"The No. 1 broken assumption of desktop security...is this very simple premise that all executing software should execute with the full permission that its user possesses," Krstic said.
"There are a bunch of programs that ship with all major operating systems--including Linux, Mac OS and Windows--that can format your hard drive, spy on your computer, spy on you with your microphone and camera, and turn over control of your computer to third parties," Krstic said.
One example of such a program, he said, is Minesweeper, a single-player game that has shipped with virtually all versions of Microsoft Windows.
"This is no exaggeration. There is nothing in place to say that Minesweeper cannot do these things. That tells me something is pretty badly broken," he said.