to five devices.
      Avast One Platinum
      $119.88/year for the first year.

      Renews at $299.99/year.
      All of the features in Avast One, plus:
      • Dark Web alerts
      • 24/7 customer support
      • Credit and social media monitoring
      • Up to $2 million in identity theft insurance

      The main benefit of using Avast is access to its suite of security and maintenance tools. Avast’s products can help protect your devices against emerging cyber threats, block trackers, and let you browse safely. 

      Also, you can use Avast to schedule regular maintenance, clean out junk files, and keep your computers, tablets, and mobile devices running smoothly.

      On the other hand, Avast is relatively expensive compared to other services. Moreover, this program requires a lot of system resources to run properly, which can cause your desktop or laptop to slow down. 

      Below, we’ll explore the main features you get with an Avast subscription.

      Avast antivirus

      Avast is best known for its antivirus protection — including a comprehensive free version that scans for malware, protects against ransomware attacks, and scans emails for infected attachments. 

      How Avast’s antivirus keeps you safe: 

      • Malware protection. Compared to top antivirus software providers like Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee, Avast’s malware detection is one of the strongest. You can use it to combat viruses, trojans, keyloggers, ransomware, spyware, and more.
      • Ransomware protection for your personal files. The Premium plan has a Ransomware Shield feature that prevents untrusted applications or users from accessing your sensitive files — including your photos.
      • Sandbox virtualization tool. One of Avast’s best features is the ability to sandbox any app before installing it on your computer. By running applications in a safe environment that is completely isolated from the rest of your system, you won't compromise your device or data.

      What you need to know: Avast's antivirus software has one of the highest ratings from independent testing labs; however, its free plan can leave you vulnerable to some common online scams and security issues.

      🥇 Digital security doesn't have to be complicated or costly. Aura's all-in-one intelligent safety app combines antivirus, VPN, AI-powered scam protection, and award-winning identity and fraud protection — all in a single easy-to-use app. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Scam and phishing protection

      In 2023, phishing attacks accounted for 36% of all data breaches in the United States [*]. If an imposter gains your trust through a bogus email, you could unwittingly share your personally identifiable information (PII) — including your bank account details or Social Security number (SSN)

      How Avast’s antivirus keeps you safe from phishing: 

      • Advanced anti-phishing protection. Avast’s Secure Browser includes tools to help block phishing websites and links. In 2022, the company received the top score from AV-Comparatives, a third-party antivirus testing organization [*].
      • Email shield. A common method of phishing attacks occurs through emails. Avast can identify and block suspicious emails and links, reducing your chances of engaging with viruses.
      • Web shield. This feature scans encrypted websites and stops unsafe downloads. It can also block web attacks executed through botnets and malicious websites and scripts, ensuring that a threat actor doesn't compromise your data.

      What you need to know: In 2022, a study found Avast had the best phishing protection on the market — outperforming the built-in security of Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, as well as marketer leaders, including Kaspersky [*]. 

      Virtual private network (VPN)

      Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in unsecured connections to intercept data. This threat is especially high when you use public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, coffee shops, and airports. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and hides your browsing activity from prying eyes. With this security enabled, you can browse, shop, and bank safely.

      How Avast’s VPN keeps you safe: 

      • Military-grade encryption. Avast SecureLineVPN uses a combination of hashing, symmetric cryptography, and asymmetric cryptography for 256-bit AES encryption — the same standard used by banks and the military.
      • Connect to fast servers. Avast uses a robust server network to ensure that browsing while on a VPN won’t slow you down. 
      • Hide your geolocation. By hiding your location, a VPN reduces the risk of scammers learning more about your whereabouts and routine. With less information, fraudsters won't be able to target you with convincing scams. 

      What you need to know: Avast's SecureLineVPN logs part of your IP address and other data, and it doesn't work with Netflix US and other streaming websites. 

      Online privacy

      In simple terms, online privacy refers to both your ability and right to keep sensitive data or personal information to yourself. If you don’t follow best practices in digital hygiene, you could be at greater risk of doxxing, financial fraud, and identity theft. 

      How Avast’s antivirus keeps you private: 

      • Cookie manager. One of Avast’s newer anti-tracking tools allows you to auto-accept or decline cookies. Once set, you can stop website trackers without the hassle of dealing with annoying cookie pop-ups.
      • Global privacy control. Many companies and data brokers collect and share personal data about site visitors. You can adjust your privacy preferences regarding the personal data that you share in order to reduce the risk of security breaches. 
      • Privacy advisor. Users can easily manage their privacy settings across various popular online platforms and get privacy advice about any issues they encounter.

