Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux Applications can access your Photos, Contacts and Data too!

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 by rasengan
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Data Privacy and Security
Your Privacy is at Risk

Data Privacy and Security

The recent privacy debacle surrounding third-party iOS applications and Android applications has garnered serious attention.  Researchers have discovered that minimal to no permissions are required for applications on these devices to access one’s contacts, photos, and other considerably confidential data.

However, the fact is, this lack of a permission-based implementation has existed in almost all consumer-based operating systems for quite some time, including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and even *nix and its many variants.  Here is a tiny snippet which shows just how easy it is to access the Pictures folder on default Mac OS X and Ubuntu installs:


int main() {
  DIR *directory;
  struct dirent *entry;
  struct passwd *pwd;

  if(pwd=getpwuid(getuid())) {
    if(directory=opendir(strcat(pwd->pw_dir,"/Pictures"))) {
  return 0;

This code could be completed with a simple upload function to steal photos, and, in Windows, it’s equally as easy.  Fortunately, for consumers, the spotlight on privacy will help to progress our beta society to become more secure.

• • •

As an example, when I was driving on the highway the other day, I came across a bunch of soft barrels filled with water in front of a concrete wall at an exit.  These barrels function to soften a collision should someone crash into the solid concrete.  While I would love to believe that someone implemented this excellent safety measure “out of the blue,” it is more likely that someone died in a horrific accident crashing into the solid concrete.

We as people strive for progress, and the safety concerning our privacy and confidential lives and data are not an exception.  Awareness is the first step.  With mistakes comes perfection.

Let’s protect our privacy.


About Andrew

Andrew is a long-time advocate of privacy and the conservation of the personal realm. He served as the brand manager for an internationally recognized best-selling product prior to co-founding Private Internet Access.

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