AVG Software Pirates, Friend or Foe?

December 29, 2010

Recently AVG Technologies brought myself and a few other AVG Community VIPs to Prague, Czech Republic, where we had breakfast with the senior executives, took a tour of the city, ate delicious traditional Czech dishes, and attended a concert hosted by AVG.

During the breakfast with the senior executives at AVG, my friend and fellow Community VIP Kyle Moore asked a great question about how AVG was dealing with software piracy. It is surprisingly common for people who are pirating AVG’s software to come and brag about it on the AVG Facebook Page, or try to share cracked licenses on the page, so those of us who are involved in helping the community have all seen it quite often. Tony Anscombe, Ambassador of the Free Product Range and Dusan Zabrodsky, Senior Vice President of Operations explained to us that AVG is still gaining value from everyone who uses the software, because the majority of people who use AVG software automatically report data back to AVG about infections they encounter, allowing AVG to have more inclusive virus definitions for all new infections. So the more people who use AVG, legally or not, the better AVG will get.

Also, they pointed out that people who are likely to pirate their AV software and use software cracks typically engage in more dangerous activities online, encountering more malware because of their involvement with cracked software, and any other dangerous activities they may be a party to. This in turn provides AVG with more valuable information than the average user practicing safe browsing habits could provide, because the average user would not encounter as much malware as the typical software pirate. So while it’s not obvious to someone on the outside looking in, AVG actually benefits quite a lot from the people who pirate their software.

As with many of my posts, this one was also inspired by my interactions with someone in the AVG Community. Recently a community member made an appeal to AVG to try harder to stop the pirating of their software. It seems that AVG is content with their current methods though, as am I. I’ll elaborate with this analogy to show you what I mean.

As I mentioned, people who use software cracks are at a greater risk for contracting malware. While it’s true that cracks can get you free software, they will just as often get you infected with malware. So the trade off doesn’t really appeal to most people. Think of it like this, while it’s true that robbing a bank will net you a whole lot more cash much quicker than working a job everyday like the rest of us, it’s also a very dangerous crime that could get you killed and will make you a wanted man. Though people have been robbing banks for quite a while, we still see the majority working at their jobs to make an honest living.

While we may see people pirating AVG’s software, the majority will continue to purchase their software legitimately, so they don’t have to worry about getting infected and so they have the benefit of free technical support. As for the minority who are pirating the software, in a rare instance the criminals are actually helping their victims more so than hurting them, the information on new threats these software pirates provide may be worth more to AVG than the $54.99 that they ripped AVG off for ever could be. It’s always interesting to see things from a different prospective.

Thank You For Reading,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP

My Appeal to MajorGeeks.com’s Editors, and the AVG Community At Large

December 28, 2010

Image Credit- AVG Facebook Page, Community Tab

First, before I say anything, I ask that if you participate you read my entire post first (or at least don’t skip the end after the blockquote from my post on MajorGeeks.com, it’s important.)

Recently I read a post from an AVG Community member who pointed out that AVG was getting a bit of an unfair treatment on it’s download page at MajorGeeks.com. So, in response to this I wrote an appeal to their editors that they edit the text to be more accurate in relation to the issue they’re describing. I’ve included that post in it’s entirety below in a blockquote. I made a few edits to the formatting so that the links and bullets would work, but the content remains unchanged. I’ll also include a link to the original post on the MajorGeeks Forum.

My Post On The MajorGeeks.com Forum

Hey everyone! I hope that you can help me out with something. I’d like to make an appeal to one of the editors of this site, but I can’t find any identifying information or contact information that goes with the literature I’d like to address. So I was hoping someone here could either put me in touch with them or pass this along to them on my behalf?

The issue I’d like to address is this text that was included with the download of AVG Free on your site. I have included reference links as well to support my claims.

