updated 04:35 pm EDT, Mon July 14, 2008
10 MacBook data theft tips
Security firm Sophos has published a new list of 10 recommendations, specifically on the topic of safeguarding MacBook data. The company notes that while Windows systems are more prone to attack as the more popular format, Macs are still vulnerable, particularly when mobile ones are brought out in public. In this regard the company notes that the best protection is to simply leave data or a computer at home, unless it is absolutely necessary. When browsing at a cafe, for instance, data can be stolen simply by reading over someone's shoulder.
When a MacBook is out, it is recommended that users separate their Keychain passwords from their login passwords, by picking "Change password for Keychain 'login'" from the Keychain Access application. This forces Mac OS X to ask for a password whenever a Keychain entry is required. Along the same lines, it is suggested that instead of regular notes for important information, Secure Notes should be created through Keychain Access.
The home directory of a hard drive should be protected by FileVault containers, Sophos suggests, and other contents can encrypted through special disk images under the Disk Utility. Other tips include using the Secure Empty Trash command, which erases a file several times over, and checking "use secure virtual memory" under the System Preferences' Security options.
Some of the best security may come in the form of setting a firmware password, though Apple has, in some cases at least, hidden this option with the "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install
Disc 1/Applications/Utilities" folder. Finally, people are expected to use a password-protected screensaver whenever they step away from a MacBook, and possibly set an automatic logout timeline, which may keep thieves out of Mac OS X entirely.