Posted by Virus Bulletin on Jun 20, 2008
Traffic analysts worry as AVG implements web scanning technology.
AVG's LinkScanner technology, added to its portfolio after the acquisition of Exploit Prevention Labs last December, has made its way into the company's massively popular desktop products, thought to be in use on as many as 70 million systems worldwide. With 20 million of those users having made the switch to the latest version with the website checking system integrated alongside more traditional security measures, some web watchers have spotted a possible link to a general rise in traffic detected by some sites.
As the scanner checks each link turned up in real time, it emulates visiting each page returned in the search results as if a real user had visited it. This behaviour could be behind unforeseen rises in web activity, which is expected to increase further as more of AVG's vast user base upgrade to the latest version.
While, currently, details of the user agent provided allow webmasters to filter visits from the scanner from their traffic logs, AVG may take further steps to prevent sites from distinguishing between the software and normal users, to ensure malware cannot hide from its probes. Pay-per-click advertising does not benefit from the increased traffic, however, as advertising systems in place on search pages are bypassed by the scanner using raw URLs.