Tuesday, 16 October, 2018


Popular Mac apps caught harvesting users' browsing data without consent

Popular Mac apps caught harvesting users' browsing data without consent Popular Mac apps caught harvesting users' browsing data without consent
Melba Vasquez | 13 September, 2018, 13:11

Adware Doctor is basically created to remove any adware that is found in a Mac. It works by gathering users' browsing history from their various web browsers and sending them to a server based in China.

As a result, Trend Micro states it removed this feature that collected users' browser history.

Before it was pulled, Adware Doctor was the number one paid utility in Apple's Mac App Store.

At least three apps - Dr Cleaner, Dr Antivirus, and App Uninstall - have disappeared from Apple's distribution platform after security researcher Patrick Wardle revealed they had been harvesting data.

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.

Desktop apps, curiously all from security service provider Trend Micro, have been caught collecting browser history and information about users' computers. "(The other benefit is that Apple supposedly vets all submitted applications - but as we've clearly shown here, they (sometimes?) do a miserable job)", Wardle wrote in a blog post.

A developer by the name of Trend Micro Inc. which has several apps, including Dr. Unarchiver, Dr.

User privacy and user data has been very vulnerable in recent times, and more often than not some of the third-party apps steal user's data because of loopholes in the app stores or "permission policies".

The apps are able to gain access to a users' browsing history by requesting access to the home directory on macOS.

The apps are Dr Antivirus, Dr Cleaner, and Dr Unarchiver, all under the developer account Trend Micro, Incorporated.

Despite Trend Micro's apology, not everyone in the security community is buying the company's explanations. "The potential collection and use of browser history data was explicitly disclosed in the applicable EULAs (end user license agreements) and data collection disclosures accepted by users for each product at installation", it said.

"I strongly encourage you to treat the App Store just like you would any other download location: as potentially unsafe".

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

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

IT Pro has approached Apple for comment but it had not responded at the time of publication.

Initially, the developers of the application posted it on Mac App Store as Adware Medic.

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

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