Security researchers discovered that seven security apps developed by a popular security provider Trend Micro were collecting MacOS user data. Apple has already removed the apps from its official macOS app store just like security vendor removed the apps’ browser history collection capability.
Three of Trend Micro security and optimization applications including Dr. Antivirus, Dr. Cleaner, Dr. Unarchiver, App Uninstall, Dr. Battery, and Duplicate Finder have been caught collecting user data from users’ browser (Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox) histories and other apps installed on their devices to its Chinese-based server.
However, Trend Micro has defended the information stating that this was a single data collection which was conducted for security purposes to analyze whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats, and thus to improve the product & service.
The first instance of the suspicious behavior by the apps was reported on the Malwarebytes forum back in December 2017 by a security researcher Privacy_1st. The statement was also released on its’ twitter account.
Multiple security researchers confirmed that Trend Micro apps steal user data
Moreover, within 24-hours other security researchers noted similar security issues in other Trend Micro applications.
According to Thomas Reed, a security expert in Malwarebytes, confirmed that the mentioned apps steal sensitive user data.
Trend Micro admits data collection and apologize
Trend Micro has admitted the security concerns and removed the apps’ browser history collection capability. It also apologized to its users in a public statement.
We apologize to our community for concern they might have felt and can reassure all that their data is safe and at no point was compromised. We have completed the removal of browser collection features across our consumer products in question. We have permanently dumped all legacy logs, which were stored on US-based AWS servers and we believe we identified a core issue which is humbly the result of the use of common code libraries.
Apple recommends its users to remove installed Trend Micro apps
Even though Apple has already removed the mentioned applications developed by a famous security provider Trend Micro, users who have installed these security and optimization apps are highly recommended to remove them from their system.
This incident, once again confirmed that even top apps on the official Mac App Store cannot be trusted blindly.