Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

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

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

Updated A bunch of Trend Micro anti-malware tools have vanished from Apple's Mac App Store - after they were spotted harvesting and siphoning off users' browser histories.

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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The final destination for the information was the trendmicro.com domain, the researcher told us, the same as the Open Any Files app.

Further analysis by security researcher Patrick Wardle showed that Adware Doctor sent the complete browser history from Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

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The apps have both been removed from the App Store, but if you have them installed on your machine it's worth removing them straight away.

A handful of apps on the Mac App Store may be gathering and uploading your data, including your browser history. We have contacted Apple and Trend Micro Inc. and will update the post if there is any response. They looked like legitimate applications, with several of them making best-selling apps lists, then they'd work their way around the sandboxing Apple uses to prevent apps from accessing data they shouldn't. 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.

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Another thing these apps have in common is a connection with Trend Micro and a Chinese developer. Already, there are calls for Apple to consider hiring an independent board to oversee app store approvals and make this area more transparent. It goes on to try to suggest that this was nothing to worry about as it "was a one-time data collection, done for security purposes", offering the justification that it was "to analyze whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats, and thus to improve the product and service". All of the apps in question are made by the cyber-security company Trend Micro, which initially denied the allegations but has since issued an apology to its users. The whole point of the Mac App Store, much like the iOS App Store, Google's Play Store or their equivalents, is to assure consumers that software downloaded from those marketplaces is safe.

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