Best encryption software for Mac OS X Many people are looking for effective methods to keep the sensitive files stored on their Macs away from prying eyes. Some try hiding their files, others store them on portable devices that they carry around, but encryption is undoubtedly the safest solution, especially if you're using the right tools. May 08, 2020 Related: 6 Best All In One Security Software for Mac. Entropy has been designed specifically for Mac to archive files on Mac. This dedicated Mac unzipper app supports OS X specific technologies like extended file attributes and resource forks, and also directly reads and writes archives.
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In this digital world, people have shifted their work on the web-platform. To keep your private and personal data secured from unauthorized person, there are numerous encryption software available for the PC systems and mobile phones. If you are using a Mac OS system, then you can choose from a variety of options available on the iTunes. In this article, we are going to review the latest FileVault 2 Encryption which is Apple’s personal Encryption Software.
Apple has recently redesigned their encryption scheme for the Mac users which is why all the Encryption Software have changed their software and their functionality to work with the latest Apple’s Scheme. Out of all the Encryption Software, FileVault 2 Considered as the best one for the Mac OS systems.
What is FileVault 2?
- What is FileVault 2?
FileVault 2 is a whole-disk encryption software which is redesigned by the developers. The previous edition has gained enough popularity in the digital platform. And now, we have a latest FileVault 2 Software for securing your Mac’s data from unauthorized persons.
The software encrypts the data on a Mac which helps you to prevent from unauthorized users. People who don’t have a decryption Key, will not be able to access through your system. It also asks the people for the account credentials.
How to enable FileVault 2 on a Mac OS?
Note: Before making any changes to your existing data or the system, make sure you take backup of your files and other data which is stored in your system. This helps you in restoring your data when something goes wrong with your system.
Go to the Applications folder from the Dock of your Mac system or from the Finder. Launch the Applications folder by clicking on its icon.
Now, click the System Preferences app from the menu.
From the Personal Section, you need to click on to Security and Privacy option.
In this section, you could see four different options from which, you need to select the FileVault option.
In the bottom left-corner, you would see the Lock button. Click on to this button using the Trackpad or Mouse.
Once you click the Lock button, you would be asked to enter an Administrator’s credentials I.e. your account’s username and password. Make sure you enter your Account’s Credentials from here.
After that, click on to the Unlock button.
The next page will show you Turn on FileVault button. You need to select this option.
Once you turn on the latest FileVault 2 on the Mac system, you will be displayed with a Recovery Key. This Key is needed to decrypt the hard drive encrypted by the FileVault 2 software.
Note: You need to manually enter this Key every time you need an access of the Hard Drive which is encrypted. Make sure you keep this Key stored at a safe place.
You can also keep it stored on the Apple’s Cloud and you will be asked whether to keep the password stored with Apple. You can select any option from here as per your requirements.
At last, you will be prompt with a message asking for Restarting the system. Click on to the Restart button to make effective changes on your system.
This is how you can enable Apple’s latest encryption software FileVault 2. If you are working on a system which has critical data, you should use this scheme offered by Apple to safeguard your important data from other users.
FileVault 2 Availability
FileVault 2 is available for the Mac users who are running their systems on a recent edition of macOSs. If you are using an older version of macOS, then you will be able to use the first edition, FileVault which also does the same thing to your system.
Download FileVault 2
FileVault 2 comes as a built-in Software for the Mac systems, and you don’t need to download this software especially if you are using a latest version of the MacOS. This program is turned off by default and you have to enable it for encrypting the disk. Above-mentioned steps will help you out enabling this program.
FileVault in the System Preferences under Security
|Other names||Disk encryption software|
FileVault is a disk encryption program in Mac OS X 10.3 (2003) and later. It performs on-the-fly encryption with volumes on Mac computers.
Versions and key features
FileVault was introduced with Mac OS X Panther (10.3), and could only be applied to a user's home directory, not the startup volume. The operating system uses an encrypted sparse disk image (a large single file) to present a volume for the home directory. Mac OS X Leopard and Mac OS X Snow Leopard use more modern sparse bundle disk images which spread the data over 8 MB files (called bands) within a bundle. Apple refers to this original iteration of FileVault as legacy FileVault.
Mac OS X Lion (2011) and newer offer FileVault 2, which is a significant redesign. This encrypts the entire OS X startup volume and typically includes the home directory, abandoning the disk image approach. For this approach to disk encryption, authorised users' information is loaded from a separate non-encrypted boot volume (partition/slice type Apple_Boot).
The original version of FileVault was added in Mac OS X Panther to encrypt a user's home directory.
