Sorry Our Mac Apps Collected Browser Histories — Trend Micro

Angelica Greene
September 12, 2018

Apple is making some privacy improvements in macOS Mojave which should prevent apps from stealing a user's browsing history but given how a company lays so much emphasis on the privacy and security of its users, this should not have happened in the first place.

According to Patrick Wardle of Objective-See, who undertook an investigation of the application, Adware Doctor is a capital piece of spyware - and it took Apple more than a month to remove the app from the Mac Store even once Wardle had turned over his findings.

What's interesting about this incident is that it's rare to find malicious apps slipping through Apple's strict security criteria when it comes to what users can download in the app store.

A number of applications from Apple's Mac App Store have reportedly been secretly recording users' browsing histories before uploading them to remote servers. In a blog post, the company said that the apps "collected and uploaded a small snapshot of the browser history on a one-time basis, covering the 24 hours prior to installation".

These problems raise serious questions about the security of software downloaded from the Mac App Store.

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While Adware Doctor does indeed contain a malware detection database, when you actually tell it to clean your system, it gets busy... exfiltrating all of your data.

Apple has removed multiple apps by security vendor Trend Micro from its App Store, following allegations by researchers that the programs exfiltrate sensitive data without users' consent. Cleaner, and Dr. Unarchiver to upload user data to an external server is not singular, Privacy_1 points out.

"We've continued to fight against this app, as well as others made by the same developer, and it has been taken down several times now, but in a continued failure of Apple's review process, is always replaced by a new version before long", said Reed. "Cleaner, a cleanup app that offers Memory Optimisation, Disk Cleaning and System Monitoring, and Dr. Antivirus, an antivirus app that protects Mac users from adware and hijack browsers".

Trend Micro is yet to explain the connection with shady apps from other developers and why the its products were removed from the App Store.

The apps' behaviour was noticed by a security researcher last week. If more apps are found to be covertly gathering user data, however, this reputation could be at risk.

Other reports by GizPress

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