Although malware is just as rampant and even more dangerous than ever, it seems that the antivirus software market has seen better days. As these companies start losing profits from software sales and licenses, they turn to other sources of revenue, some more questionable than others. Avast has apparently made a business of “sharing” data to third parties and its CEO is now apologizing for hurting the feelings of its customers.
The irony of the situation isn’t lost on anyone, not even Avast it seems. The cybersecurity company’s core business is to protect users from malware that seek to harm them by damaging computer resources or pilfering private data. And yet its Jumpshot subsidiary has apparently been doing the latter for years until it was caught red-handed in the past two months.
CEO Ondrej Vleck has not posted an open letter to the public owning up to the fiasco. Somewhat. He admits that data collection became a part of its business but justified that, back then, it seemed that cybersecurity was going to be about “big data”. It took them seven years and perhaps thousands of dollars in profit later to realize it didn’t alight with the company’s “North Star”.
Nowhere did the letter mention how Jumpshot sold data to third-parties, something users supposedly agreed to (technically, they only agreed to share, not sell, their data). The implication in the letter is that the data collection was done for cybersecurity. Why it would need to sell or even provide the likes of Pepsi and Home Depot that data remains unanswered.
That is probably why Vleck is apologizing only for hurting people’s feelings, and not for violating their privacy. He also wants people who made the matter public to feel guilty for impacting hundreds of loyal Jumpshot employees and customers as it shuts down the subsidiary for profiting from violating users’ privacy and going against the company’s stated North Star.