Master passwords and recovery keys
When FileVault is enabled the system invites the user to create a master password for the computer. If a user password is forgotten, the master password or recovery key may be used to decrypt the files instead.
Migration of FileVault home directories is subject to two limitations:
- there must be no prior migration to the target computer
- the target must have no existing user accounts.
If Migration Assistant has already been used or if there are user accounts on the target:
- before migration, FileVault must be disabled at the source.
If transferring FileVault data from a previous Mac that uses 10.4 using the built-in utility to move data to a new machine, the data continues to be stored in the old sparse image format, and the user must turn FileVault off and then on again to re-encrypt in the new sparse bundle format.
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Instead of using FileVault to encrypt a user's home directory, using Disk Utility a user can create an encrypted disk image themselves and store any subset of their home directory in there (for example, ~/Documents/private). This encrypted image behaves similar to a Filevault encrypted home directory, but is under the user's maintenance.
Encrypting only a part of a user's home directory might be problematic when applications need access to the encrypted files, which will not be available until the user mounts the encrypted image. This can be mitigated to a certain extent by making symbolic links for these specific files.
Limitations and issues
- These limitations apply to versions of Mac OS X prior to v10.7 only.
Without Mac OS X Server, Time Machine will back up a FileVault home directory only while the user is logged out. In such cases, Time Machine is limited to backing up the home directory in its entirety. Using Mac OS X Server as a Time Machine destination, backups of FileVault home directories occur while users are logged in.
Because FileVault restricts the ways in which other users' processes can access the user's content, some third party backup solutions can back up the contents of a user's FileVault home directory only if other parts of the computer (including other users' home directories) are excluded.
Several shortcomings were identified in Legacy FileVault. Its security can be broken by cracking either 1024-bit RSA or 3DES-EDE.
Legacy FileVault used the CBC mode of operation (see disk encryption theory); FileVault 2 uses stronger XTS-AESW mode. Another issue is storage of keys in the macOS 'safe sleep' mode. A study published in 2008 found data remanence in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), with data retention of seconds to minutes at room temperature and much longer times when memory chips were cooled to low temperature. The study authors were able to use a cold boot attack to recover cryptographic keys for several popular disk encryption systems, including FileVault, by taking advantage of redundancy in the way keys are stored after they have been expanded for efficient use, such as in key scheduling. The authors recommend that computers be powered down, rather than be left in a 'sleep' state, when not in physical control by the owner.
Early versions of FileVault automatically stored the user's passphrase in the system keychain, requiring the user to notice and manually disable this security hole.
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In 2006, following a talk at the 23rd Chaos Communication Congress titled Unlocking FileVault: An Analysis of Apple's Encrypted Disk Storage System, Jacob Appelbaum & Ralf-Philipp Weinmann released VileFault which decrypts encrypted Mac OS X disk image files.
A free space wipe using Disk Utility left a large portion of previously deleted file remnants intact. Similarly, FileVault compact operations only wiped small parts of previously deleted data.
FileVault uses the user's login password as the encryption pass phrase. It uses the AES-XTS mode of AES with 128 bit blocks and a 256 bit key to encrypt the disk, as recommended by NIST. Only unlock-enabled users can start or unlock the drive. Once unlocked, other users may also use the computer until it is shut down.
The I/O performance penalty for using FileVault 2 was found to be in the order of around 3% when using CPUs with the AES instruction set, such as the Intel Core i and MacOS 10.10.3. Performance deterioration will be larger for CPUs without this instruction set, such as older Core CPUs.
Master passwords and recovery keys
When FileVault 2 is enabled while the system is running, the system creates and displays a recovery key for the computer, and optionally offers the user to store the key with Apple. The 120 bit recovery key is encoded with all letters and numbers 1 through 9, and read from /dev/random, and therefore relies on the security of the PRNG used in macOS. During a cryptanalysis in 2012, this mechanism was found safe.
Changing the recovery key is not possible without re-encrypting the File Vault volume.
Users who use FileVault 2 in OS X 10.9 and above can validate their key correctly works after encryption by running sudo fdesetup validaterecovery in Terminal after encryption has finished. The key must be in form xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx and will return true if correct.
Starting the OS with FileVault 2 without a user account
If a volume to be used for startup is erased and encrypted before clean installation of OS X 10.7.4 or 10.8:
- there is a password for the volume
- the clean system will immediately behave as if FileVault was enabled after installation
- there is no recovery key, no option to store the key with Apple (but the system will behave as if a key was created)
- when the computer is started, Disk Password will appear at the EfiLoginUI – this may be used to unlock the volume and start the system
- the running system will present the traditional login window.
Apple describes this type of approach as Disk Password—based DEK.
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