Security has become an important issue for computer users. Mac users are not immune to thieves. How can you keep your Mac’s files safe and secure?
One of the safest and most secure methods is to use military grade encryption on Mac files. How do you add such security to your files? Encrypting files on a Mac is much easier than it sounds and protects files against theft and disaster.
Are Your Files Safe From Thieves?
Allow me to give you two basic methods of adding security to your Mac’s files. One is free and already built-in to your Mac. The other is commercial and comes with more options for easier management.
Files, documents, videos, photos, email are not secure on your Mac.
Mac users don’t have much to worry about when it comes to viruses or hackers breaking in to your Mac. Thieves? That’s a totally different story. Notebooks get lost (and stolen). Desktop Macs get stolen from home and office.
What can you do to secure your files from hackers and thieves?
Military Grade Security? How?
Apple has a very long web page devoted to Security in Mac OS X. It touches briefly on everything from OS X’s built in firewall to passwords to encrypted disk images to authentication.
There’s plenty of information but not much detail. One of the easier methods to make your Mac’s files secure is the built-in FileVault. You’ll find it in the Personal section (top row) of System Preferences > Security.
FileVault encrypts all the files in your Mac’s home folder and it’s drop dead easy to use. Set up a password and click to turn on FileVault, and wait awhile as it encrypts your files.
Getting to your files is easy because File Vault opens your files on the fly. Even if your Mac is stolen getting to the files is next to impossible.
A Better Security Method
FileVault is decent security. It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s built-in. It’s free. Management is easy because there’s nothing to do. All the files in your Home directory are encrypted.
FileVault does not do back ups. You can’t easily create multiple vaults with separate passwords. You can’t easily move the FileVault encrypted files from one place to another. And FileVault doesn’t add the extra security of the government’s new 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard.
What’s better than Apple’s built-in file security? Knox.
This very secure Mac utility works in a similar method to FileVault, except it works on multiple disk images, creates multiple vaults (different files for different users), offers a back up function, and comes with a higher grade of security.
Getting started is simple and straightforward.
Choose a New Vault to get started. Give it a name and password (which is stored securely on your Mac’s Keychain so you won’t be asked for it every time you open an encrypted file).
Knox places all the files you want into a standard OS X disk image which means you can open them simply by double-clicking the file in your Mac’s Finder. The files remain secure, even if you stop using Knox or move the files to a different Mac.
One of the best features of Knox is the automatic back up of your encrypted vaults.
Knox can back up vaults to your Mac, another Mac, a different hard disk drive, a network file server, or even an iPod or iDisk or iPhone or a USB flash drive.
Knox even backs up a copy of the back up on your Mac. To restore a vault simply click Restore Vaults, select from the list of vaults you’ve created and that version becomes the current version.
The key advantages to using Knox over your Mac’s built it FileVault are obvious, though not always necessary.
You can create multiple file vaults in Knox, and easily back them up to different locations, assigning different names and passwords to each vault.
With Mac OS X’s built in File Vault you’re basically stuck with backing up everything in your Home directory and any back up is left up to you and your regular back up system.
If you’re a Mac user, a bit paranoid, and your files are worth plenty—especially if you use a Mac notebook which could be lost or stolen—file encryption becomes your friend.