Avast

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Avast Software s.r.o.
Formerly
Alwil Software
Public
Traded as LSEAVST
Industry Computer security
Founded 1988; 30 years ago (1988)
Founders
Headquarters Prague, Czech Republic
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
John Schwarz (Chairman)
Vince Steckler (CEO)
Products Security software
Revenue US $652.9 million[1] (2017)
US $299.7 million[1] (2017)
US $(33.8) million[1] (2017)
Owners
Number of employees
~1700[3] (2018)
Subsidiaries AVG Technologies, Piriform
Website avast.com
Eduard Kučera (left) and Pavel Baudiš (right) in 2016 with their spouses, who run the non-profit Avast Foundation for community development

Avast Software s.r.o. is a Czech multinational cybersecurity software company headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic. Avast has more than 435 million users[3] and the largest market share among anti-malware application vendors worldwide as of January 2018.[4] The company has approximately 1,700 employees across its 25 offices worldwide.[3] Avast was founded by Pavel Baudiš and Eduard Kučera in 1988 as a cooperative. It had been a private company since 2010 and had its IPO in May 2018.

In July 2016, Avast acquired competitor AVG Technologies for $1.3 billion. At the time, AVG was the third-ranked antivirus product.[5]

It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

Avast was founded by Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš in 1988.[6] The founders met each other at the Research Institute for Mathematical Machines in Czechoslovakia.[6] They studied math and computer science, because the Czech Republic would require them to join the communist party to study physics.[6] At the Institute, Pavel Baudiš discovered the Vienna virus on a floppy disk and developed the first program to remove it.[6][7][8] Afterwards, he asked Eduard Kucera to join him in cofounding Avast as a cooperative.[7] The cooperative was originally called Alwil and only the software was named Avast.[9]

The cooperative was changed to a joint partnership in 1991, two years after the velvet revolution[10] caused a regime change in Czechoslovakia. The new regime severed ties with the Soviet Union and reverted the countries economic system to a market economy.[7][9] In 1995, Avast employee Ondřej Vlček wrote the first antivirus program for the Windows 95 operating system.[7] In the 1990s security researchers at the Virus Bulletin, an IT security testing organization, gave the Avast an award in every category tested, increasing the popularity of the software.[7] However, by the late 1990s, the company was struggling financially.[6] Alwil rebuffed acquisition offers by McAfee, who was licensing the Avast antivirus engine.[6]

By 2001, Alwil was experiencing financial difficulties, when it converted to a freemium model, offering a base Avast software product at no cost.[7] As a result of the freemium model, the number of users of the software grew to one million by 2004[7] and 20 million by 2006.[9] Former Symantec executive Vince Steckler was appointed CEO of Avast in 2009.[11] In 2010, Alwil changed its name to Avast, adopting the name of the software,[9] and raised $100 million in venture capital investments.[12] The following December, Avast filed for an initial public offering, but withdrew its application the following July, citing changes in market conditions.[13] In 2012, Avast fired its outsourced tech support service iYogi, after it was discovered that iYogi was using misleading sales tactics to persuade customers to buy unnecessary services.[14] By 2013, Avast had 200 million users in 38 countries and had been translated into 43 languages.[6] At the time, the company had 350 employees.[15]

In 2014, CVC Capital bought an interest in Avast for an undisclosed sum. The purchase valued Avast at $1 billion.[16][17] Later that year, Avast acquired mobile app developer Inmite in order to build Avast's mobile apps.[18] Additionally, in 2014 Avast's online support forum was compromised, exposing 400,000 names, passwords, and email addresses.[19][20] By 2015, Avast had the largest share of the market for antivirus software.[13] In July 2016, Avast reached an agreement to buy AVG for $1.3 billion.[21] AVG was a large IT security company that sold software for desktops and mobile devices.[22] In July 2017, Avast acquired UK-based Piriform for an undisclosed sum. Piriform was the developer of CCleaner.[23] Shortly afterwards it was disclosed that someone may have created a malicous version of CCleaner with a backdoor for hackers.[24] Avast had its IPO on the London Stock Exchange in May 2018, which valued it at £2.4bn and was one of the UK’s biggest technology listings.[25]

Products[edit]

Avast develops and markets business and consumer IT security products for servers, desktops, and mobile devices.[26] The company sells both the Avast product line and the acquired AVG-branded products.[27] As of late 2017, the company had merged the AVG and Avast business product lines and were working to integrate the corporate departments from both companies.[28] Additionally, Avast has developed utility software products to improve battery life on mobile devices, cleanup unnecessary files on a hard drive, find secure wireless networks[29] or create a VPN connection to the internet.[30]

Avast and AVG consumer security software are sold on a freemium model, where basic security features are free, but more advanced features require purchasing a premium version.[27] The free version is also supported by ads.[31] Additionally, all Avast users provide data about their PC or mobile device to Avast, which is used to identify new security threats.[6] Antivirus scanning, browser cleanup, a secure browser, password management, and network security features are provided for free, while firewall, anti-spam, and online banking features have to be purchased.[32][33] According to PC Pro, the software does not "nag" users about upgrading.[32][30] About 3% of Avast's users pay for a premium version (10% in the US).[6]

The Avast business product family includes features for endpoint protection, Wi-Fi security, antivirus, identity protection, password management, and data protection.[28] For example, the desktop product will look for vulnerabilities in the wi-fi network and run applications suspect of having malicious hardware in an isolated sandbox.[34] The Avast Business Managed Workplace monitors and manages desktops, and assesses on-site security protocols.[28] The company also sells management software for IT administrators to deploy and manage Avast installations.[28]