      What you need to know: Despite being a software that is meant to protect your privacy, Avast was found to be collecting and selling user data to over 100 third parties — including information about religious beliefs, health concerns, political views, locations, and financial status [*]. 

      Device performance

      Whether you have the latest iPhone or an older Android tablet, device performance could be a concern. Outdated software can also present security issues by giving hackers easier access to your device. 

      How Avast’s antivirus keeps your devices performing:

      • Smart Scan. This tool is designed to detect performance issues like outdated software, weak passwords, and unnecessary files that may impact your device's speed and efficiency.
      • Cleaner. The features in Avast Cleanup Premium focus on the optimization of your operating system by removing unwanted programs and bloated files.
      • Sleep mode. You can put resource-draining applications that you don’t use often into a state of hibernation, allowing your PC to run more smoothly.  

      What you need to know: Many Trustpilot reviewers claim that Avast makes their computers slow, while others have complained about user issues, such as VPN connection problems and annoying pop-ups [*]. 

      Is Avast Safe To Use? 4 Security Issues You Need To Know About

      Avast gets good reviews from most independent antivirus and cybersecurity testing facilities, including an AAA rating from U.K.-based SE Labs, and a top score from AV-Test [*].

      But despite being one of the best antivirus software companies, Avast has found itself in troubled waters over the years, leading many customers and security experts to question if it’s still a safe option to use. 

      Let’s take a closer look at some of Avast’s security issues:

      1. The FTC fined Avast for selling user data

      Since 2019, Avast has been embroiled in a class action lawsuit after the company was accused of leaking user data to advertisers [*]. While it’s common practice for data brokers to sell data to advertisers, people depend on antivirus software to protect their personal information. Despite this, Avast was found to be sharing data about user browsing history and location data.

      After a prolonged investigation, the FTC levied a $16.5 million fine in February 2024 and banned Avast from selling consumers’ web browsing data to advertisers [*]. 

      2. CCleaner malware infection

      In 2017, the Avast-owned file clean-up software CCleaner was infected by malware. Hackers infiltrated CCleaner and installed a backdoor that gave them access to users’ computers. Approximately 2.27 million computers ran the affected software, and Avast had to work closely with the FBI to contain the situation [*]. 

      3. Internal network compromise

      In September 2019, hackers breached Avast's internal network through a temporary VPN account. Whether intentional or caused by human error, the account had been kept open and did not require a second authentication factor. 

      The cybercriminals acquired domain administrator privileges and began to replicate sensitive files before Avast's team responded to security alerts [*]. 

      4. Constant upgrade pop-ups 

      Antivirus programs remind you to install the latest software updates when they detect old and outdated programs. However, many people have complained that Avast sends constant pop-up warnings — to the point of annoying customers and impacting computer performance [*]. 

      Hackers have also been known to imitate Avast’s pop-up messages to deceive users. If you click on these fake pop-up warnings, you can download spyware or ransomware onto your computer [*]. 

      The bottom line: Avast gets high scores for its antivirus software — but has a history of hacks, compromised software, and dishonest privacy practices. 

      Who Can Benefit the Most From Using Avast?

      Compared to other digital security tools, Avast is excellent at detecting malicious programs and cleaning files to keep devices running smoothly. Its range of plans, additional tools, and features can compete with the best cybersecurity providers.

      Avast may be a good choice for you in the following scenarios:

      • You want a free antivirus. If you're extremely price-conscious, Avast offers limited security for free — however, you'll be inundated by ads and pop-ups that push you to upgrade your protection to a paid account. 
      • You’re not worried about your data being sold to advertisers. While the FTC has banned Avast from selling consumer data, many users may feel uncomfortable knowing the company has made millions by selling sensitive user details in the past. 
      • You already have an identity theft protection provider. Avast is a good complementary software if you have another reliable app that monitors your bank, credit, and investment accounts for signs of identity theft. Adding this tool will bolster your online security and ensure that all devices run at peak performance. 

      However, despite its prowess and popularity, Avast's data privacy issues are cause for concern. Identity theft is a growing problem that everyone must consider when using the internet. So if you want to protect your personal information, devices, and family from hacking and fraud, you should consider other options.

      💡Related: Answered: Do You Need Antivirus Software in 2024?

      Avast vs. Aura: Which One Offers Better Protection?

