Avast Browser Cleanup Has Removed 650 Million Unwanted Browser Add-ons

Free Utility Eliminates Annoying Toolbars such as Ask and Conduit and Restores Hijacked Search

Redwood City, Calif., July 7, 2015Avast Software, maker of the most trusted mobile and PC security in the world, announced today that Avast’s patent-pending technology, Avast Browser Cleanup, has identified more than 60 million different browser add-ons and removed more than 650 million from users’ browsers in the past two years. While not malicious per se, browser add-ons that come as toolbars can hijack and switch a user’s search preference and can be extremely difficult to remove once installed. Avast Browser Cleanup removes these unwanted toolbars from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer and lets users restore their search engine preference. Previously available as a feature in Avast Free Antivirus, Avast Browser Cleanup is now available as a new, free stand-alone product at Avast.com. 

"Toolbars are not classical malware so most antivirus products won’t flag them as malicious. However, some of these add-ons behave similarly to malware, which is frustrating for users," said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. "We’ve entered the decade of unwanted add-ons -- Google is now cracking down and removing ad-injecting toolbars from its Chrome store. Avast detects these toolbars and many more and is focusing on helping users battle browser toolbars that are one of the biggest consumer security outbreaks since spyware." 

Browser toolbars are often bundled with other free software, such as video players, Java and Flash updates. These toolbars typically occupy the horizontal space below a user’s browser and can include buttons, icons, and menus. Despite removing and re-installing a browser, the toolbar will remain, which is a behavior similar to malware.

Browser add-ons can frustrate users because they may:

  • Change the browser homepage and search engine without permission
  • Track people’s browsing activities and searches
  • Display aggressive ads
  • Manipulate search results
  • Take up a lot of vertical space inside the browser
  • Redirect requests to potentially dangerous websites
  • Slow down the browser and degrade the browsing experience
  • Fight against each other and make normal add-on handling difficult or impossible

Avast Browser Cleanup helps users who notice changes in their browsing experience like lagging, changes to their browser settings and altered search results. Avast Browser Cleanup allows users to specify their desired browser settings while eliminating unwanted toolbars. In some cases browser toolbars can be useful, but Avast users have rated 96 percent of all identified toolbars as "poor" or "very poor". The top 10 most unwanted toolbars are:

Toolbar

1. Mindspark
2. Conduit
3. Ask.com
4. Delta Search
5. Fast Start
6. Dealply
7. Yontoo Toolbar
8. SearchTheWeb (Iminent)
9. Incredibar
10. Sweetpacks/SweetIm

Number of Removals

18,358,334
13,924,453
11,773,062
6,136,056
4,862,671
4,253,676
4,020,969
3,442,706
2,729,797
1,948,958

The new version of Avast Browser Cleanup includes improved browser compatibility, support of the latest browsers, more homepages to choose from when resetting the browser, and more aggressive detection of toolbar protectors that make removal difficult. Additionally, Avast Browser Cleanup now runs in the background, notifying the user when it detects a potentially unwanted or malicious toolbar.

Avast Browser Cleanup is integrated in all Avast antivirus security products, including the free version, and it can also be downloaded as a free stand-alone software at https://www.avast.com/en-us/browser-cleanup