Popular Mac apps caught stealing and sharing users’ browser history

Mac App Store apps found stealing user data

Popular Mac apps caught stealing and sharing users’ browser history

After it was discovered that Adware Doctor - an app created to clear malicious files from your Mac - was secretly collecting and uploading user data to a server in China, Apple kicked the app from the store. The apps also gathered information on other apps installed on the system, according to 9to5Mac. The process of stealing user data starts after unzipping the app and the user seeing an offer to "Quick Clean Junk Files".

Security researcher Patrick Wardle said that the software sidesteps Apple's sandboxing features and snags browser histories from Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

It's blindingly obvious at this point that the Mac App Store is not the safe haven of reputable software that Apple wants it to be.

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Generally, Apple's app stores are considered to be the hosts of secure apps, but a bunch of apps from the Mac App Store are silently spying on the browser data of the users.

Reed claimed that the app itself has a long track record of unscrupulous behaviour: it was previously called "Adware Medic" - a title which Reed said was a "rip off" of his app of the same name. 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. 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.

Another thing these apps have in common is a connection with Trend Micro and a Chinese developer.

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9to5Mac| Sample browsing data collected by the app.

We reached out to Trend Micro for a statement on the matter but received no reply at the time of publishing. "This was a one-time data collection, done for security purposes (to analyze whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats, and thus to improve the product & service)".

Security firm Trend Micro has apologized after several of its consumer macOS anti-malware products and utilities were discovered to be capturing the notebook's browser history data and sending it to a remote server. I've been saying this for several years now, as we've been detecting junk software in the App Store for nearly as long as I've been at Malwarebytes.

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