Popular Mac App is Revealed to 'Act Like Spyware'

A popular application for Apple's Mac computer has been removed from the Mac App Store after being discovered to be stealing users' private data. Known ironically as 'Adware Doctor', the application was masquerading as a protective software application, yet had more sinister intentions. 

After being exposed by a security researcher, the application was removed from the App Store, preventing additional downloads from taking place. Below, we'll look at what went wrong and why this app was pulled. 

What is Adware Doctor?

Before being pulled from the App Store by Apple, 'Adware Doctor' was the number one paid-for utility application; that's right, this suspect application wasn't even free for users to download. Adware Doctor was marketed as being a software program designed to "prevent malware and malicious files from infecting your Mac". 

Adware Doctor was previously the top paid-for utility application in the App Store

With more than 7,200 ratings at the time prior to being removed from the App Store, Adware Doctor had heaps of 5-star reviews, so it was clearly disguising its nefarious behaviour well. It also ranked highly besides other popular and well-known, reputable applications, making it appear even more legitimate. 

After being downloaded, the Adware Doctor application would request fairly high-level access to important system files on your Mac, and in your Mac's home file directory. However, for an application that was supposedly designed to hunt down malware and other suspicious programs, this wasn't unusual. 

What Adware Doctor did wrong

Despite the apparent innocence of the application, suspicious behaviour was first picked up on by a security researcher named Patrick Wardle, as is often the case. He listed out the applications pitfalls in a personal blog post back in July 2018, but Apple have only recently taken steps to remove the application from where it was being hosted. 

He detailed how the permissions granted to the application were taken further than usual, with the app being given access to a user's browsing history for all the major internet browsers. This gave the application access to information such as what websites had been visited, and what other software had been downloaded. This data was compressed into a folder that was then routinely transmitted to a Chinese data server. 

Protecting yourself with legitimate software

Though Adware Doctor has now been removed from the App Store and shouldn't be trusted, there are other, legitimate applications that can be installed on your Mac to help keep you and your data safe. If you're looking for an alternative application, then you might want to consider one of the following programs:

  • Norton Security for Mac
  • Sophos Antivirus for Mac
  • Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

These are some of the most well-known applications available, but they're not necessarily the best nor the cheapest. For a full breakdown of your options and general advice on keeping your machine healthy, get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2820. We can help you with any of your device security needs.

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