Trend Micro: Sorry Our Mac Apps Collected Browser Histories

A bunch of Mac App Store apps are secretly uploading user data to their servers

Several anti-malware apps made by Trend Micro have since been updated by the cyber-security company. It is not entirely clear yet whether Apple took action itself and stripped the info-collecting software from its online macOS application store, or if Trend Micro pulled the apps itself following complaints. The apps also gathered data on other apps installed on the system too.

Those affected say the apps collected this information without seeking any kind of consent first.

However, this incident suggests that these stores can not be fully trusted as some of the most popular apps (Dr. Unarchiver is #12 most popular free app in the US Mac App Store, Adware Doctor is #1 paid utility app) there are putting user data at risk. At the time, Dr. Unarchiver was the 12th most popular free app in the US Mac App Store, 9to5Mac reported. 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".

According to TechCrunch, the app was meant to "keep your Mac safe" by blocking malware and other malicious files including pop-up ads. One has to wonder why Apple's own security screening system for Apps failed to spot it.

The apps duped users into giving them access to their macOS home directories by promising to perform functions such as scanning for viruses or clearing caches. Cleaner (among others) were stealing all manner of data without user's express permission. Well, that seems to be exactly what's happened with a series of apps which have now been yoinked from the store by Apple. By accessing the home directory, they were then able to gain access to information about users' browsing history, and more.

Also removed is App Uninstall (spotted by security researcher Joshua Long), another product under Trend Micro's developer account.

He discovered that the app was promoting the Trend Micro Antivirus product in the store, with no apparent connection. Now with new evidence that Adware Doctor application is actually breaking the rules and stealing user data, hence, now the well-known security application Adware Doctor was eventually removed from the store and is not available. If more apps are found to be covertly gathering user data, however, this reputation could be at risk.

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