Wardle said Adware Doctor was the fourth-highest grossing paid application on the App Store, and topped the category of paid utilities. As per the researcher, the Adware Doctor was collecting the browsing history of the users and was sharing the information with the China-based servers. "Selecting "Scan" launched an open dialog with the home directory selected, this is how the app gets access to a user's home directory, which it needs in order to collect the history files from browsers." the report noted.
Trend Micro has confirmed Wardle and Privacy First's fears are true, and that browser histories were collected as part of the code's installation. This data theft is a big issue when you consider the popularity of Dr. Unarchiver; it was the 12th most popular free app in the U.S. Mac App Store.
WHEN YOU DOWNLOAD SECURITY APPS you don't generally expect them to be spying on you - especially when they come from the Mac App Store.
Apple removed several anti-malware apps from its Mac App Store after the apps were found to export users' browser histories.
Patrick Wardle, the aforementioned security researcher, published a report into Adware Doctor on his blog.
Apps distributed by a developer called "Trend Micro, Inc." on the App Store have been caught doing the same thing.
"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", Reed said. "There is really no good reason for a "cleaning" app to be collecting this kind of user data, even if the users were informed, which was not the case".
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By taking a "snapshot" of user browser history, the offending apps were able to analyse the possibility of adware and other threats that may be hiding on user phones.
Every app in this group-or should it be a "practice" since they're all doctors?-appeared to steal data in the same way.
"Trend Micro is aware of a recent scrutiny of some of our consumer applications, including our Dr".
Update [September 10, 19:13]: Trend Micro released less than an hour ago a statement denying that its apps were stealing user data. It was listed alongside other apps including Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro X.
However, it added that it had made a decision to remove this function from the apps.
The BBC has contacted Apple for comment.
The apps have now been removed from the Mac App Store, but if you have previously installed these apps, you should uninstall them straight away.
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