AVG Download on MajorGeeks says:

“Please note that while we still gladly offer AVG for download, recently AVG Free Edition has been breaking peoples computers, including both of the editors at Majorgeeks. We had a lot of difficulty removing and repairing our machines and we like to think we know what we are doing. After 10+ years we had to find a new anti-virus. Their new model seems to be a poorer quality free edition with an attempt to upsell to the paid versions. This is something we can not stand by and watch without warning you. We have had numerous emails as well from people who needed their computer fixed after a botched installation of AVG Free Edition. Other companies continue to offer free protection and we suggest you try those instead. I am currently using Panda Cloud anti-virus but Avast and Avira offer good, free protection. You might consider one of these alternatives. You’ll thank us later.

We hope AVG makes a comeback in the free protection arena, an area we feel they had dominated all of these years.”

I understand that this is your website and that you are entitled to sharing your opinion on it, but I feel that this is inaccurate and that you’re being unfair. So I’d like to share some information with you and make an appeal to you that you make this text more accurate, after considering the information I have shared with you.

I am aware of the issue which you cited in your text, because I’m a very active member of AVG’s Facebook Community. I’m not an employee, mind you, I’m a volunteer, an independent IT Consultant by trade. A few weeks back AVG had an issue where an update caused a false positive which crashed some 64-bit systems. This is unfortunate, but the issue has since been resolved, and new measures were taken to ensure this does not happen again. AVG worked very hard, opening up support numbers for both paid and free users for 48 hours in order to help correct the issue for those who were affected, and it is now long behind them.

While I agree that it was their mistake which caused the issue, AVG is not the first AV vendor to have an issue like this, nor will they be the last. Take for instance, the false positive issue from McAfee which crippled businesses, schools, and even hospitals. Also, please consider that while McAfee tried to pretend like it was no big deal, stating the issue “can result in moderate to significant performance issues,” (really, how can being stuck in an endless reboot cycle be a “moderate” performance issue?), AVG took ownership of their mistakes, even though had they not many customers admitted that they would have never known AVG was at fault. But rather than defraud their customers, they instead took the high road, stepped up, and took ownership of the mistake and began helping to correct it. Please also note these similar issue of equal impact from other vendors: Symantec’s Norton, Kaspersky, Avira, Avira again, Avira causing a huge problem for a software development company and rather than trying to work with him to resolve the issue they instead try to point out reasons why their false positive is acceptable, Avast detecting legit Microsoft software as malicious, Avast detecting MS Office files as malicious, Avast detects legit HP software as malicious, and I could go on and on all day with examples for every AV vendor out there.

However, I’d like to appeal to you that you edit this text on the grounds that

  • It’s an issue that affects all AV Vendors at some time or another, no matter how well funded or careful they are.
  • While Avast and Avira have not had as many widespread issues, mostly due to their much smaller command of the market, they are affected by the same issues you berated AVG for, yet you recommend them over it.
  • While you described AVG 2011 (yes, that’s the name of the “newer version”) as “poorer quality in an attempt to upsell paid versions,” AVG has actually added many new features to both the Free and Paid versions, and has added features to Free that used to only be available in Paid, such as heuristic detection, adding even more value for free users than past versions provided.

So I hope that, having been enlightened by this new information, that you will edit your text to be more accurate. Also, if you ever have any trouble with AVG, rather than try to fix it yourself, give up, and move on to lesser products, come bring your issue to the AVG Community on their Facebook Page! There are many volunteers, such as myself, as well as AVG employees, who are happy to assist you in resolving any issues you may have.

Otherwise, keep up the good work guys. I’ve used your site many times over my many years working in the IT field. Thanks and have a great day everyone!

Thank You!
(I would sign my post, but your forum rules stated that I not post my real name)

Link to the original post on the MajorGeeks.com Forum.

Now, I’d like to make an appeal to the rest of the AVG Community that you come and support me in my appeal to the editors. However, if you do choose to join my cause, I ask that you please do the following.

