London, United Kingdom / Redwood City, California, United States, December 11, 2020 – Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy products, has released an experimental tool that visualizes browser-based internet activity and information stored by browsers to give people insight into personal data that could be used by third-party companies for user profiling. The tool, called WebTrails, is a free privacy-focused extension for Chrome developed by Avast’s research team, Avast Labs.
WebTrails is part of Avast’s ongoing commitment to privacy and is the first privacy awareness experiment in a planned series of innovations to help people take back control of their personal data and improve digital wellness. lt displays in an easy-to-digest report, the websites and social media platforms users visit the most, along with any significant security events that have affected those websites, and private information that could be at risk due to insecure connections.
”WebTrails by Avast Labs is part of our exploration into building new tools to help people understand their online footprint. The idea behind WebTrails is to help people understand the extent of information gathering by web browsers so they can make more informed decisions about the services they use and how they interact online”, said Ondrej Masek, Lead Software Engineer at Avast. “For most people today, the browser is the gateway to the internet and the epicenter of their online activity. But there are few services that visualize the personal information stored in browsers in a way that’s tangible and concrete for the user. We hope WebTrails will make people more aware of the data they may be inadvertently sharing.”
Additional information collected by non-private browsers that’s visualized by Avast WebTrails includes data on the days, times and months a user has been most active online and the most frequently viewed videos. It also shows top connections on social media sites and details on the location from which their data emanates.
Avast is 100% committed to user privacy, and as part of this commitment has made the WebTrails source code available for inspection under a creative commons license on GitHub. WebTrails works locally in the browser and operates as a set of rules to categorize, sort and find patterns from the insights captured by browsers which are then displayed to the user. Avast is keen to source feedback from users of the experimental tool in order to improve the insights it provides.
WebTrails is currently available in English language only, and can be downloaded for free here.