updated 12:20 pm EST, Thu March 10, 2011
Users may need Apple-certified tech for bypass
Apple is increasing the hardware security present on Macs, a new support document hints. For some time Apple has had extra security built into the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) of its computers, allowing people to set a special firmware password. Theoretically this prevents someone from circumventing access restrictions using an external or DVD boot drive and options like Target Disk Mode.
In reality, methods for bypassing EFI safeguards can be found online. The new support document, though, claims that "only Apple retail stores or Apple Authorized Service Providers" can unlock the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models if a person forgets their password. The change may suggest an upgrade to Mac EFIs that requires proprietary Apple tools.
Even with more secure barriers, only casual or less technically savvy thieves may be stopped. Firmware passwords cease to be useful if a drive can be physically removed from a computer and attached to another one. Hackers may also discover a way of breaking through the new security, though no reports of this are circulating so far.