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Apple pulls off 'Adware Doctor' anti-malware program from Apple Store for data theft
Adware Doctor was collecting the browsing history of the users and was sharing the information with the China-based servers.
Apple, the Cupertino tech giant has recently taken down one of a popular anti-malware program which is known as 'Adware Doctor' from the App Store. Apple has reportedly taken this step following the app's alleged data stealing. It is being reported that the Adware Doctor had been stealing users data for quite some time now and Apple had pulled down the app almost after a month after an unknown cyber-security researcher called @privacy1st on Twitter had first contacted the tech giant with concerns related to the same. As per the researcher, the Adware Doctor was collecting the browsing history of the users and was sharing the information with the China-based servers.
It is being further reported that the cyber-security researcher @Privacy1st had also shot a proof-of-concept video in which he had listed out the details of suspicious behavior in the app. Following this, cyber-security researchers including Thomas Reed of Malwarebytes and Patrick Wardle of Digital security had conducted an independent investigation on the app and they found that the claims made by @Privacy1st were valid.
The independent investigation conducted by both the cyber-security researchers revealed that the Adware Doctor makes use of its elevated permissions to collect the browsing data from Gooogle Chrome, Apple's Safari and Firefox, and shared the details with the server in China. The information was shared vis 'adscan.yelabapp.com' as a part of zipped filed which is called as 'history.zip'.
The app was not free on the App Store and came with a price tag of $5. The app was quite popular and was among the top paid apps in its category. The app came with a description as a security software and was specifically designed to "prevent malware and malicious files from infecting a users Mac device". However, the app eventually used its anti-adware credentials in order to use it as a cover to bypass Apple's sandbox so that it can gain access to a user's home directory, which was quite concerning.
Apple, on the other hand, has not made any official statement on the removal of Adware Doctor from its App Store. However, it is being said that the app had violated the company's "Data Collection and Storage" guidelines. These guidelines warn the developers that they "may not use, transmit, or share a user's personal data without receiving the permission". Apple's move comes as a relief for the users as the company's effort in protecting users privacy is quite evident with this.