Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Apple Removes Top Security Tool for Secretly Stealing Data

Apple Removes Top Security Tool for Secretly Stealing Data

Trend Micro's initial investigation confirmed data collection by a number of its apps, but the company tried to play down the significance of this. It would make sense for anti-virus software to have this kind of access for a truly thorough clean, but then nobody expects ostensibly good apps to be wrapping up browser data in a tidy zip file and uploading to the developers' servers.

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. In some cases, we've seen offending apps removed quickly, although sometimes those same apps have come back quickly (as was the case with Adware Doctor). You might expect this to be a problem with third-party app stores for Android devices, but some might be surprised to learn that Apple is having an issue with nefarious developers and apps offered for download on the highly-guarded Mac App Store.

A handful of apps on the Mac App Store may be gathering and uploading your data, including your browser history.

Giving apps access to the home directory opens up a lot of potential data: iMessage conversations and emails as well as browsing information.

While Adware Doctor does indeed contain a malware detection database, when you actually tell it to clean your system, it gets busy... exfiltrating all of your data. However, since then other similarly problematic apps have been discovered.

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But, according to what was published by the well-known security researcher Patrick Wardle, this application is accessing user data for which it did not warn that it would consult and who should have access.

Wardle added that he notified Apple of his findings a month ago, and the app has been taken down from the App Store. Apple was soon to remove the app from the Mac App Store as soon as the news broke but as it turns out, there are more apps on the App Store indulging in the same tactics.

Lists of all running processes on the computer the program is installed on, and the software the user has downloaded are also packaged up in compressed files by Adware Doctor, and sent to a server in China.

Apps collect data such as Global Positioning System coordinates, WiFi network IDs and more, and pass all of it to advertising and monetization firms.

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