Avast promises security-driven future with new web browser


Jessica Haworth April 06, 2018 at 15:27 UTC

Updated: June 20, 2021 11:25 UTC

Antivirus security company releases update with built-in privacy and cybersecurity technology

Avast unveiled its new Secure Browser update last week, which it says “will put privacy and security first.”

The browser is an update to SafeZone from the antivirus company, which was deployed in 2016.

Built-in features include ad blockers and anti-phishing detectors, as well as tools that alert users to malicious activity, such as cryptomining.

It also incorporates anti-tracking technology and an advanced incognito mode.

Avast said this new browser, which is available to all SafeZone users to download, will be a “major step” towards “choice, transparency and privacy” on the web.

A bold statement, given the level of skepticism placed on secure browsers by researchers.

Last year, Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero revealed a flaw in Avast’s Avastium browser that allowed an attacker to “read any file on the file system by clicking on a link.”

And it’s not just Avast under the microscope, as other security-focused browsers have come under scrutiny as well.

Avast Platform Product Director Matt Adkisson spoke to The daily sip on the new browser, and what they claim it can do for users.

DS: What security features were included in Secure Browser?

MA: Our Adblock and Anti-Phishing features have been extended to prevent many types of “malvertising” and phishing attacks, as well as – more recently – the incredibly rapid proliferation of cryptomining attacks.

While they started out as enjoyable consumer utilities, they have now grown into must-have security features.

One of our most popular features is banking mode, which launches a kind of local container for a specific browsing session.

It isolates keystrokes and user data from any keyloggers or other spyware that is hiding.

DS: How can it protect user privacy?

MA: Anti-Tracking blocks all known data management providers that collect and sell user data on an individual level.

Anti-Fingerprinting scrambles browser fingerprints to prevent surreptitious personal profiling which is becoming increasingly popular.

Stealth Mode, which also automatically runs on Anti-Tracking, prevents the storage of browsing history and eliminates cookies and web cache data collected while the session is active.

DS: What prompted Avast to release this update?

MA: We kept hearing the same comments over and over again: Users wanted a browser that puts privacy and security at the forefront and integrates the best privacy and security features into a holistic yet simple package.

Avast Secure Browser was born out of our belief that we could meet this need.

DS: And what does Avast present as the biggest threat to computer users right now?

MA: Sophisticated ransomware, man-in-the-middle attacks, adware, spyware, malvertising and now cryptomining – and who knows what’s next.

The biggest threat to users is that there are so many new threats on the horizon – it’s simply overwhelming.

Avast Secure Browser is meant to be a fast, easy, out-of-the-box solution that everyday users can rely on.

If we have accomplished this, then we have succeeded.

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