Popular Apple Mac apps allegedly stealing users' browsing histories

Posted September 13, 2018

"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".

"The potential collection and use of browser history data was explicitly disclosed in the applicable EULAs and data collection disclosures accepted by users for each product at installation", Trend said in a statement. "Selecting "Scan" launched an open dialog with the home directory selected, this is how the app gets access to a user's home directory, which it needs in order to collect the history files from browsers." the report noted.

We reached out to Trend Micro for a statement on the matter but received no reply at the time of publishing.

If you are the user of the well-known security application Adware Doctor then it is time to remove the application from your Mac and stop being spied on by an app for which you paid.

User privacy has been a growing concern and it seems a new batch of Mac Apps from the Apple store have raised a howl.

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Further analysis by security researcher Patrick Wardle showed that Adware Doctor sent the complete browser history from Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. All browser data was sent to a US-based Amazon server controlled by Trend Micro.

Adware Doctor, the app in question, was the highest-grossing utility app in the app store before being taken down.

"The Mac App Store is not the safe haven of reputable software that Apple wants it to be", wrote Malwarebytes' Reed.

As of this day, "Dr. Unarchiver" is the nº 12 most standard free app in the US Mac App Retailer.

Apart from the app sending users' browsing history to a China-based server, it equally penetrates the iTunes history of users and other apps. 9to5Mac has performed tests and found that apps from one particular publisher including apps Dr. Unarchiver and Dr. "This includes the one-time 24 hour log of browser history held for three months and permitted by users upon install".

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He discovered that the app was promoting the Trend Micro Antivirus product in the store, with no apparent connection.

Trend Micro is taking customer concerns seriously and has made a decision to remove this browser history collection capability from the products at issue.

The BBC has contacted Apple for comment. And given that Apple makes a 30 percent cut of every purchase of this popular app, there isn't much financial incentive to withdraw the app from the store.

Thomas Reed, the developer of Malwarebytes for Mac, chimed in on the thread confirming the unethical behavior and the connection between the two apps.

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