Flaw in AVG 8 fixed

July 8, 2008 // 11:47 a.m.

Tags: #anti-virus #avg #bug #fix #flaw #linkscanner #update

A fix has been released for a rather nasty bug in the well-regarded free anti-virus package AVG 8.

According to BetaNews, the flaw was in a rather ill-thought out feature new to the version 8 release called 'LinkScanner'. The premise behind LinkScanner was that it would visit each link on a search engine's results page in turn in order to check if any lead to sites you'd be better off not visiting. Sound in principle, but not so hot in execution.

Aside from a sudden jump in bandwidth usage for the end-user, the main problem was 'fake' traffic being generated for websites that didn't come from real visitors. Because every link on a results page gets visited, each one serves up a page – at its own expense – and records a page view; as LinkScanner is an automated system, however, those 'views' never amount to a human actually looking at your page. While the entries in the traffic logs can be filtered out, that doesn't really help pay for the increase in data transfer costs – and heaven help you if you're running a pay-per-view advertising scheme.

Some groups even stated that, with the right prodding and poking, LinkScanner could form the basis of a denial of service attack against a designated website.

Accordingly, AVG Technologies has published an update for the freeware version of its anti-virus program that nobbles LinkScanner. A similar update for its commercial packages is due some time today. In a statement this weekend Peter Cameron, the Managing Director of AVG Australia and New Zealand, stated that his company is “totally committed to providing maximum protection for our users and for the Internet eco-system as a whole without causing unnecessary disruption.

The fix will be automatically downloaded by AVG 8 clients at their next scheduled update, meaning that “results of this change should be seen by early next week.”

Any AVG 8 users noticed a spike in their bandwidth usage since upgrading, or do you use some other method of virus prevention? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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