Adware Doctor and Komros Adware Cleaner (same developer behind them), Open Any Files and Adblock Master relied on the same technique to lift the information from users.
Wardle found that the downloaded app jumped through hoops to bypass Apple's Mac sandboxing features, which prevents apps from grabbing data on the hard drive, and upload a user's browser history on Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers.
We reached out to Trend Micro for a statement on the matter but received no reply at the time of publishing.
Adware Doctor, which claimed to keep "malware and malicious files from infecting your Mac", was earlier removed when it originally posed as Adware Medic, an actual malware app released by Malwarebytes (Malwarebytes for Mac). The app came with a description as a security software and was specifically created to "prevent malware and malicious files from infecting a users Mac device".
Notably, most of the apps clandestinely uploading data were distributed by Japanese internet security company, Trend Micro.
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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. Well, that seems to be exactly what's happened with a series of apps which have now been yoinked from the store by Apple.
"Most of this is data that App Store apps should not be accessing, much less exfiltrating".
Adware Doctor and another app, Open Any Files: RAR Support, were developed by an unknown developer whose identity is based on the name of a notorious Chinese serial killer, Zhang Yongming, who was executed in 2013 after being convicted of killing 11 boys and young men. According to Trend Micro, only the last 24 hours of browsing history would be collected and then uploaded to US-based Amazon servers.
'Trend Micro is aware of a recent scrutiny of some of our consumer applications, including our Dr. A spokesperson did not return requests for comment.
Wardle added that he notified Apple of his findings a month ago, and the app has been taken down from the App Store.
Thomas Reed, the developer of Malwarebytes for Mac, chimed in on the thread confirming the unethical behavior and the connection between the two apps.