If you have the Adware Doctor app installed on your Mac, you should uninstall it ASAP.
Despite ranking as the top paid utility app in the Mac App Store, Adware Doctor is actually spyware that secretly collects data and sends it to servers in China, as security researcher Patrick Wardle recently discovered.
In a post on his site Objective-See, Wardle explains in great detail how the app collects a user’s browsing history from Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, stores this data within an encrypted file, and then sends it to servers in China.
Twitter user Privacy1st actually discovered the app was stealing user browsing history weeks ago and had reported it to Apple on Aug. 14, but the company didn’t take action until Sept. 7.
The $5 Adware Doctor app is supposed “clean” your Mac of, well, adware, by “removing extensions, cookies, caches to restore your browser” but it doesn’t do any of that.
After his findings bubble up online, Apple removed Adware Doctor from the Mac App Store. That said, consider this a PSA for anyone who has the app installed: Uninstall it immediately if you care about your data.
This case also makes you wonder how many other apps in the Mac App Store might be misleading users, pretending to be one thing even though they’re actually spyware.
Apple touts the Mac App Store as “the safest place to download apps for your Mac” and says it “reviews each app before it’s accepted by the store, and if there’s ever a problem with an app, Apple can quickly remove it from the store.”
Well, clearly Apple didn’t review Adware Doctor close enough. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the situation and will update this story if we receive a statement.