Apple removes anti-malware apps that harvested browser data

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Apps from a well-known cyber-security firm were taken down from the Mac app store by Apple after they were found to export users' browser histories.

Several anti-malware apps made by Trend Micro have since been updated by the cyber-security company.

However, Trend Micro strongly denied allegations that the apps had been "stealing user data" and sending it to a server in China.

The apps' behaviour was noticed by a security researcher last week.

Three apps, Dr Cleaner, Dr Antivirus and App Uninstall, made by Trend Micro, were removed from the Apple Mac app store, though the tech giant has not publicly confirmed why.

"Reports that Trend Micro is 'stealing user data' and sending them to an unidentified server in China are absolutely false," said Trend Micro in a statement.

It added that it had completed an initial investigation which had confirmed that several apps, including Dr Cleaner and Dr Antivirus, had collected and uploaded "a small snapshot of the browser history on a one-time basis" at installation.

The firm said this was done for "security purposes", in order to analyse whether a user had recently encountered adware or other threats.

However, it added that it had decided to remove this function from the apps.

In an update to the statement, Trend Micro said, "We apologise to our community for concern they might have felt and can reassure all that their data is safe and at no point was compromised."

Logs of user browser history, previously held for three months, have now been deleted.

The BBC has contacted Apple for comment.