      While Avast specializes in antivirus protection, Aura provides an all-in-one approach to digital security, combining award-winning identity and fraud protection with AI-powered digital security tools, scam protection, 24/7 support, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance.

      While Aura is a relatively new player in the market, it has already been rated #1 by Money.com, TechRadar, USNews.com and more.

      Let’s take a quick look at how Aura and Avast compare:

      Avast
      Aura
      Cost
      Avast One Platinum starts at $119.88/year for the individual plan and renews at $299.99/year.
      Starts at $10/month for a fully-featured individual plan.
      Ratings
      3.9 stars rating on Trustpilot
      4.7 stars rating on Trustpilot

      Rated #1 by Money.com, Forbes, TechRadar, USNews.com, and more.
      Digital security
      Key features include Avast Email Guardian, hack alerts, Network Inspector, Ransomware Shield, Webcam protection, and a virtual sandbox to test apps safely.
      Includes comprehensive built-in digital security features for 10 devices (50 devices on family plans), including antivirus, VPN, Safe Browsing tools, AI-powered spam call protection, and more.
      Device performance
      Automatic software updates and CCleaner tool rid your computer of unwanted junk files.
      None.
      Fraud protection
      None.
      Three-bureau credit monitoring and financial transaction alerts.
      Family online safety
      None.
      Award-winning parental controls and family safety features cover five adults and unlimited children.
      Support
      24/7 live chat, email, and phone support.
      24/7/365 White Glove support (phone and email).
      Insurance
      Up to $1 million in the event of lost wages and stolen funds [*].
      Up to $1 million in coverage for each adult plan member ($5 million on family plans).
      Free trial
      60-day free trial on the Premium Security plan only.
      14-day free trial and 60-day money-back guarantee.

      When you compare Aura with Avast, there are some key areas where Aura becomes a better option: 

      • Aura won’t sell your data. For Aura customers, privacy and data protection are the company’s primary concerns. Aura will never collect extra information about you or sell your personal data to advertisers or other companies. 
      • Award-winning identity and fraud protection. Aura’s digital security suite includes three-bureau credit monitoring for your bank and credit card accounts, plus fraud prevention tools — like a VPN, anti-malware scanner, and password manager.
      • AI-powered scam call and text protection. Aura’s optional Call Assistant uses advanced artificial intelligence to filter out spam and scam text messages, and can even screen your calls to protect you from phone scams.
      • Better support (that’s available when you need it). Aura’s team of White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists provide U.S.-based 24/7 support to help you recover from fraud and resolve issues with banks, creditors, and government agencies.
      • Protection for your entire family. Aura’s family plans cover up to five adults and an unlimited number of children, and include parental controls, Safe Gaming tools, and child identity theft protection.
      • Up to $5 million in identity theft insurance. Every adult plan member is covered by a $1 million insurance policy.
      💪 Try Aura for yourself — for free. Start your free 14-day Aura trial and see if it’s right for you.

      How to cancel your Avast plan

      You can’t cancel your subscription to Avast Antivirus through the app. Instead, you need to visit Avast’s website. Overall, the process is pretty easy and only takes a couple of minutes.

      Follow the steps below to cancel your Avast Antivirus subscription:

      1. Visit the Avast website and log in to your account.
      2. Once logged in, select My Subscriptions (in the Manage Subscriptions panel).
      3. You should be able to view your existing subscription and payment details. Select Unsubscribe or Cancel renewal. 
      4. You can review the details before confirming that you want to stop the automatic renewal. 

      If you purchased the subscription less than a month ago, you can use Avast’s 30-day money-back guarantee to get a refund. To do this, go to the Payments page, and then select Request a Refund

      Avast will email you to confirm the cancellation. If you’re due a refund, you should receive it within 5-7 working days.

      The Bottom Line: You Need Antivirus You Can Trust

      Avast offers a high level of antivirus protection but has faced numerous avoidable security and privacy issues that should make prospective (and current) customers rightfully concerned. 

      Even if you look past the privacy concerns, Avast tends to slow device performance, which can be frustrating. Moreover, it’s an expensive product that doesn’t fully protect you and your family against threats like credit card fraud, identity theft, and SSN theft. 

      For these reasons, it pays to consider an all-in-one provider, like Aura. 

      With Aura, you get some of the best identity protection on the market, along with advanced features such as antivirus protection, AI-powered scam call and text blocking, Safe Browsing tools, and more. 

      Get award-winning protection against hacking, viruses, and fraud. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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