It used to be that VPNs were an obscure technical tool that geeks and hackers would use to “hide” their IP addresses.
Today, it seems today almost everyone is using a VPN. And they’re not being used to simply change IP addresses. They’re being used for streaming, torrenting, blocking ads, and more.
In this post, we perform a thorough Avast SecureLine VPN review, to see if we can recommend their service or not.
And while you know the answer from the title, there are still some interesting things to note about Avast. Read on.
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Here's what matters most.
Avast SecureLine VPN may look good on paper (pixel?).
But its parent company (Avast), the company behind the Avast antivirus products, is known to have collected incredibly detailed information from its antivirus users, as reported by PCMag and Motherboard.
I’m afraid that a commercial VPN company that engages in this kind of collection cannot be recommended, in my book.
Is Avast SecureLine VPN recommended? No, it is not.
Avast SecureLine Overview
About Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast is a company, based in the Czech Republic, that you’ve probably heard of before. And you’re probably thinking about antivirus products.
Yes, we’re talking about the same company.
In late 2017, Avast launched Avast SecureLine VPN. Their VPN ticks many of the right boxes, when looking at their website’s marketing: strong encryption, no-logging policy, DNS leak protection.
However, in January 2020, PCMag and Motherboard reported that the Avast Antivirus and AVG AntiVirus programs were collecting user data and transferred the data to the Avast subsidiary Jumpshot.
Jumpshot would repackage and sell the data to the highest bidder.
On January 30, 2020, Avast announced that they would discontinue the practice.
While this was about their antivirus products, it certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence when looking at their VPN offering.
I wouldn’t use their service, so I can’t recommend it either…
- Industry-Standard Encryption
- Native Applications
- No-Logging Policy (on paper)
- 2020 Antivirus Logging Controversy
- No Dedicated Tor Servers
- Does Not Unblock Netflix
What to Consider Before Buying a VPN Subscription?
A good VPN service will have robust policies in place, regarding:
I believe these three points come down to two things:
- A strong no-logging policy
- Anonymous payment methods, such as cash or cryptocurrency
No-logging, in my opinion, supersedes jurisdiction. Why? Because regardless of where your VPN provider is located, if it logs your activities, what did you gain?
And, as demonstrated by the PIA case, even a U.S.-based VPN provider can safeguard your privacy by not logging your data in the first place. They can’t hand over what they don’t have.
As for anonymous payments, I think it’s fairly self-evident. Your digital payment trail can lead back to your real-world identity.
If privacy, security, and anonymity are important to you, be sure to subscribe to a VPN that adheres to a strong no-logging policy and one which supports anonymous payment methods.
Features & Convenience
I performed a few speed tests while connected to Avast’s network.
I conducted the tests using a 100Mbps download and a 30Mbps upload connection. When testing my ISP connection, I was getting my full bandwidth on download and upload.
I performed the VPN speed tests connected to a New York server, which is geographically close to my physical location.
The speed test was performed three times, for accuracy. And the final value is the average of all three tests.
Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network
Server: U.S.A., New York
Average Download Speed: 86.13Mbps
Average Upload Speed: 27.45Mbps
So Avast’s speeds are actually quite good.
The download speed is pretty close to my ISP speed. The upload is a bit below, but nothing major. In fact, on one test, Avast was uploading at a higher speed than my ISP’s official speed.
This is very good performance.
Of course, I’m connected to a server that is close to my physical location. I would expect the speed to go down on say a German server – which would be normal.
Nonetheless, very good performance, speed-wise, from Avast.
Avast is on the more affordable side in terms of pricing.
They offer plans for 1 device or 5 devices (simultaneous connections)
And they offer three subscription terms for each plan type:
- 47.88 USD for one year of service (works out to 3.99 USD per month)
- 71.76 USD for two years of service (works out to 2.99 USD per month)
- 107.64 USD for three years of service (works out to 2.99 USD per month)
- 59.88 USD for one year of service (works out to 4.99 USD per month)
- 95.76 USD for two years of service (works out to 3.99 USD per month)
- 243.64 USD for three years of service (works out to 3.99 USD per month)
These prices are good. Even though the 2-year plan and the 3-year plan offer the same monthly rate.
