AVG caves to Webmasters

Wanton link scanner cut down.

The deluge of false traffic triggered by the LinkScanner Search-Shield component of AVG anti-virus will dry up after the company axed its Web trawling function.

AVG was berated by furious Webmasters who likened the scanning functionality of Search-Shield to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

The component, built in to Version 8 of the popular anti-virus program, scans all results returned by Google for malware, effectively hitting at least 10 Web site pages for every search query.

The company came under fire after Webmasters reported a surge in zombie Web site hits, including broadband forum Whirlpool.net.au which claimed it was attacked with more than 700 hits a minute. The Web site urged users to remove the product and joined others in redirecting burdensome Search-Shield queries to the AVG home page.

IDG Australia, the publisher of Computerworld, was also hit by multiple requests.

Wikipedia-watch.org, self-appointed watchdog of Wikipedia.org, claimed a test of LinkScanner returned 600 complete pages without images in three minutes, including "230 downloads of the home page and 370 downloads of deep pages averaging 50Kb each".

Users said the technology was irresponsible, however effective, because it chewed up the bandwidth of legitimate Web sites to protect AVG users.

One user likened the methodology to smashing a nut with a sledgehammer.

In less than 11 weeks, the fake Web site hits caused by Search-Shield reached a number expected by AVG to be produced over 34 months. AVG reported about 5 million downloads of the AVG Free version 8.

The company has released an updated version of AVG, modified to prevent Search-Shield from scanning unvisited Web sites.

Local marketing manager Lloyd Borrett said the updated version is available for download now and will also be pushed out in a release cycle.

"Our number one support issue with respect to LinkScanner prior to this was Webmasters accusing us of falsely saying their web site was infected," Borrett said.

"Yet 99 percent of the time such accusations were raised, we've been right so far."

The scanner renders more than 1 billion verdicts a week, according to AVG, which includes one infected Web page per 43 searches.

"While this has affected Web traffic analysis and marketing analytics on a handful of sites, we are dedicated to protecting our users with the best technology on the market today while at the same time not being disruptive," AVG wrote in a statement.

"AVG will issue a product modification to address the spikes that a few individuals have seen with their Web traffic."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Darren Pauli

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?