Apple takes down Trend Micro Mac apps that collected, stored user data

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

Wardle said Adware Doctor was caught out abusing AppleScript in 2016, when the application tried to elevate its system privileges.

The security firm did confirm, though, that browser histories are collected when the user first installs an app, something Trend Micro described as a "one-time" occurrence.

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

Some of these apps are Adware Doctor, Adware Medic, Dr.

Facebook just last month clashed with Apple over data collection concerns surrounding its controversial Onavo Protect VPN app; voluntarily removing its service from the App Store after talks with the iPhone manufacturer.

Trend Micro Inc.'s apps have since been removed from the Mac App Store but the fact that Dr. Unarchiver nearly made it into the top ten most popular free apps on the USA store highlights the serious security threat that the app and others like it pose to consumers.

Patrick Wardle, the aforementioned security researcher, published a report into Adware Doctor on his blog. All browser data was sent to a US-based Amazon server controlled by Trend Micro. However, Apple seems to have failed to do its job properly here.

Adware Doctor, the app in question, was the highest-grossing utility app in the app store before being taken down. Apple was soon to remove the app from the Mac App Store as soon as the news broke but as it turns out, there are more apps on the App Store indulging in the same tactics.

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"Most of this is data that App Store apps should not be accessing, much less exfiltrating", wrote Thomas Reed of Malwarebytes in an advisory.

Thanks to the permissions it has, namely the possibility of accessing browsers, it is consulting and collecting users browsing history.

Trend Micro confirmed that apps collecting browsing data also include Dr Cleaner Pro, Dr Unarchiver, Dr Battery, and Duplicate Finder, and apologized to customers.

The 9to5Mac report went on to claim that Dr. Unarchiver, Dr.

"Trend Micro is aware of a recent scrutiny of some of our consumer applications, including our Dr".

Despite denying any wrongdoing, Trend Micro said it was taking steps to reassure users that their data was safe.

Apple has not commented on the removal of the Trend Micro apps that violated its privacy provisions, or why they were not discovered before despite testing.

"How can Apple claim to care about user privacy and allow an app like this to remain in the App Store?" On technicality, the EULAs for these apps did disclose this behavior.

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