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Apple Removes Trend Micro Security Apps After Being Caught Collecting MacOS User Data

Apple Removes Trend Micro Security Apps After Being Caught Collecting MacOS User Data
Apple Removes Trend Micro Security Apps After Being Caught Collecting MacOS User Data. Apple has removed a couple of Trend Micro anti-malware apps from its Mac App Store, after they were caught collecting and siphoning off user data and browsing history without their consent. This news comes a few days after Apple removed another top security app – the Adware Doctor (not from Trend Micro) for similar reasons. The apps start collecting user data upon launch, put the information in a file and then exfiltrate it to their developer’s servers.

The three apps removed include Dr. Antivirus, Dr. Cleaner, and Dr. Unarchiver and are no longer available for download at the Mac App Store. These apps were spotted by multiple researchers to be collecting and uploading user data and browsing history from Safari, Firefox and Chrome, , as well as other sensitive information from applications installed on their systems.

The issue was initially reported by Malwarebyes founder, Thomas Reed who had earlier noticed the behavior and discussed it at a Malwarebytes forum in December 2017. Reed recently published a video the day before Apple removed the Trend Micro apps (10Sept2018), demonstrating how the apps collected user data from popular web browsers and then sent it to a server linked to

Within 24 hours, the revelation sparked controversy and other researchers joined in, including Patrick Wardle, co-founder of Digita Security and founder of Mac Security website – Objective-See; Privacy 1st (who discovered and reported Adware Doctor’s spyware-like behavior) as well as a couple of other researchers who reported the activity to Apple.

Meanwhile, the popular cyber-security vendor has downplayed the act, saying:

This was a one-time data collection of browser history, done for security purposes to analyze whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats…to improve the product & service,

the company argued.

Normally, apps from the Apple Mac store are sandboxed, so they are fairly limited in the types and extent of data they can access. However, because security apps are built to scan for security issues and clean up systems, they need more information that other apps can’t access, so these apps are designed to request access to main files on the user’s devices to gain the access they need. Once a user grants the app access to the home folder, the app has access to all user preferences and settings.

The company explains, however, in a statement that it has completed an initial investigation of a privacy concern related to many of its MacOS consumer products.

We apologize to our community for concerns they might have felt and we reassure them that all their data are safe and at no point was compromised. We have completed the removal of browser data collection features across our consumer products in question and have permanently dumped all legacy logs, which were stored on US-based AWS servers. We have identified a core issue which is humbly the result of the use of common code libraries,

Trend Micro stated.


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UK Fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica Scandal


UK Fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The UK has hit Facebook a fine of $645,000 for the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. It was revealed earlier this year that they had harvested the personal data of millions of profiles without the user’s consent and used it for political purposes. It is estimated that 87 million users were affected.


The fine has been enforced by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and was calculated using a pre-GDPR formula for data breach fines. Using the UK’s old Data Protection Act to fine Facebook, rather than GDPR they can only give a maximum penalty of £500,000, which is equal to what the social media giant earns every 18 minutes.


GDPR rules dictate a maximum fine of 4% of annual global turnover, which would be $1.6 billion. Unfortunately the the GDPR regulation wasn’t in place when the Cambridge Analytica story broke, coming into force in May 2018.


The UK investigation concluded that Facebook’s APIs had been allowing developers access to users information without them providing proper consent, for a long period of time between 2007 and 2014. Once they realized this loophole existed and patched it up, they did nothing to investigate the data compromised or ensure it was deleted.


[FACEBOOK] should have known better and it should have done better… We considered these contraventions to be so serious we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation. The fine would inevitably have been significantly higher under the GDPR

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement


Facebook has said they are reviewing the ICO’s findings and stated they “respectfully disagree” with some of the report, but admit they should have done more to protect users data. They also added that they found no evidence that British users profile information was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

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Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking

Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking

Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking. A security flaw in libssh leaves thousands, and potentially more, servers vulnerable to an attack. Libssh is a multiplatform C library which allows users to remotely execute programs, transfer files, manage public keys and use a secure and transparent tunnel.


The security flaw, discovered by Peter Winter-Smith from NCC Group, allows a hacker to bypass the authentication process on the servers and gain access to the system without having to enter a password.


An attacker can do this by sending the SSH server “SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_SUCCESS” message instead of the “SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_REQUEST” message that a server usually expects and which libssh uses as a sign that an authentication procedure needs to initiate.


The libssh system will treat this message to mean the authentication has already taken place and allow the attacker access to the server. The flaw (CVE-2018-10933) was released in January 2014 in release 0.6.0.


It’s estimated that the vulnerability currently affects at least 3000 servers, however this is based on a small search and the scale of the problem is not yet known. There were concerns that the popular version control site for developers to work collaboratively on projects, GitHub, was affected but they have released a statement denying this. Github claims the way they use libssh means they are not vulnerable to this exploit.


“We use a custom version of libssh; SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_SUCCESS with the libssh server is not relied upon for pubkey-based auth, which is what we use the library for,”

a GitHub security official said on twitter


The security flaw is only on the server side, meaning users who have a libssh based SSH client installed on their computer will be safe from potential attackers looking to exploit this vulnerability.


While there are currently no public exploits available for the vulnerability, they are easy to put together so these are likely to pop up online in the coming days and weeks.

The team at libssh released versions 0.8.4 and 0.7.6 yesterday to handle this bug.


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Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store.

Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store

Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store.


A malicious app called “Album by Google Photos” was found to be hosted on the Microsoft store. The app was pretending to be part of Google Photos, but was in fact an ad clicker that generates hidden adverts within the Windows 10 Operating System.


The ad clicker app seemed credible to users because of its name, and also the fact it claimed to be created by Google LLC, Google’s actual Microsoft store account is Google Inc, but it looks unsuspecting to users. Microsoft came under some criticism for not realising the app was actually malicious software since the user reviews did highlight that the app was fake, with plenty of 1* reviews. One review states “ My paid Anti-malware solution detected several attempts to download malware by this app. Watch out”. The App was first released on the Microsoft store in May.


What did the application do?


The “Album by Google Photos” app is a Progressive Web Application (PWA), which acts as the front end for Google Photos and includes a legitimate login screen. Hidden in the app bundle is also an ad clicker which runs in the background and generates income for the app developers.


The app connects to ad URLS, and the ads were very similar to what users would see from typical adware, including tech support scams, random chrome extensions, fake flash and java installs and general low-quality sites.


Microsoft haven’t commented how this app managed to pass the Microsoft review process before ending up on the store.  This is somewhat concerning since it could mean other malicious apps of a similar nature have flown under the radar and are still infecting user’s computers. We are waiting for Microsoft to comment on the issue.

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