Trend Micro security apps caught sharing data stolen from Mac OS users

13 September, 2018, 13:12 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Popular Mac app Adware Doctor pulled by Apple after revelation it steals browsing history

Wardle dug into claims by @privacyis1st that the No. 4 ranked paid app, Adware Doctor - published by Yongming Zhang in the Mac App Store - was stealing data.

However, despite running as an anti-malware and anti-adware product, the Mac application was also found to be engaged in some rather dubious activities. But what the app won't tell you is that for just a few bucks it'll steal and download your browser history - including all the sites you've searched for or accessed - to servers in China run by the app's makers.

There is also a clear violation of the tech giant Apple's rules and app store by Adware Doctor because the application is skipping the macOS sandbox, which prevents apps from accessing data from other applications.

Trend said certain applications collected a one-off snapshot of users' browser histories to determine whether they had recently encountered a known malicious website.

It uses a practice called "sandboxing" to add an extra layer of security between users' systems and apps they download.

Multiple apps developed by Trend Micro are no longer available in the Mac App Store after researchers showed they were collecting browser history and information about users' computers.

RevealMobile, a monetization firm that has previously been accused of over collecting location data through popular weather apps, is implicated in this research, along with 12 other data monetization firms. All of the apps in question are made by the cyber-security company Trend Micro, which initially denied the allegations but has since issued an apology to its users. However, it looks that Apple does a miserable job sometimes when checking all submitted applications. Apple did finally remove Adware Doctor from the App Store once this story started to break, but as Wardle notes, he reported his findings to Apple a month ago and was promised a swift response.

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"It's blindingly obvious at this point that the Mac App Store is not the safe haven of reputable software that Apple wants it to be". "There is really no good reason for a "cleaning" app to be collecting this kind of user data, even if the users were informed, which was not the case".

The statement also details what Trend Micro found in its investigation: the company claims that some of its apps, including Dr.

Trend Micro confirmed this issue.

It said it had chose to remove the browser history collection feature and had erased all the browser history data it had stored from previous collections.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

And Reed said it's best to not trust certain apps in the Mac App Store.

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