Grisoft, the makers of AVG, are now being accused of destroying web analytics with it’s LinkScanner technology. Grisoft had purchased the LinkScanner technology in December of 2007, and had incorporated the technology in its latest AVG Version 8 software. The purpose of LinkScanner is to alert the user to the validity of websites through search engines and warns us of bad sites. But using LinkScanner is now being suspected as causing rogue traffic to web sites as well. In this article it states:

In fact, LinkScanner analyses results from search engines (not just Google) and is browser independent. This may sound like a good idea from a security point of view, however, from a webmaster/website owner point of view, this is not good at all.

If your site appears well in the search engines, as everyone strives to do, your website is or is going to be hugely affected by this. Essentially this means, that everytime your site appears in a users results, regardless of whether they click on it, your website logfiles and thefore your statistics will show that person as a real visitor coming to your site. Now, because the IP address is the users IP address, we can’t filter on that, at first look it would appear we can filter on this useragent, unfortunately I spotted another one.

This one however, is even worst. This time it’s a legitimate user agent which means you can’t filter it out or rewrite it to another page on your site without the risk of blocking or harming real visitors. The first user agent is different, due to lack of a space (or plus) between the last semi-colon and the 1813, it doesn’t follow the standard pattern used by Microsoft.

So, we get to crux of the problem, AVG has destroyed web analytics for people who use a logfile analysis tool. Not only have they done this, they are also wasting our bandwidth and our disk space on servers!

Because of this I recommend that users of the new AVG 8 security software may wish to turn off LinkScanner for now. To do this one needs to do the following:

Click on Tools – Advanced Settings – LinkScanner and uncheck Search Shield.

If you wish to add protection back to your web searches give McAfee SiteAdvisor or WOT a try as a replacement.

Thanks to DougCuk for this information.

Comments welcome.