Avast SecureLine VPN offers a 7-day free trial, which doesn’t require a credit card, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Avast SecureLine VPN is a streaming-friendly VPN. So, Avast should allow you to avoid ISP bandwidth throttling and to circumvent geo-restrictions while having the benefit of a fully-encrypted connection.
Cool. But what about Netflix?
You probably already know that Netflix started actively blocking VPNs from accessing its service in 2018.
Netflix implemented the ban to respect the geo-restrictions that producers and publishers impose on their content.
There are ways to bypass the ban, like rotating the IP addresses of VPN servers or by using “special” DNS servers. And some VPN providers go down that route.
However, Avast is not one of them. You cannot unblock Netflix with Avast SecureLine VPN.
Torrenting / p2p
Avast explicitly mentions torrenting on their website. They provide dedicated P2P servers, as many other VPN providers do.
These are likely either located in more P2P-friendly countries or using some form of obfuscation.
Either way, I tested torrenting over Avast SecureLine and it worked very well. Good speed. No lag. All good.
For a more detailed look at torrenting over Avast SecureLine VPN, check out our Avast torrenting review.Visit Avast SecureLine (save 60%)
Avast SecureLine provides native applications for the following platforms:
They also have browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. Though I had to download their app to find out. From inside their app, you can install the browser extensions.
This is reasonable coverage. But nothing for Linux and nothing for routers. Missed opportunity, in my book.
The native macOS app is uncluttered and fairly easy to navigate. Connecting was simple and straightforward. No need to contact customer service for anything.
While their app is intuitive enough to use out of the box, we nonetheless hope Avast adds support for more operating systems moving forward.
Number of Devices That Can Connect Simultaneously
As I mentioned in the Pricing section, Avast offers two types of subscriptions:
- 1 device subscription
- 5 device subscription
So, depending on the plan type you sign up to, the limit is either one or five.
It’s nice to have the option of paying less if you don’t need to use the VPN on more than one device. And 5 simultaneous connections is pretty much the standard right now.
So it’s good. Not great. Good.
The Number of VPN Servers Available
Avast provides access to 55 servers, in 34 countries.
Many VPN providers offer a lot more servers and locations. But this is more than enough, I believe.
Do They Support Multiple Server Hops?
Some VPN providers enable you to add some extra obfuscation to your VPN connection by bouncing it to a second server.
Because your traffic bounces over multiple locations, it is much more difficult to de-anonymize you.
Unfortunately, Avast does not support multiple server hops at this time.
Blocks Ads & Trackers?
Blocking ads and trackers is another way of enhancing your security and privacy while making your web browsing less annoying.
Avast does not provide an ads & tracker blocker at this time.
Many VPN providers allow you to route your traffic through the Tor network after the connection is made to the VPN server.
This works much like the way multiple VPN hops work, but instead of going through a second VPN server, your traffic goes through the Tor network.
Avast does not provide VPN over Tor services.
Security & Encryption
Supported VPN Protocols
Avast SecureLine VPN supports:
Both IKEv2 and OpenVPN are considered very secure, with no known vulnerabilities or backdoors.
We’re happy to see Avast only offering secure protocols.
Encryption Level & Supported Ciphers
Avast only supports the AES-256 cipher for both VPN protocols that they offer.
This is a secure cipher, that’s been tried & tested and is widely used by banks and government as well.
DNS Leak Protection
Avast run their own, no-logging DNS servers within the VPN tunnel, to ensure your DNS requests don’t leak.
That’s the right way to do it. Your DNS requests should remain within Avast’s network.
VPN Kill Switch
If your VPN connection drops for whatever reason, your traffic will start going out to the Internet without encryption and using your real IP address.
A VPN Kill Switch will block all traffic from exiting your device in this situation.
This is particularly useful if you leave your device unattended for some time.
Avast supplies a VPN Kill Switch in all of their apps.
In Which Jurisdiction is the VPN Provider Based?
Avast is based in the Czech Republic. So no 14 Eyes here.
But as I wrote many times, the no-logging policy is much more important than jurisdiction.
