Apple Boots Anti-Malware Apps That Harvested User Data

app store

Apps from a prominent cyber-security firm have been taken down from Apple’s app store after they were found to be exporting users’ browser history.

Trend Micro, a Japan-headquartered security firm, denies allegations that their anti-malware apps had been pilfering user data and sending it to a server in China. Since their removal from the app store, the security firm has since updated the apps.

The three apps in question; Dr Cleaner, Dr Antivirus, and App Uninstall were removed by the Apple Mac app store, however, the tech behemoth has yet to publicly confirm why. In a statement, the firm said: “Reports that Trend Micro is ‘stealing user data’ and sending them to an unidentified server in China are absolutely false.”

It added that it had completed an initial investigation, which had confirmed that several apps, including Dr Cleaner and Dr Antivirus, had collected and uploaded “a small snapshot of the browser history on a one-time basis covering the 24 hours prior to installation.”

Firm Claims It Was Done for User Safety

The company said this was done for security purposes, to analyse whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats, adding: “The data collected was explicitly identified to the customer in the data collection policy and is highlighted to the user during the install.

“The browser history data was uploaded to a US-based server hosted by AWS and managed/controlled by Trend Micro. Trend Micro is taking customer concerns seriously and has decided to remove this browser history collection capability from the products at issue.”

Trend Micro Says Data Was Never Compromised

In an update to the statement, Trend Micro said: “We apologise to our community for concern they might have felt and can reassure all that their data is safe and at no point was compromised.” Logs of user browser history, previously held for three months, have now been deleted.

Before the removal of the app, its dodgy activity had already been spotted by Privacy First and Mac security expert Patrick Wardle. Wardle commented that the fact that the apps were signed off by Trend Micro and approved for the App Store by Apple should give users reason to be cautious when looking to get new software.

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