9 Replies Latest reply: Apr 10, 2014 3:30 AM by BobHarris
Dlawn Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

     My wife, a therapist, has been required to use computer equipment and file encription that is HIPAA compliant for medical privacy issues. She was told by her trainers that the mac had little to no security and was easily cracked. I was surprised and I told her the mac was pretty secure. I googled teh issue.

     It would seem, from the following link, that I may have been very wrong. Is it really this easy to get into a stolen mac? Can the system password be so easily circumvented? If this is true, even I, who know next to nothing about computer programming, could hack a mac and get to all the data.



Mac mini, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • Kurt Lang Level 8 Level 8 (35,910 points)

    ANY computer and any OS can be cracked when a person has direct access to the computer. To say the Mac OS has little to no security is utterly laughable.


    Ask these people how many viruses have been written that have worked in any version of OS X since its inception. That would be, and still is zero. Then ask them how many new Windows viruses are found every week.

  • Dlawn Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    I guess I am just shocked at how easy it is to circumvent the system password. I thought it would be a tricky deal requiring some serious computing knowledge. The password looks like its there to keep out friends mostly. 

  • BobHarris Level 6 Level 6 (16,340 points)

    You can set File Vault 2 (whole disk encryption)


    You can enable a firmware password.


    The whole disk encryption alone should stop anyone as long as they do not get access while the system is not locked.

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (30,620 points)

    This is not specific to the Mac. Any time a hacker has physical access to any computer - Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever - data can be accessed almost trivially.


    The only exception to this is data that is properly encrypted. Such data cannot be accessed by a hacker, provided that the encryption is strong, and that the password is strong and not stored somewhere that the hacker can access. On a Mac, you can accomplish this with FileVault, as Bob mentions. Automatic login must be disabled, and the user password must be strong. This will keep an attacker out of your data... unless they can get you to subvert your own system by installing malware, but that's very rare on the Mac.

  • Dlawn Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    Thank you all. I have been naively thinking that having a good system password was a good line of protection in case of theft. I may activate FileVault.

  • Allan Eckert Level 8 Level 8 (48,505 points)

    My way of handling that is to have all of my personal data encrypted with 1Password. Then I copy only the data I am currently working on physically on my MBP from my Mac Pro where I maintain all of my data. In this way they only would get the project I am currently working on at the time.



  • Dlawn Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    Allan, With 1Password does it protect the mac's system password from being bypassed, as the video shows, and provide protection? That would be a good solution.

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (30,620 points)

    Dlawn wrote:


    Allan, With 1Password does it protect the mac's system password from being bypassed


    No. 1Password simply provides an encrypted file in which you can store things like passwords and credit card numbers, along with software to make it easy to extract those things from the encrypted file and insert them on websites. It's very good at that, but it does not provide encryption of your documents or your hard drive.

  • BobHarris Level 6 Level 6 (16,340 points)

    1Password can also store encrypted notes, but NOT another apps formatted documents.