And given Avast’s track record and known collection practices, I wouldn’t sign up, regardless of the fact that they’re not in a 14 Eyes jurisdiction.
I would, however, sign-up for U.S.-based Private Internet Access in a heartbeat.
For more information on PIA, check out our Private Internet Access review.
Do They Have a Warrant Canary?
A warrant canary is a document that is frequently published by a service provider, which states that they have not received a secret warrant or a gag order from law enforcement.
If the provider ever does receive a warrant or a gag order, it can take down the warrant canary, to indirectly signal to their user base that they’ve been compromised, without violating the gag order.
Avast publishes a monthly warrant canary, pictured above.
Do They Own or Rent Their Infrastructure?
Avast doesn’t explicitly talk about this on their website. So a clearcut answer won’t be possible.
However, given the fact that the company is an antivirus company that presumably got into VPNs for business development, I wouldn’t count on them going to each location and setting up their own dedicated servers.
My money would be on rental. But do take that with a grain of salt.
Have They Ever Been Hacked?
As far as I know, Avast SecureLine has never been hacked.
What Information Is Collected at Signup?
Avast has an easy signup process, with a valid email address required. Nothing else.
Accepted Payment Methods
Avast only accepts credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal. That’s it.
No cash. No cryptocurrency.
Can’t say I’m surprised, really.
All in all, not very good.
Logs & Privacy
Let’s now turn to Avast’s policies.
The policies a VPN provider puts forth are of pivotal importance in terms of privacy and security.
Have they ever spied on their users at the request of law enforcement?
While we found no evidence of Avast SecureLine spying on its VPN users, specifically.
As we mentioned earlier, in January 2020, just a few months ago, Motherboard and PCMag reported that the Avast antivirus products record essentially everything you do. And Avast then sells that data through its subsidiary company, Jumpshot.
To quote the report:
“An Avast antivirus subsidiary sells 'Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site’.”
They now claim that practice has been discontinued. But this is very, very, very bad for a VPN provider.
A VPN provider’s business is based on trust and this is a clear breach of that trust.
So while this was not at the explicit request of law enforcement, this type of data collection and sale can be seen as being worse. At least with a law enforcement request, the collection is usually targeted – this is a wholesale collection.
Would they warn users if/when compromised by law enforcement?
Again, I don’t have a definitive answer here.
But given the above, I wouldn’t count on Avast helping you out in that regard.
How do they respond to DMCA notices?
Avast doesn’t address any of this on their website, so it’s difficult to give a straight answer.
But a company that wasn’t in the VPN business, to begin with, and which was caught collecting a lot of data from its customers shouldn’t be considered an indefectible ally.
Careful what you download over Avast…
Avast does put forth a no-logging policy and they claim to adhere to it.
OK. But they’ve been burned before. And in the VPN business, it should be hard to bounce back. It is for me, anyway.
But that’s also the point: Avast collects more data than any paid VPN service I have seen. And given their very recent precedent, that data is very likely sold to the highest bidder.
So let’s break this down.
First, let’s look at what Avast claims to not collect:
So they don’t collect:
- The complete IP address – They collect your IP address. They just mask out the last digits. This type of anonymization is known to be weak. It is trivial to de-anonymize this type of obfuscation.
- Your DNS requests
- Your online activities and the apps you use.
I’m not really impressed.
There’s no reason for them to collect the IP addresses of their users. This should be called a VPN provider’s worst practices.
For the rest, it’s a given. If they did collect your DNS and Web traffic, how could they even claim to help you in any way…?
Let’s look at the data they do collect. Are you ready? There quite a bit…
So, let’s see. Avast collects:
- Connection Timestamps
- The subnet of your originating IP address (they zero out the last digits…)
- The IP address of the VPN server you connected to
- The amount of data transferred
This is really, really bad.
But wait. It gets worse.
They go on to detail the third-party analytics that are used in their apps: Google and AppsFlyer everywhere!
Yep, so if you feel like pinging Google every time you use your VPN app, Avast is a great choice for you.
And did you notice they mention you can opt-out? That’s right, folks, you’re sharing all this data by default.
