Trend Micro: Sorry Our Mac Apps Collected Browser Histories

13 September, 2018, 13:15 | Author: Julian Harrison
  • The Adware Doctor issues were first spotted by security researcher Patrick Wardle. Wardle detailed the app's flaws last month but Apple just removed the app today

Cleaner and Dr. Antivirus have disappeared from the Mac App Store after experts, including Malwarebytes Labs" head of Mac Thomas Reed, spotted that user data was needlessly being "exfiltrated' from these products.

Notwithstanding the spyware nature of Adware Doctor, Wardle admitted that it actually removes adware from users' browsers. It works by gathering users' browsing history from their various web browsers and sending them to a server based in China. The software security company denies these allegations and made their own statement in a blog post. However, the latest finding proves otherwise and highlights the fact that the Mac App store is not 100% secure for the Apple users.

News broke last week that Adware Doctor, an ad-blocker sold in the Mac App Store, quietly stole its users' browser histories and sent them to a server in China. The data was sent to a US-based server controlled by Trend, the company said. However, it looks that Apple does a miserable job sometimes when checking all submitted applications.

Of the controversial apps, Dr. Unarchiver is one of the top-ranked apps on the Apple App Store.

Apple pressured Facebook into removing the app, according to reports. However, it is being said that the app had violated the company's "Data Collection and Storage" guidelines.

The earlier statement said: "Dr Cleaner, Dr Cleaner Pro, Dr Antivirus, Dr Unarchiver, Dr Battery, and Duplicate Finder collected and uploaded a small snapshot of the browser history on a one-time basis, covering the 24 hours prior to installation". I've been saying this for several years now, as we've been detecting junk software in the App Store for nearly as long as I've been at Malwarebytes.

Since its approval, Adware Doctor has managed to get itself a number of excellent but fake reviews on the Mac App Store.

But the app took those permissions a step further by collecting a user's browser history, a list of other software and any apps you've downloaded.

Trend is removing this, er, feature from its software, though.

Logs of user browser history, previously held for three months, have now been deleted.

Apple hadn't responded to a request for comment. The question is whether or not significant media attention will be required to reveal other bad actors in the Mac App Store too, or if this series of events will change the vetting process.

Reed is telling Mac owners to be wary of unnecessary apps.

Despite cases like this, however, App Stores are safer than the wild internet as curtain - even one that is many times perfunctory - can still screen unsafe apps more often than not.



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