  • Read the MajorGeeks.com Forum Rules when you register your account and please be respectful of them.
  • Please be respectful of anyone who might reply to us, whether they are respectful of you or not.
  • Please keep your support confined to my thread, which I linked to above (and right here as well). I don’t want this spammed all over their forums. I’d like for us to make a very respectful appeal, not upset the moderators and get us all banned. It will also present an organized and united front to anyone who views the thread, where as posts spread all across the forums would not.
  • Please don’t try to hide the fact that you’re part of the AVG Community, or that you came over to support me. I don’t want to be dishonest. Stick to the facts and make your case.
  • If for any reason their moderators should decide to close our thread, please don’t confront them over it or make any new threads. Please just let me handle negotiations with their moderators should an issue arise. I want to be sure that we are respectful of their rules and community members.

If enough of us band together, I’m sure we can draw some attention and get the consideration we deserve. However, I also want to make sure that we are respectful of their rules and community members, as we will be representing the AVG Community. So, if you’re willing to abide by these requests, and you genuinely love and support AVG, then please join me on the MajorGeeks.com forum in support of our favorite AV software!

Thank You,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP

UPDATE!: After the editor I was seeking responded to my post on MajorGeeks.com, the text in question was removed from the AVG Free Download Page on MajorGeeks.com. Chalk this up as a great success, AVG Community!

Five Things I’ve Learned From The AVG Community

December 27, 2010

The AVG VIPs in Prague

AVG recently held a contest for their Facebook Community, asking us to list 5 things we learned from the community this year.

I refrained from entering the contest as it seems rather unfair to compete against others for a license when I have the privilege of pretty well just asking for any license I like. But I do want to share what I’ve learned as a very integral and involved part of the community this year.

  1. One of the first things that I learned when I began getting involved with the community is that I really enjoy helping people. I also learned that I’m very interested in pursuing a career in social media. I love what I’ve done with AVG, as well as my other volunteer projects and my recent job offer in the social media field.
  2. I also quickly began to realize that AVG is unlike any company I’ve ever known. They’re honest to a fault, even when it’s not convenient for them. They’re very in-tune with their customers, and they devote a lot of time and resources to building and maintaining their online community, which I’m proud to be a part of. All of our suggestions are sent directly to development teams, and I’ve seen some new features in products which I’m quite sure came directly from requests and suggestions from community members. AVG is an amazing company!
  3. I learned about a slew of new threats, and got loads of hands on experience with troubleshooting and supporting AVG’s software and online resources. I’ve become quite the expert, with a knowledge of AVG’s products and resources that may perhaps even rival some of their own support employees. In addition to that I also had the opportunity to really refine my research skills even further as I worked day and night to answer your questions and solve your problems. I love helping you guys, they say that one good deed begets another, and I’ve certainly benefited in many various unforeseen ways from my efforts in assisting the AVG Community.
  4. One of the most cherished things that I have come to possess is the many friends and contacts that I have met at AVG and in the community. I’ve seen many people collaborating in the community on various projects together, and I’m collaborating on projects with other Community VIPs as well. I’ve met a lot of great people at AVG, Thought Labs, Best Communications, and other community members who also offer Community Support as well. Whether we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet in person when we went to Prague, or if we’ve only spoken online or by phone, know that you guys are great, and it’s a pleasure to know and work with each and every one of you!
  5. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned from my experiences with the AVG Community is that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. We all are. I also learned that when you help others, great things can happen in your life, things you never dreamed of. So aim high and lend a hand when you can, because you never know when you may need a hand yourself, and you never know what sort of kindness one may repay you with for your assistance.

Helping each other is what being a part of the AVG Community is all about. Whether it’s through automatically returning data back to AVG’s cloud services to identify and protect against new threats, by sharing information on how to stay safe online and warning each other about new threats, or by getting in the trenches and doing research to answer some of the toughest questions you guys have about your computer problems, it all boils down to us all helping each other, and everyone benefiting as a result. The AVG Community truly is a wondrous place, the likes of which I’ve never seen before, and something that I am very pleased to call myself a part of.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in the AVG Community! I hope you had a great year, and I wish you a wonderful and productive upcoming year as well! Thanks for being a part of this community… our community!

Thank You,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP
Overlooking the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic

Zachary at Prague Castle with AVG