And that’s something I find really annoying because it means that even if you’re very privacy-focused, the first time you run the app, all these analytics will start collecting your data until you disable it.
Terrible.Visit Avast SecureLine (save 60%)
Feels strange to see that there, right? Don’t worry. I agree with you. It is strange. But it’s true.
There are zero features offered by Avast that stand out. The thing that stands out the most to me, is their collection practices – and that’s not really what this section is for, is it?
I normally like to mention things about the service that, well… standout.
ExpressVPN has diskless servers. PIA has split-tunneling and customizable encryption. NordVPN has NordLynx – its NATed WireGuard implementation.
What does Avast offer that stands out… Nothing. They support the basic subset of features that you need to support to be called a VPN provider and nothing more.
So while it may be strange to see an empty “Standout Features” section, I think it also makes a point.
What Others Are Saying
"After reviewing all of the evidence, I don’t recommend using Avast’s VPN service. The company provides a reasonably good free antivirus solution. Their VPN is incredibly easy to use. And the call-in customer service option was great! But in the end, there are just too many issues to overlook".
"Easy-to-use and with above average performance, Avast SecureLine could be a smart VPN choice for a single computer, especially with a cheap mobile device license. But beware – there are barely any features, the inflexible licensing system won't work for everyone, and you can't set up SecureLine on your router as a shortcut".
"The speed performance is average too, but it does not leak IP or DNS. It has a simple-to-use app interface, compatible with major operating systems, however, it keeps connection logs. Avast VPN also doesn’t offer a large server network. Overall, Avast VPN is not perfect".
Avast SecureLine VPN Alternatives
NordVPN is an excellent VPN service, based in Panama. They offer a great mix of security, privacy, and convenience.
DNS leak protection, CyberSec, strong encryption, VPN kill switch have you covered on the security front.
And dedicated P2P servers, native apps for every major (and not so major) platform, and up to six simultaneous connections (or more with a VPN router) make the service very user-friendly.
- Industry-Standard Encryption
- Native Applications
- Strict No-Logging Policy
- Ads & Tracker Blocker
- VPN Kill Switch
- Tor Over VPN
Surfshark is a VPN provider based in the British Virgin Islands, which was founded in 2018.
They take a strong stance on user privacy and security, while still offering some very convenient features, such as background P2P routing.
Their sign-up process is minimalistic, in that it only requires a valid email address from you.
They only support IKEv2 and OpenVPN. And while this may seem restrictive, we commend Surfshark for not weakening their users’ security by supporting insecure or obsolete VPN protocols.
Surfshark offers a very good service with a strong focus on privacy. And at 1.99 USD per month, it’s the least expensive, serious VPN service we’ve seen.
- Industry-Standard Encryption
- Native Applications
- Strict No-Logging Policy
- Ads & Tracker Blocker
- VPN Kill Switch
- Passed Security Audit in 2018
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a U.S.-based VPN service.
They put a strong focus on privacy and security while offering a large number of features. They also have a strict and proven no-logging policy.
They have over 3386 servers in 42 countries. They support many VPN protocols, including the obsolete and insecure PPTP protocol (unfortunately).
PIA is also one of the cheapest high-quality and secure VPN services out there.
- Based in the United States
- Strict no-logging policy
- Blocks ads & trackers
- SOCKS5 Proxy support included
- Over 3386 servers in 42 countries
- One of the least expensive high-quality VPN Providers
The conclusion is that I don’t recommend Avast SecureLine VPN.
They’re not a privacy company.
They’ve collected a ton of data from their antivirus products and sold that data to the highest bidder.
That’s exactly the behavior VPN users are trying to defend against. Does it make sense to sign-up to a VPN provider with these kinds of practices?
No, it does not.
And they collect way more user data than any other VPN provider I’ve seen. They even collect more than IPVanish – another VPN provider that has/had questionable practices.
You can easily find better and for less money.
To learn more about recommended VPN providers, check out our reviews of:Visit Avast SecureLine (save 60%)
Avast SecureLine VPN Detailed Review - And Why We Don't Recommend Them
By Marc Dahan
Last updated: July 13, 2020