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Published on January 15th, 2015 📆 | 2242 Views ⚑

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Apple Mail Users’ Private Data Exposed By OS X Spotlight Search Glitch


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A flaw in Apple’s OS X Yosemite has been revealed and it can expose the private data of Apple Mail users. This is a very serious flaw as IP addresses and other system details may be exposed to spammers, phishers and online tracking companies.

This glitch actually appears when people use their Spotlight Search feature. The feature also happens to index your received emails if you use Apple Mail. So, when you use the Spotlight Search on a Mac, it will show you previews to your emails and this means it is automatically loading external images linked to the email.

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Users opening external files can unknowingly be sharing their private data to the email senders. Some senders may include tracking pixels in their email on purpose and this sends information back to them to tell them their email has been opened. Email marketers are the main users of this feature since it is their way of gathering data.

The privacy flaw was first revealed by the Heise, the German technology news site. IDG News Service then tested this flaw by sending emails with the tracking pixels to Apple Mail addresses. They managed to receive a preview of the unopened emails using Spotlight and they could see:

* The receiver’s IP address

* The receiver’s current OS version

* Details about the receiver’s browser

* The receiver’s Quick Look version





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While a fix or an update has yet to be released, you can temporarily fix this problem by following these steps:

* Go to your system preferences

* Click on Spotlight to access its settings

* Uncheck the Mail & Messages option for Spotlight

By doing this, none of your emails will be loaded in the Spotlight search results anymore. These steps also ensure that no external content is loaded either.

 

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