Spotlight & privacy

Discussion in 'macOS' started by BIS2, May 14, 2005.

  1. BIS2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2004
    #1
    I haven't gotten to install Tiger yet, but in thinking about Spotlight it has occurred to me that I'm not sure how I feel about it, because of potential privacy issues. While its nice for me to be able to find things quickly, I started thinking about the negative side - that other people could use it find things on my computer quickly. And I might not want them to do that.

    Think about computers that more than one family member uses - I bet most people don't actually log out that often - they are signed on under one person, and many people use the computer. Or what if my brother is over and asks to go online - I don't really want him to be able to search my email for his name, for instance, and find out that I wrote to someone else about him. Or what I wrote on my Christmas list for him......etc.

    At work, I walk away from my computer all the time without signing out. There is certainly info on there that I don't want others to get into. Not that I really am that worried (or else I would sign out reguarly), but when its this easy for someone to search, it does bring up a lot of potential issues. I can think of a milion scenarios where this could turn out badly.

    I think you can control what Spotlight searches, right? But if someone really were nosy and knew a little something about the computer, wouldn't it be easy for them to change your settings?

    Has anyone else thought of this issue? Am I crazy or what?
     
  2. dotdotdot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    #2
    If you were to disable Spotlight search and someone nosy would come to try and find your files, they would enable it...

    BUT they wouldnt be able to use it for over 1/2 an hour to 2 hours later, due to HUGE indexing.

    Therefore, its not really a concern... but doesnt Apple have key combinations like Windows (Flag [Windows]+L) to log off quickly?
     
  3. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    USA! USA!
    #3
    Just move all your porn into a single folder, then exclude that folder from being searched in the spotlight preferences pane.
     
  4. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816

    StarbucksSam

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #4
    You make a point about privacy.... but let me tell you something. I have made a habit of ALWAYS putting on my password-protected screensaver because I have a little brother who can potentially get in to my private life (and a slightly overinvolved mother whom I love very much but she... might snoop a bit). If privacy is important to you, you'll just have to enter a password more often.
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #5
    ROFL

    Or else, always spell it p0rn...that way, only the h4XX0Rz will find it, and they all already have their own p0rn. :D

    Seriously, I've really felt that ever since they started adding keyboards to computers, the privacy costs have just outweighed any gains in ease of use. I just get chills thinking that someone could be using all those keys to type things and find stuff on my computer.... :(
     
  6. dotdotdot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    #6
    You mean pr0n, not p0rn...
     
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
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    #7
    pr0n??? I'm hiding nudie pictures on my computer, not shellfish! :eek: ;) :D
     
  8. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Long Beach, California
    #8
    No, he's right, it's pr0n, but surely Spotlight's smart enough to figure that out! ;)
    -Chase
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #9
    Okay, but I c0nsid3r p0rn to be an acceptable alternate. ;) LOL, somebody needs to create some kind of Spotlight UrbanDictionary plugin. :D
     
  10. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Long Beach, California
    #10
    Oh my, I can't imagine...like Google, Spotlight could support searching in all sorts of off-beat languages!

    I hope that Apple implements the security feature they implemented in the Security preference pane, where you can click the lock and it locks the preferences in that pane from being changed. That'd be helpful for Spotlight privacy.
    -Chase
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #11
    You mean like having to password in to Spotlight each time? That might not be a bad option...
     
  12. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Long Beach, California
    #12
    Not exactly. Go to System Preferences and click on the Security pane. See at the bottom there's a lock to make sure no one changes the security preferences? That might be helpful for the privacy area of Spotlight, so people couldn't change what's private without your password.
    -Chase
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
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    #13
    Sorry, I'm with you now, Chase. I'm actually really surprised it already isn't one!
     
  14. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    USA! USA!
    #14
    What they really need to do is make it so the first screen on the spotlight preference pane has to be unlocked before you can go to the "Privacy" screen. The way it is now, anyone can go to the privacy screen and see which folders are excluded from spotlight, and then just find those folders and see what the user is trying to hide.

    What I mean is the privacy list itself needs to be hidden and only shown after password input. This *should* be the way it is in some later builds of Tiger I think. Until then, calling it pr0n is the best we can do. ;)
     
  15. blackpeter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2001
    #15
    Your biggest security issue is actually your poor security habits.

    Sure, it's a pain to always log in/out, secure your screen-saver or sleep with a password and to be diligent about creating a separate user account for each person who uses the computer. But there are a lot of things we do for security's sake that we never think about because it's become habit. Locking your home/car doors, verifying credit card signatures, using a seat-belt, etc...

    The point is, the sooner you start getting in the habit of practicing good computer security habits, the sooner it will become second nature. As it is now, I can understand how it might seem like a burden. But is entering a password or logging out when you go to the bathroom really that much of a pain? When you consider the alternatives (like your collection of rare taint porn being Spotlight-ed), I think good security is worth it.
     
  16. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #16
    There is obviously a tradeoff between security and convenience. I forgot a password to a website last week, so I just typed in my user name, and bam! There was my password, in plain view, in the email that I had saved...

    Perhaps there should be an "Auto Lock", or "Sensitive Data Protection" type feature with Mac OS X that allows you to lock certain filed, folders, emails, etc., so that you must put in an administrator password to use them. Then, you could just make a system-wide keystroke or something that would automatically lock the file you're viewing, like an email, or working on, like a text edit file...

    Sure, this information was always open to anyone using my computer, but with spotlight, it makes it way easier for people to get to it... Of course, I could change my computing habits to make them more secure, but one of the main reasons that viruses and online identity theft, or data theft is so rampant, is because very few people take necessary security precautions with their computers. Now if they locked up their computer as well as their homes, that'd be a different story...
     
  17. Yaja123 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    #17
    agreed, just put a login password, and activate screen saver/sleep password - job done!

    that reminds me....must check for new porn... :p
     
  18. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #18
    Shift-cmd-Q

    Also you can set the machine to auto log out after a desired number of minutes inactivity in System Preferences -> Security (at least in Tiger, but I think I saw this option somewhere (accounts) in Panther, too).

    Private stuff, on a shared machine, are best kept in a encrypted read/write disk image. Open Disk Utility. Make a new disk image, check for read/write and encryption and be sure to make it big enough for al your ...stuff, then make an easy to forget/hard to guess password and your stuff is safe from the prying eyes of family and spotlight. Just remember to unmount(/eject) it when your done. (I think that happens automatically on log-out, so combined with the above mentioned function you should be safe.)
     
  19. BIS2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2004
    #19
    Ok, I do know that I probably ought to be logging out all the time at work, and its not that its too much of a pain, its just that I don't really need to as everything I have on my computer is work related, and I'm a teacher and I really am not concerned about young kids trying to get in to see their grades. I was just using the work one as an example.

    I think its more an issue at home though, some people (not me luckily) do have overly nosy people in their family and even if they all have separate accounts, if you are online and your mother asks if she can look something up, are you really going to say sure, just let me log out because I don't trust you? I guess its just interesting to remember than anything that can have positive uses can be used in a negative way as well.

    Oh yeah.....and for what its worth, I have no porn.....I hadn't even thought of that but I'm sure that would be a big issue for some people!
     

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