More Mac apps are stealing and uploading your data, says report

Judy Cobb
September 12, 2018

Adware Doctor was the fourth most popular program in Apple's App Store, and purported to remove common adware threats targeting macOS users.Security vendor Malwarebytes said it had complained about Adware Doctor and the preceding, identical app, Adware Medic, since 2015.

Thomas Reed, the developer of Malwarebytes for Mac, chimed in on the thread confirming the unethical behavior and the connection between the two apps. The apps in question later collected browsing data as well as data of the apps installed on the system, made a zip file of the information and sent it to the developer's server.

It claims it prevents "malware and malicious files from infecting your Mac" and claims to be one of the best apps to do so. 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".

Nevertheless, Trend Micro has chose to remove the browser history collecting capability from all the company's Mac apps.

Specifically, researchers noted it had been gathering browser history from Chrome, Safari and Firefox users, along with a list of all running processes and software downloads before sending to AWS servers administered by someone in China.

However, it was able to return to the app store after it changed its name to Adware Doctor. However, since then other similarly problematic apps have been discovered.

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"Let's face it, your browsing history provides a glimpse into nearly every aspect of your life", Patrick Wardle, a former NSA hacker and chief research officer at cybersecurity firm, Digita Security said.

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

The app market for just about every platform out there is rife with developers who use nefarious techniques to trick users into giving them access to their valuable personal data.

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

While Adware Doctor does indeed contain a malware detection database, when you actually tell it to clean your system, it gets busy... exfiltrating all of your data.

Trend Micro, Inc is a well-known name in virus protection, so users could be forgiven for thinking that downloading an app from the company would be safe.

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