Last year, security researchers uncovered that the popular PC cleaner CCleaner was backdoored. Older versions of Piriform CCleaner -v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191- had been compromised, and as a result millions of users were affected.
New Changes in CCleaner Version 5.45 for Monitoring and Data Collection
Now, it appears that the Avast-owned software, available under Piriform, is once again criticized, this time due to software changes in the latest release, CCleaner version 5.45. In it, there is a changelog that says that more detailed reporting for bug fixes and product improvements have been added.
However, privacy experts worry that this statement only serves to cover data collection intentions. The newly added monitoring elements are called Active monitoring and heartbeat, and it appears they are sending user data to CCleaner servers. The data includes usage analytics and continuous scanning of systems in order to alert users when junk files are discovered.
Piriform claims that hearbeat only sends non-personal, non-identifiable usage information for the purpose of improving the software, adding that through collecting it they can rapidly detect bugs, identify pain points in the UI design and also understand which areas of functionality should be improved. The suspicious part is, however that it is extremely difficult to opt-out of the new feature.
Users can choose to disable the system data collection and Active Monitoring under Options. However, the features will turn themselves on again the next time the program is started. Closing the program has also been more challenging – the X-icon now only serves to minimize the program. The only way to close it is by force-closing it.
As a result of these changes, CCleaner users have expressed their discontent. Not surprisingly, the disability to opt-out of data collection and monitoring as well as the difficulties with shutting the program are not what users want to experience.
What Is Avast Going to Do?
Avast has heard the complaints of CCleaner users and promises to fix the issues in the upcoming weeks. Apparently, the company has realized that combining the new analytics with the Active Monitoring feature was “quick to implement“, and that it doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility in terms of controlling the features separately.
This is what Avast is promising:
- We will separate out Active Monitoring (junk cleaning alerts and browser cleaning alerts) and heartbeat (anonymous usage analytics) features in the UI and we will give you the ability to control these individually. You will have the options of enabling all, some or none of these functions, and this functionality will be uniquely controlled from the UI.
- We will take this opportunity to rename the Advanced Monitoring features in CCleaner to make their functions clearer.
- We will deliver these changes to the software in the coming weeks.
Update: Avast Pulls CCleaner v5.45
After the negative acceptance of the latest version of CCleaner, version 5.45, Avast has decided to pull it and to revert back to the previous version 5.44. Instead of “making changes” to the software, the company went further and the problematic version of the popular program is no longer available to users.
According to Paul Piriform, the backlash mostly came from the name of the Active Monitoring feature which sounds rather intimidating. Even though it has been part of the program for users, v5.45 did feature an extended “existing analytics functionality in the software in order to gain greater insight into how our users interact with the software.”
This is Piriform’s official statement:
Thank you all for your continued feedback (positive and negative, it all helps). I wanted to give a quick progress update on what we’re doing. We’re currently working on separating out cleaning functionality from analytics reporting and offering more user control options which will be remembered when CCleaner is closed. We’re also creating a factsheet to share which will outline the data we collect, for which purposes and how it is processed.
Today we have removed v5.45 and reverted to v5.44 as the main download for CCleaner while we work on a new version with several key improvements.