Blocking access to websites with objective-C / root privileges in objective-C

Posted by kvaruni on Stack Overflow See other posts from Stack Overflow or by kvaruni
Published on 2010-04-06T14:07:49Z Indexed on 2010/04/06 14:13 UTC
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I am writing a program in Objective-C (XCode 3.2, on Snow Leopard) that is capable of either selectively blocking certain sites for a duration or only allow certain sites (and thus block all others) for a duration. The reasoning behind this program is rather simple. I tend to get distracted when I have full internet access, but I do need internet access during my working hours to get to a number of work-related websites. Clearly, this is not a permanent block, but only helps me to focus whenever I find myself wandering a bit too much.

At the moment, I am using a Unix script that is called via AppleScript to obtain Administrator permissions. It then activates a number of ipfw rules and clears those after a specific duration to restore full internet access. Simple and effective, but since I am running as a standard user, it gets cumbersome to enter my administrator password each and every time I want to go "offline". Furthermore, this is a great opportunity to learn to work with XCode and Objective-C. At the moment, everything works as expected, minus the actual blocking. I can add a number of sites in a list, specify whether or not I want to block or allow these websites and I can "start" the blocking by specifying a time until which I want to stay "offline".

However, I find it hard to obtain clear information on how I can run a privileged Unix command from Objective-C. Ideally, I would like to be able to store information with respect to the Administrator account into the Keychain to use these later on, so that I can simply move into "offline" mode with the convenience of clicking a button. Even more ideally, there might be some class in Objective-C with which I can block access to some/all websites for this particular user without needing to rely on privileged Unix commands. A third possibility is in starting this program with root permissions and the reducing the permissions until I need them, but since this is a GUI application that is nested in the menu bar of OS X, the results are rather awkward and getting it to run each and every time with root permission is no easy task.

Anyone who can offer me some pointers or advice? Please, no security-warnings, I am fully aware that what I want to do is a potential security threat.

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