Overhaul: Input-Driven Access Control for Better Privacy on Traditional Operating Systems

Kaan Onarlioglu, William Robertson, Engin Kirda
In Proceedings of the IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN)

privacy systems ui

The prevailing security model for OSes focuses on isolating users from each other; however, the changing computing landscape has led to the extension of traditional access control models for single-user devices. Modern OSes for mobile devices such as iOS and Android have taken the opportunity provided by these new platforms to introduce permission systems in which users can manage access to sensitive resources during application installation or runtime. One drawback of similar efforts on desktop environments is that applications must be rewritten with this security model in mind, which hinders traditional OSes from enjoying the benefits of user-driven access control.

We present a novel architecture for retrofitting a dynamic, input-driven access control model into traditional OSes. In this model, access to privacy-sensitive resources is mediated based on the temporal proximity of user interactions to access requests, and requests are communicated back to the user via visual alerts. We present a prototype implementation and demonstrate how input-driven access control can be realized for resources such as the microphone, camera, clipboard, and screen contents. Our approach is transparent to applications and users, and incurs no discernible performance overhead.