Macintosh File Encryption

Macintosh File Encryption
Macintosh File Encryption
MacOS X FileVault
MacOS X 10.4 provides a system-level option for encrypting files on your hard drive. FileVault secures
files in your home folder by encrypting and decrypting these files while you are using them. Files are
encrypted with the login password for the individual user. If there are multiple user accounts on the
local Macintosh system, each will need to be set up with FileVault separately. To be effective, auto-login
of the user on the Macintosh should be turned off, requiring the user to type in their password each
time the Mac is turned on or restarted.
FileVault settings are managed under System Preferences. A Master Password can also be set, allowing
you to unlock any FileVault account on the computer. If either password is lost, there is no way to reset
them and data can be permanently lost. As with any password, they should be selected for their
security. If a Macintosh hard drive protected with FileVault becomes damaged or corrupt, file recovery
will be far less likely, so proper backups are all the more important.
Disk Utility
Disk Utility (Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility) can encrypt data on a more limited basis. It provides
the ability to encrypt a disk image of a folder on the local hard disk, which could then be stored
according to university security policy. Again, as with FileVault, if the password is lost any data within
the disk image cannot be recovered.
The Security Control Panel
This System Preference Panel provides access to several security features. These options include
FileVault for encrypting home directories, Secure Swap Space which eliminates the chance of someone
being able to sift through the swap space trolling for passwords. It also provides configuration options as
to when passwords are needed to gain system access.
MacOS X Screen Saver
The user password can be required to wake the system from sleep or screen saver mode by going to the
Security option under System Preferences. Make sure that the box is checked next to "Require
password to wake this computer from sleep or screensaver". This will help prevent people walking by
accessing the workstation.
MacOS X Auto Login
Macintosh systems can be set to auto-login as a certain user. Turning this feature off will enhance the
security of the system. To check this setting, go to System Preferences, Accounts and click on Login
Options. (You may be required to unlock the Accounts screen by providing the password for the admin
account to gain access to Login Options.) On the Login Options screen, make sure that "Automatically
log in" is not checked. With this feature turned off, each time the Mac is turned on or restarted, you will
be challenged for a user name and password.
Keychain
Mac OS X includes an application called Keychain. It is used to store and access usernames and
passwords, such those used by web sites that require logins. The default Keychain is called "login" and
uses the login password. For further security, you can change the Keychain password so that it must be
authenticated to separately. This way if someone gained access to your account, they would not have
instant access to your Keychain also. Keychain can also be configured to lock after a set period of
inactivity. This option can be found under Edit -> Change settings for Keychain Login in the Keychain
Access application.
Apple iPod
PodSmith 2.0 can encrypt the sync data in your iPod and keep your privacy even if stolen.
Get PodSmith 2.0 (free trial)
Screen Lock
You can lock and unlock the screen by un-mounting and mounting your iPod. Of course you can unlock
the computer by typing your password without your iPod.
File/Folder Lock
Specified folders or files can be locked by un-mounting your iPod.
Application Lock
Disable all applications except those you specify.
Mount Lock
Disable and mount the removable devices such as USB memory, iPod, CD-R/RW, and external hard disks.
This function protects you from unexpected data theft or leak.
Monitoring
PodSmith allows you to monitor the mounted drives, application usage, and contents of the drives.
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