Researcher Finds Mac Flaw That Lets Apps Read Protected Files

macOS Mojave image

Apple introduced a privacy protection system called TCC in macOS Mojave. It stops unauthorized apps from accessing certain files. But a flaw in the system shows it can be bypassed.

Mac Bypass Flaw

Jeff Johnson first found the issue in September 2019. He reported it to Apple Product Security and was told it was being investigated. But as of June 29, the team says the investigation is still underway, leaving users vulnerable.

Let me explain the issue in slightly less technical terms. In this case, only Safari and Finder should be authorized (by Apple) to access the files in ~/Library/Safari, unless you grant special authorization to another app, such as giving “Full Disk Access” to Terminal. My bypass demonstrates that a maliciously crafted app can also access those files, without being given authorization.

Mr. Johnson calls macOS privacy protections “security theater” and doesn’t believe the flaw will be fixed in macOS Big Sur.

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