Select Mac Apps Breaching User Privacy Taken Down
User privacy has been a growing concern and it seems a new batch of Mac Apps from the Apple store have raised a howl. Worse, critics are now wondering how these programs were able to get past the usual screen and still allowed on the Apple App Store.
According to 9 to 5 Mac, the apps in question come from Trend Micro Inc., a Japanese company best known for handling IT Security. Among the dubious apps include Dr. Unarchiver and Dr. Cleaner.
The issue was already raised a couple of times in forums, revealing how the apps collect and upload a user’s browsing history from applications such as Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox to their servers. Aside from that, the apps also skim through the information of other apps installed on the system. This is the scenario once the app is launched and eventually creates a zip file after which they are uploaded to the developer’s servers.
Of the controversial apps, Dr. Unarchiver is one of the top-ranked apps on the Apple App Store. Although it has been already taken out as of this writing, it somehow renders an overview on the volume of users who have downloaded, installed and potentially used the app. It brings up a massive privacy issue and places Apple in the hot seat.
Hence, Apple will need to do plenty of explaining – particularly the part on how these apps were able to bypass the proper screen of submitted applications for the App Store. The issue at hand is the unlawful collection of data and there is no telling how much information was gathered through unauthorized access. Expected to get their share of criticism is the Cupertino company and the manner of reviewing programs submitted before being allowed on the App Store. Known to employ stricter measures compared to Google, the whole issue severely tarnishes their reputation, PC Mag said.
The whole controversy is likened to the one involving Adware Doctor, a spyware that sent browser histories to China. Prior to being removed, it was the fifth most popular paid app on the Mac App Store and uncannily got five-star reviews.
Apple has yet to issue an official statement on the matter. As for Trend Micro Inc., they confirmed the fears raised by users, alleging that the apps (Dr. Cleaner, Dr. Cleaner Pro, Dr. Antivirus, Dr. Unarchiver, Dr. Battery, and Duplicate Finder) collected and uploaded a small snapshot of the browser history on a one-time basis covering the 24 hours prior to installation. They claim that this was done for security purposes and that the data collected was explicitly identified to the customer in the data collection policy and is highlighted to the user during the install according to the Register.