Apple removes anti-malware apps for harvesting browser data

Popular Mac app Adware Doctor pulled by Apple after revelation it steals browsing history

"Cleaner, a cleanup app that offers Memory Optimisation, Disk Cleaning and System Monitoring, and Dr. Antivirus, an antivirus app that protects Mac users from adware and hijack browsers".

Notwithstanding the spyware nature of Adware Doctor, Wardle admitted that it actually removes adware from users' browsers. 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.

The apps in question were collecting users browser history and sending files, including user passwords, in a ZIP archive to a remote server.

Trend said certain applications collected a one-off snapshot of users' browser histories to determine whether they had recently encountered a known malicious website. However, the latest finding proves otherwise and highlights the fact that the Mac App store is not 100% secure for the Apple users.

But Reed said on Twitter that he kept archived copies of the apps, and he did not find any in-app notifications about data collection.

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Now it seems Apple has pulled the app.

While it isn't entirely clear whether the apps were booted out or whether Trend Micro removed them, this incident comes as Apple updated its rules on privacy policies.

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.

Jobs' Mob was a little embarrassed to discover that, despite its much advertised exhaustive checking process for apps, it failed to spot that one popular virus checker was sending data to China.

But in this case, users had an entire day's worth of their browsing history sent to Trend Micro's server.

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Trend Micro is an anti-malware and security company who has several security products across platforms. The apps include the security-focused product Dr. Antivirus, in addition to device optimization tools such as Dr. As Trend Micro explains in its support section, if a site can't be verified by a local database or a memory-cache search, the service consults its server.

Despite cases like this, however, App Stores are safer than the wild internet as curtain - even one that is many times perfunctory - can still screen risky apps more often than not.

However, it added that it had made a decision to remove this function from the apps.

We apologize to our community for concern they might have felt and can reassure all that their data is safe and at no point was compromised. A spokesperson did not return requests for comment.

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

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