FTC fines Avast $16.5M for selling user data

Feb 26 2024

Gone Phishing Banner

Welcome to Gone Phishing, your daily cybersecurity newsletter that’s the Sean Strickland to cybercrime’s ‘Sneako’ ????????????

Today’s hottest cybersecurity news stories:

  • ⚖️ Justice, Avast! FTC fines Avast $16.5M for selling user data ????️

  • ???? Lockbit admin ‘LockBitSupp’ may have engaged with authorities ????

  • ???? Australian finance department leaks data for 2nd time in 4 months ????‍♂️

FTC: If Avast you once, Avast you a thousand times: STOP SELLING USER DATA! ????????????




????????️Avast Empire of Snooping & Selling: FTC Fines Avast $16.5 Million ????️‍♂️????

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped antivirus provider Avast with a hefty $16.5 million fine for some seriously sneaky behaviour! ???? Avast, the U.K.-based cybersecurity company, got caught red-handed selling users’ browsing data to advertisers without their permission. Talk about a major privacy breach and from a company supposed to be keeping you safe online, no less! The cheek of it, eh? ????‍♂️????

According to the FTC, Avast not only collected sensitive browsing info through its browser extensions and antivirus software but also sold it to over 100 third parties through its Jumpshot subsidiary. ????????️‍♀️ And get this: they did all of this while promising users their privacy would be protected. Talk about a bait-and-switch move! ????????

This shady practice came to light thanks to a joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag back in 2020. It’s like something out of a spy movie! ????️‍♂️???? The backlash was swift, with major web browsers kicking Avast’s add-ons to the curb. ????????

And that’s not all. Avast also faced a €13.7 million fine from the Czech Republic last year for similar GDPR violations. Seems like they just can’t catch a break! ????????

In addition to the fine, Avast has been banned from selling or licensing web browsing data for advertising purposes. They’ve also got to notify affected users about the data mess-up. ????????

“Avast promised users that its products would protect their privacy, but delivered the opposite,” said Samuel Levine, the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection director. Ouch! That’s gotta sting! ????????

This case serves as a reminder to companies everywhere: if you promise privacy, you better deliver! Otherwise, you might end up with a big fine and a tarnished reputation. ????????


Signup for Free


Learn AI in 5 minutes a day. We’ll teach you how to save time and earn more with AI. Join 400,000+ free daily readers for trending tools, productivity boosting prompts, the latest news, and more.

The jig is LockLockBitSupp! ????????????

???????? LockBit Ransomware Drama Unfolds! ????????

LockBitSupp, the infamous face behind the LockBit ransomware service, has made a surprising move – engaging with law enforcement! ???????? But wait, what’s the catch? ????

This unexpected twist follows the takedown of LockBit’s cybercrime empire in a coordinated international operation dubbed Cronos. With over 14,000 rogue accounts shut down, LockBit’s reign of terror seems to be coming to an end… or is it? ????❌

It seems like LockBitSupp might be playing mind games. By claiming to cooperate with authorities, they’re stirring up suspicion and sowing seeds of distrust among their affiliates. ????️‍♂️????

And the plot thickens! According to insiders, LockBit and LockBitSupp might not be one and the same. In fact, there could be multiple masterminds behind the curtain, pulling the strings of this cybercrime saga. ????????

But fear not – our cybercrime fighters aren’t backing down! Operation Cronos has dealt a significant blow to LockBit’s operations, leaving their infrastructure in tatters. ????????

While LockBit’s future hangs in the balance, one thing’s for sure: the cybercrime world is in for a wild ride! ????????

Watch this space for updates…

???? Catch of the Day!! ????????????

???? The Motley Fool: “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Good ol’ George Dubya ???? Let us tell who’s not fooling around though; that’s the Crüe ???? at Motley Fool. You’d be a fool (alright, enough already! ????) not to check out their Share Tips from time to time so your savings can one day emerge from their cocoon as a beautiful butterfly! ???? Kidding aside, if you check out their website they’ve actually got a ton of great content with a wide variety of different investment ideas to suit most budgets ???? (LINK)

???? Wander: Find your happy place. Cue Happy Gilmore flashback ????️⛳????????️ Mmmm Happy Place… ???? So, we’ve noticed a lot of you guys are interested in travel. As are we! We stumbled upon this cool company that offers a range of breath-taking spots around the United States and, honestly, the website alone is worth a gander. When all you see about the Land of the free and the home of the brave is news of rioting, looting and school shootings, it’s easy to forget how beautiful some parts of it are. The awe-inspiring locations along with the innovative architecture of the hotels sets Wander apart from your run of the mill American getaway ????️???? (LINK)

???? Digital Ocean: If you build it they will come. Nope, we’re not talking about a baseball field for ghosts ???????? (Great movie, to be fair ????). This is the Digital Ocean who’ve got a really cool platform for building and hosting pretty much anything you can think of. If you check out their website you’ll find yourself catching the buzz even if you can’t code (guilty ????). But if you can and you’re looking for somewhere to test things out or launch something new or simply enhance what you’ve got, we’d recommend checking out their services fo’ sho ???? And how can you not love their slogan: Dream it. Build it. Grow it. Right on, brother! ???? (LINK)

Aussie finance department: Oops, we did it again, we played with your files, got ‘em lost in the mainframe ????????‍♀️????

???????? Oops!Australian Finance Department Shares Confidential Data… Again! ????‍♂️????

It looks like the finance department is having a tough time keeping secrets under wraps! For the second time, they’ve accidentally spilled the beans, sharing confidential commercial info with 236 suppliers. ????????

Shadow finance minister Jane Hume isn’t holding back, calling out the breach as “gross incompetence” that could cost taxpayers millions! ???????? And she’s not wrong – this blunder comes hot on the heels of a similar slip-up last November. Talk about déjà vu! ????

But wait, there’s more drama! The latest breach stats from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner reveal that the federal government is back in the top five sectors hit by data breaches. ???????? And guess what? Human error seems to be the culprit more often than not. Oopsie! ????‍♀️????

To clean up this mess, the finance department is bringing in the big guns – former commonwealth ombudsman Michael Manthorpe will lead an independent review of the blunder. Let’s hope they can get their act together this time! ????️‍♂️????

Meanwhile, suppliers are left in the lurch, with major firms like Deloitte and KPMG caught in the crossfire. ???????? Independent senator David Pocock isn’t mincing words, demanding urgent procurement reform to prevent a third strike. ⚠️????

Lesson learned? Governments need to tighten up their data security game and fast! ????️???? Otherwise, they might find themselves in hot water… again! ????????

That’s all for today, folks! Stay safe out there ????️????️????️

????️ Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

Every few weeks, we carefully select three hot newsletters to show you. Reputation is everything, so any links we share come from personal recommendation or carefully researched businesses at the time of posting. Enjoy!

  • The GeekAI: A daily 3 min newsletter on what matters in AI, with all the new AI things coming to market its good to stay ahead of the curve.

  • Wealthy Primate: Want to earn over $100k a year in IT or cybersecurity? 20 year veteran ‘Wealthy Primate’ might be able to help you climb that tree ???????? with his stick and banana approach ????????

  • Techspresso: Receive a daily summary of the most important AI and Tech news, selected from 50+ media outlets (The Verge, Wired, Tech Crunch etc)

Let us know what you think!

So long and thanks for reading all the phish!

Recent articles