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Trend Micro apps found to be secretly harvesting data

Trend Micro apps found to be secretly harvesting data

Wardle said Adware Doctor was the fourth-highest grossing paid application on the App Store, and topped the category of paid utilities. Apple claims they found these apps exporting users browsing history and sending to servers in China.

The apps in question were collecting users browser history and sending files, including user passwords, in a ZIP archive to a remote server. According to Trend Micro, this browser history collection feature has already been removed.

Facebook just last month clashed with Apple over data collection concerns surrounding its controversial Onavo Protect VPN app; voluntarily removing its service from the App Store after talks with the iPhone manufacturer.

Popular applications from the Mac App Store were routinely downloading users' web history, but Apple only took them down when security researchers went public.

It also removed browser history collection capability from the products, and said that no data had been compromised.

Trend Micro, Inc is a well-known name in virus protection, so users could be forgiven for thinking that downloading an app from the company would be safe. However, it looks that Apple does a miserable job sometimes when checking all submitted applications.

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.

At no point did the app ask permission or inform the user that it was collecting this data.

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.

We were in a role to substantiate these experiences, on the least with the Dr. Unarchiver app.

Apps like those made by Trend Micro are created to check if the sites you want to visit are potentially unsafe or have a poor reputation.

Despite Trend Micro's apology, not everyone in the security community is buying the company's explanations.

Trend Micro confirmed that apps collecting browsing data also include Dr Cleaner Pro, Dr Unarchiver, Dr Battery, and Duplicate Finder, and apologized to customers.

It said it had made a decision to remove the browser history collection feature and had erased all the browser history data it had stored from previous collections. Apps downloaded from the App Store are supposed to be immune to this kind of exfiltration.

Perhaps Apple does not care about the Mac App Store as much as the iOS App Store simply because it does not generate as much money for it. On technicality, the EULAs for these apps did disclose this behavior.


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