Avast’s SecureLine is an easy-to-use, popular VPN – not least because users can easily combine it with Avast’s antivirus software. But is it the best option for users who prioritize privacy?
Just because SecureLine comes from a reputable security company, it doesn’t mean that Avast has privacy at the core of their mission. They could easily keep logs and provide excellent encryption at the same time. So what’s the situation here – does Avast VPN keep logs or is it clean where privacy is concerned? Let’s dig deeper.
What does Avast say about its logging policy?
Most VPNs claim to keep no logs or have a very benign data collection policy. After all, they are appealing to a privacy-conscious demographic, and few VPNs would succeed if they listed their shady privacy practices. This situation implies that many providers aren’t honest with potential customers about the extent of data collection they are performing.
Avast certainly talks a good game about privacy, claiming that “privacy is a right, not a privilege” while assuring customers that they won’t need to worry about “employers, advertisers, governments, or your own ISP” snooping on their activities.
More importantly for us, the Avast SecureLine front page states that the VPN “doesn’t log websites visited or app usage.” So, on the face of things, there seems to be no issue of Avast VPN logs. If you take their marketing literature as truth, then Avast is as clean as a whistle.
This is a somewhat vague clause but isn’t necessarily worrying in itself (for instance, if Avast only records the type of computer connecting to their servers). And as they say, all of this data is deleted within 30 days. The problem is that Avast doesn’t say what it will do with this data, or what it would do if law enforcement agencies requested it.
Finally, Avast will keep records of your interactions with their support team, including “personally identifiable information.” Officially, this is intended to make their support operations run more smoothly, but it might reasonably spook some users. Having said that, the data collected won’t be used for marketing purposes unless you “opt in” – which is a welcome inclusion.
None of this proves that Avast keeps detailed logs of customer activity when they log onto the VPN. But it does suggest that Avast is collecting plenty of information at other times, and the company isn’t as open as it could be about exactly how it does this.
Would Avast share data with law enforcement organizations or marketers?
When we talk about VPN logs, we’re mostly addressing concerns that VPNs won’t shield us from corporate or government surveillance. Often, we use VPNs to keep our online activity secret and to guard against the potential for official intrusion. So it matters when VPNs aren’t clear about how they relate to law enforcement agencies.
Avast isn’t as clear as it could be in this area, either. We’ve noted that the company’s internal data collection practices are murky, and the same applies to the way they interact with external parties who may desire our data.
Avast also states that it will scrub out identifiers to keep users anonymous, but it’s not encouraging to see how keen they are to share user data far and wide.
The company also admits to not having many protections against official agencies. In fact, it’s pretty weak when it comes to protecting user identity.
For instance, Avast won’t just surrender personally-identifiable data to legitimate requests from law enforcement bodies. It will also hand over data to other third parties “if we believe on the advice of our attorneys that we are required to respond.” And it routinely transfers personal data to contractors for “product development or market research.”
So there’s plenty to be worried about on the privacy front.
Do Avast take privacy and security seriously?
Despite all the concerns, it’s only fair to stress that Avast has some excellent security policies. Most importantly, it backs up the “no logs” policy with impressive security features. The company uses 256-bit encryption to keep data safe.
Conclusion: does Avast VPN keep logs or not?
Whether these security policies outweigh the weaknesses we’ve already discussed is for you to decide. However, we’ve found plenty of evidence that Avast collects data, such as IP addresses, names, session lengths, etc.
There’s no concrete evidence that Avast keeps in-depth logs, but it probably pays to be skeptical. And if privacy is your priority, steering clear of SecureLine may be advisable.