More Mac Apps Caught Stealing Your Browser History

The Adware Doctor issues were first spotted by security researcher Patrick Wardle. Wardle detailed the app's flaws last month but Apple just removed the app today

However, it looks that Apple does a miserable job sometimes when checking all submitted applications. Wardle noted that those running preview versions of Mojave would have had the product running within new sandbox protections that would have blocked access to private data such as browsing history.

Apart from the app sending users' browsing history to a China-based server, it equally penetrates the iTunes history of users and other apps.

More worrying than the specific abuse here is how Adware Doctor managed to sneak its malevolent intentions through Apple's supposedly-watertight security.

Trend Micro confirmed this issue.

Thankfully Apple seems to be on the case, but if you're using Adware Doctor, Dr Unarchiver or Dr Cleaner, you might want to wipe them from your system and backup your personal data.

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"Unfortunately, other apps by the same developer are also collecting this data. Cleaner, minus the list of installed applications", Reed wrote in his analysis. But an app called Dr.

Trend Micro apps, which have been removed from the Mac App Store, included Dr Cleaner, Dr Cleaner Pro, Dr. Antivirus, and Dr Unarchiver.

Trend Micro linked to a support page for Dr.

Trend Micro attempted to justify the collection of browser histories by saying this was disclosed in the end-user licence agreements for the apps in question.

RevealMobile, a monetization firm that has previously been accused of over collecting location data through popular weather apps, is implicated in this research, along with 12 other data monetization firms. This includes the one-time 24 hour log of browser history held for 3 months and permitted by users upon install.

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Finally, the company identified what it claimed to be a "core issue which is humbly the result of common code libraries", learning the data collection functionality was designed the same across all of its apps regardless of whether this was necessary for the app to work. "This has been corrected". All browser data was sent to a US-based Amazon server controlled by Trend Micro.

Since the initial report, another app with similar alleged data-stealing capabilities has since come to light, with 9to5Mac naming Dr. Unarchiver as allegedly stealing data.

The BBC has contacted Apple for comment.

According to Apple, "The safest place to download apps for your Mac is the Mac App Store". Worse, critics are now wondering how these programs were able to get past the usual screen and still allowed on the Apple App Store. If more apps are found to be covertly gathering user data, however, this reputation could be at risk.

The app also collects a list of what applications are installed on the system and where they originated, Wardle said.

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Reed is telling Mac owners to be wary of unnecessary apps.

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