OS X Yosemite Contains Privacy Glitch With Spotlight
It seems like all that we hear these days is about security breaches and data leakage. With Sony’s hack attack marking a rather scary end to 2014, any glitch in the systems of any company is now being handled with utmost priority.
Apple is one company being struck with blows over and over again, regarding loopholes in either their products or the operating system. After iOS 8, another bug – a rather alarming bug – was revealed in OS X Yosemite this week, through which bots, spammers, phishers and online tracking companies can pull e-mail addresses, IP addresses and other personal information without the user’s consent.
The IDG News Service, along with the original discoverer of the privacy glitch in OS X, Hiese, ran various tests to find out that regardless of Apple Mail clients using recommended safety protocols, Spotlight searches ignore the requests performed and reveal the sensitive information to anyone snooping on the line.
This privacy risk appears when people use the Spotlight Search feature, which also indexes emails received with the Apple Mail email client. When searching a Mac, Spotlight shows previews of emails and when it does this, it automatically loads external images linked in HTML email. So even if you have disabled the “load remote content in messages” option in your Apple Mail app, it won’t prevent the the privacy glitch in OS X from working.
However, you can save yourself from destruction by blocking Spotlight from including emails in your search results. You can do that by:
- Go to System Preferences Menu in OS X Yosemite
- Uncheck “Mail & Messages” option for Spotlight
Apart from revealing IP addresses, the privacy glitch in OS X also reveals your OS versions, browser details and Quick Look version.
To clarify exactly how this bug affects you: an email sender attaches a small gif file into the email, which can send data back to the sender once the email is opened by the recipient. These techniques are used by spammers, phishers and email marketers to gather user’s relevant information to target advertisements effectively.