Sorry Our Mac Apps Collected Browser Histories — Trend Micro

Ruben Fields
September 12, 2018

This issue first cropped up on Friday, when a pair of security researchers published a report that said the Mac app Adware Doctor secretly logged browser histories into a password-protected zip file and uploaded them to a server based in China.

Adware Medic was a direct copy of an app developed by Malwarebytes.

It claims it prevents "malware and malicious files from infecting your Mac" and claims to be one of the best apps to do so. It's also dumped all browser history logs from the Amazon server. Well, that seems to be exactly what's happened with a series of apps which have now been yoinked from the store by Apple.

According to a news report published on September 7, the "Adware Doctor" app is actually spyware that transmits your browsing history to servers in China. At least a handful of apps available for Mac users that ask for that permission are using that access to steal user data such as browsing history and then upload that history to analytics servers. In other cases, it has taken as long as six months for a reported app to be removed. In the meantime, every single person who bought or used Adware Doctor in the 30 days since Wardle made the initial report has had their data exfiltrated to China. We have learned that browser collection functionality was designed in common across a few of our applications and then deployed the same way for both security-oriented as well as the non-security oriented apps such as the ones in discussion.

"Trend Micro is aware of a recent scrutiny of some of our consumer applications, including our Dr". As of today all three apps have been removed from the US App Store.

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

The firm said this was done for "security purposes", in order to analyse whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats.

This is not a normal situation at the tech giant Apple, but sometimes programmers can circumvent the strict rules of the App Store and place hidden code and functions in apps that have behaviors that would not be expected.

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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