Reception[edit]

PC Magazine gave the Avast free antivirus software an overall score of 8.8 out of 10 and gave AVG a score of 8.4.[27] The review said Avast gets good lab test results overall and has many features, but its password manager is a bit limited.[27] In tests by the AV-TEST Institute, Avast 2017 received six out of six points for protection and usability, and 3.5 points for performance.[27] A review in Tom's Guide said the free Avast antivirus product has "good malware protection" and has a small footprint on the system.[33] The review said Avast has a competitive set of features for a free antivirus product, but the scans are slow and it pushes users to install the Google Chrome browser.[33]

The Avast antivirus product for business users received 4 out of 5 by TechRadar.[34] The review said the software had good features, protection, configuration, and an "excellent interface," but took up too much hard drive space and didn't cover mobile devices.[34] According to Tom's Guide, the mobile version is inexpensive and feature-laden, but some features are unreliable or do not work as expected.[35] PC Magazine said the mobile version "has just about every security feature you could want" but was difficult to use.[36]

AVG, which was purchased by Avast in 2016, has also generally performed well in lab tests.[37] AV-Test Institute gave AVG six out of six points for usability, 5.5 points for protection and 5.5 points for performance.[37] However, AVG scored 81.05 in Virus Bulletin's lab tests, which is slightly below average.[37] The software is "very good" at detecting malware, but "disappointing" in antiphishing screening.[37] A review in Tom's Hardware gave the AVG software seven out of ten stars.[33] The review highlighted that the software has a small system footprint and has good malware protection, but does not have a quick scan option and lacks many additional features.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Prospectus". Avast. p. 149. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. ^ Reporting by Emma Rumney and Eric Auchard, additional reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Silvia Aloisi/Sinead Cruise/Susan Fenton. Cyber security firm Avast plans watershed London tech listing. 12 April, 2018. Reuters
  3. ^ a b c "At a glance". Avast. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Market share held by the leading Windows anti-malware application vendors worldwide, as of January 2018". Statista. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Avast Buys Piriform, the Company Behind CCleaner and Recuva". BleepingComputer.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Avast emerged from Communism to shine in security". USA Today. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Příběh superobchodu s antiviry: Avast koupí AVG ukázal um "zlatých českých ručiček" v IT". Blesk.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Interview with Avast's COO Ondřej Vlček". Download3K. 19 November 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d Wonder, Dan (17 June 2013). "Who Makes Avast?". Chron.com. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "Who We Are". Avast Foundation. 8 August 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  11. ^ "Vince Steckler". The CEO Magazine. September 22, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  12. ^ "Security Czechs". The Economist. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  13. ^ a b Roy, Abhirup (29 October 2015). "Avast worth 'upwards of $2 billion'; no IPO before 2017". Reuters. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  14. ^ Dunn, John E (16 March 2012). "Avast suspends antivirus support company after mis-selling allegation". Network World. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "Avast becomes most valuable IT company in the CR". Prague Post. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  16. ^ Tan, Gillian; Cimilluca, Dana (30 January 2014). "CVC Capital Near Deal to Invest in Antivirus Company Avast". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Security Software Firm Avast Gets CVC Capital Investment, Now Valued At $1B". TechCrunch. 5 February 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  18. ^ "Malware buster Avast buys up mobile app maker in move to be mobile friendly". VentureBeat. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  19. ^ Kirk, Jeremy (26 May 2014). "Avast takes community forum offline after data breach". Network World. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  20. ^ Meyer, David (27 May 2014). "Security company Avast suffers embarrassing forum hack". Gigaom. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Security Software Firm Avast to Buy Rival AVG for $1.3 Billion in Cash". Fortune. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Avast acquires rival AVG for $1.3 billion to create a security software giant". VentureBeat. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  23. ^ Sawers, Paul (19 July 2017). "Avast acquires Piriform, maker of popular system cleaning program CCleaner". VentureBeat. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Olenick, Doug (September 19, 2017). "Avast CCleaner used to spread backdoor to two million plus users". SC Media UK. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Cyber security group Avast valued at £2.4bn in IPO. Financial Times. Aliya Ram in London MAY 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "Download Free Antivirus for PC, Mac & Android". Avast. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d e Rubenking, Neil J. (23 February 2017). "Avast Free Antivirus 2017". PC Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  28. ^ a b c d Kuranda, Sarah (6 September 2017). "Avast Launches New Business Portfolio And Partner Program, Combining Its Channel Forces With AVG". CRN. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  29. ^ "Avast Main Page: For Home/For Business". Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Avast SecureLine VPN". PCMAG. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  31. ^ Larkin, Erik (October 2009). "Can You Trust Free Antivirus Protection?". PC World. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  32. ^ a b "Avast Free Antivirus". PC Pro. April 2015. p. 89.
  33. ^ a b c d e Nadel, Brian (3 August 2017). "AVG AntiVirus Free: Nearly the Best". Tom's Guide. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  34. ^ a b c Williams, Mike (28 September 2017). "Avast Business Antivirus review". TechRadar. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  35. ^ Riley, Sean (24 August 2017). "Avast Mobile Security: Erratic Performance". Tom's Guide. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  36. ^ "avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus (for Android)". PCMAG. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  37. ^ a b c d "AVG AntiVirus Free (2017)". PCMAG. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.

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