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Chris Cardell

Web analytics, AVG couldn’t care less

Grisoft have recently released the latest version of their AVG virus scanner, version 8. Back in December 2007 Grisoft purchased LinkScanner, this tool scans websites before the user has visited them. For example, when the user surfs Google, the tool will scan all results on the page even if you only decide not to visit any of them thus generating much fake traffic. The latest version of AVG has incorporated this piece of technology which is excellent for the home user who will gain greater protection from viruses. However, for a webmaster this isn’t an advantage.

OSBlues were one of the first to notice the issue when one of their clients noticed a sharp increase in traffic, an analysis of the log files showed that the increase in traffic was mostly from Google. Eventually it was worked out that the user agent “Mozilla/4.0+(compatible;+MSIE+6.0;+Windows+NT+5.1;1813)” was causing the trouble. After a search on Google there was a connection with AVG, which was then worked out to be ‘LinkScanner’.

AVG Link ScannerSome webmasters have found ways to block the user agent and feed it blank pages to avoid wasting bandwidth, however some of the agents shouldn’t be blocked as it could also be blocking real users. AVG wants to avoid this sort of problem, eventually they may not even include an out of the ordinary user agent so that there will be no way to block the scanner. An estimated 70 million users run AVG on their PC. Of these 20 million have upgraded to the latest version, this means there are already 20 million users who are unknowingly causing web logging confusion among webmasters and increasing websites bandwidth usage. For the large website, bandwidth isn’t an issue, although for smaller sites extra bandwidth can be costly. However, the main emphasis is on the skewing of data recorded, there is a lot to be gained from analysing real traffic.

OSBlues have been attempting to clear the issue with AVG as a passionate believer in log file analysis. They contacted Pat Bitton, Head of Communications and received this response,

“…we’ve been working since then to figure out exactly was going on and how we might fix it with the best results for everyone. Your offer to assist is much appreciated, and I’m copying this reply to Roger Thompson* so he and his team can contact you directly…”

They have also worked out a way of defending against LinkScanner. As time goes on and more webmasters start to feel the adverse effects of LinkScanner then AVG will eventually back-down we suspect to keep their reputation. After all, there are 50 million users yet to upgrade to version 8… that’s a lot of fake traffic.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 15th, 2008 at 11:17 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Pat Bitton

    AVG R&D is forming a consultative group involving a number of webmasters who’ve contacted me as a result of my comments posted at The Register and replicated elsewhere in the blogosphere. If you’d like to be part of that effort, just let me know your email address.

  • DoesWhat

    Thanks Pat, your effort in resolving analytics issues for webmasters is admirable. You should receive an email shortly containing our email address.

  • Pat Bitton

    Thanks – have forwarded your contact info to Roger and the development team.

  • Roger Thompson

    Thanks for your offer to help. I’ve passed your email along to our
    product managers and developers. They are really the right folk to
    coordinate this.

    Thanks again, and sorry for the delay in responding. We’re a bit busy. ;-)

  • Demopoly

    Given AVG’s rather unapologetic, if not “flip” comments, I’ve come up with a better solution.

    I’ve added them to my .htaccess block list.

    I feel that malignant code CAN NOT be tolerated from anyone, not google, not AVG, nobody.

    Code that gives me pain is malignant when I can’t mitigate it easily, and the offender is “flippant.”

    I welcome AVG and google mobile to the block list, published at the above address.

    I welcome additions and fixes to the block list by email.

    I will not remove the block list nor edit it to resolve an offenders complaints.

    Thank you.

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