Apple allowed spyware posing as anti-malware tool into its Mac App Store

Apple MacBook Pro OLED with Touch Bar
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

One of the top paid utilities in the Mac App Store that claims to protect your Apple computer against malware is actually spyware in disguise that does just the opposite. The app, Adware Doctor, retails for $5 on Apple’s online storefront, and security researchers discovered that the malicious app actually collects your browsing history across the Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers and sends that data to a China-based server.

Originally, the app was posed as Adware Medic, sharing a similar name to the AdwareMedic app that was acquired by Malwarebytes, forcing Apple to remove the copycat. However, after it changed its name to Adware Doctor, Apple allowed the app back into the Mac App Store, and the app has garnered a number of likely fake five-star reviews. Security researcher Patrick Wardle with Privacy 1st claimed that he notified Apple about the app’s malicious behavior, according to a report on 9to5 Mac. Apple removed the app after numerous tech publications reported on the app’s behavior on Friday, September 7.

In addition to sending your browsing history to China, Adware Doctor also has access to your iTunes search history as well as other apps that are installed on the Mac. Because it poses as an app designed to scan your Mac for malware and spyware, Adware Doctor was able to overcome the sandbox protections on the Mac. Wardle discovered that the app requested universal access on first run, which gave it access to information found from within other apps, like browsing history data on Safari. Apple claims that the release of MacOS Mojave this fall will bring new privacy protections designed to prevent apps like Adware Doctor from accessing Safari browsing history.

However, Wardle noted that the app does actually clear your browser of adware, and the app’s data collection stopped a few days ago, PCMag reported. 9to5 Mac reported that the server in China is now offline, but there’s still a chance it could resume operation.

Adware Doctor’s entry in Apple’s official Mac App Store should be cause for concern for consumers. Even if the app is highly rated — Adware Doctor came with more than 6,000 positive reviews — users should always research an app and the developer before installing anything from the internet, regardless of where it comes from. This incident follows an earlier report this week of a rogue Chrome browser extension. A fake extension was uploaded to Google’s Chrome webstore after the original developer was hacked, allowing the hackers to gain access to its users’ logins to other sites and services.

According to Malwarebytes‘ director of Mac and mobile Thomas Reed, the firm has worked with Apple numerous times in the past to remove fake apps, but these apps will reappear as a new version with a new name before long. “It’s blindingly obvious at this point that the Mac App Store is not the safe haven of reputable software that Apple wants it to be,” he said.

Mobile

Tumblr for iOS vanishes from App Store, possibly due to inappropriate content

Tumblr for iOS is currently only allowing searches in Safe Mode, and it is not available on the App Store. The speculation is that the app's disappearance had something to do with inappropriate content.
Computing

Apple discontinues AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule as it exits Wi-Fi router business

Apple is now officially no longer in the router business. The company had already stopped selling the AirPort Express, and now its retail stores and websites have stopped offering the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.
Computing

Four fake cryptocurrency apps were listed on the Google Play Store

It is a dangerous time to be going after crytocurrency on Android. Four bogus cryptocurrency apps were spotted on the Google Play Store this week, according to a report from cybersecurity researcher Lukas Stefanko. 
Computing

Microsoft’s Always-Connected PCs gets more powerful with 64-bit app support

Microsoft announced that developers can start creating 64-bit apps for Always-Connected PCs powered by Snapdragon processors. The Windows Store will also begin to accept 64-bit app submissions for Microsoft's Windows on ARM.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for November 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for November 2018.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Mobile

Apple applies for a patent on a wrap-around iPhone display

Previously, Apple was awarded a patent for a foldable phone, and the company has been rumored to be working on one. But it's not at all similar to other concepts. Here's everything we know about a folding iPhone.
Deals

Save up to $850 with the best smartphone deals for November 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $850.
Deals

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.
Mobile

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.
Mobile

The Google Photos iOS app gets a bit better, now has depth control

Google updated the iOS version of the Google Photos app to now take advantage of the depth data that can be captured by the iPhone's camera in Portrait Mode. The new feature is already available in the Android app.
Computing

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.
Mobile

Apple confirms it’s collecting data on foot to improve its Maps app

Apple has been using cars and satellites to improve its Maps app, and it's now confirmed it's also using tech-laden pedestrians to collect data from the streets in a bid to provide better walking directions.
Mobile

Sprint offers holiday buy one, get one free deal for iPhone XR lease

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.