Encrypted USB flash drives

mac_in_tosh

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 6, 2016
351
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Earth
I'm running High Sierra on a MBPro. Previously, I had encrypted some USB drives that I use for storing sensitive information. I did not add the password to Keychain. They work as expected but the MBPro is getting on in years and I was wondering what would happen should it suddenly go kaput. Is the encryption password somehow tied to this particular laptop or would I be able to open the flash drives on any other reasonably recent Mac? I say reasonably recent because I booted up a long dormant G5 to test one of them out and it did not work on that machine.

Also, I'm curious - why would one want to add the password to Keychain? Wouldn't that enable anyone to plug the drive into your machine and get access to its contents without knowing the password? Ditto for an encrypted disk image on the machine.
 
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chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,181
2,513
I'm running High Sierra on a MBPro. Previously, I had encrypted some USB drives that I use for storing sensitive information. I did not add the password to Keychain. They work as expected but the MBPro is getting on in years and I was wondering what would happen should it suddenly go kaput. Is the encryption password somehow tied to this particular laptop or would I be able to open the flash drives on any other reasonably recent Mac? I say reasonably recent because I booted up a long dormant G5 to test one of them out and it did not work on that machine.

Also, I'm curious - why would one want to add the password to Keychain? Wouldn't that enable anyone to plug the drive into your machine and get access to its contents without knowing the password? Ditto for an encrypted disk image on the machine.
Yes, if you save the password into keychain that device is effectively unencrypted for that particular user. If your computer does not prompt you for the password and you're certain the drive is encrypted then you should check your keychain for the saved password. The encryption is not tied into the specific computer in such a way that the computer wouldn't prompt for the password when the drive is inserted.
 
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mac_in_tosh

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 6, 2016
351
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Yes, if you save the password into keychain that device is effectively unencrypted for that particular user. If your computer does not prompt you for the password and you're certain the drive is encrypted then you should check your keychain for the saved password. The encryption is not tied into the specific computer in such a way that the computer wouldn't prompt for the password when the drive is inserted.
A password is prompted for these USB flash drives as I did not add the password to Keychain. I was just wondering if the unencryption process was tied to the particular machine on which the encryption was created or whether it would work on any new Mac that I might get in the future. So you are saying that the latter is the case. Thank you.
 
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chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,181
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A password is prompted for these USB flash drives as I did not add the password to Keychain. I was just wondering if the unencryption process was tied to the particular machine on which the encryption was created or whether it would work on any new Mac that I might get in the future. So you are saying that the latter is the case. Thank you.
Right. You'll continue to be prompted for the password on any computer where the drive is used, and when the password is entered correctly the data will be accessible as normal.
 

WankerWeasel

Suspended
Dec 10, 2004
22
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USA
Apple doesn't generally change their encryption of the drives. Did you encrypt it using Disk Utility or through some other means?
 

mac_in_tosh

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Original poster
Nov 6, 2016
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Apple doesn't generally change their encryption of the drives. Did you encrypt it using Disk Utility or through some other means?
Yes, I used Disk Utility. Are you references my finding that the de-encryption process didn't work on an old G5? I plugged the flash drive in and nothing happened. It's an old Power Mac (pre-Intel) machine running a long-discontinued OS so I'm not too concerned about it, and did it just as a test, but it's what led me to ask whether the flash drive would de-encrypt on any machine other than the one it was encrypted on.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,181
2,513
Yes, I used Disk Utility. Are you references my finding that the de-encryption process didn't work on an old G5? I plugged the flash drive in and nothing happened. It's an old Power Mac (pre-Intel) machine running a long-discontinued OS so I'm not too concerned about it, and did it just as a test, but it's what led me to ask whether the flash drive would de-encrypt on any machine other than the one it was encrypted on.
To be sure a G5 won’t support FileVault so it’s no surprise it won’t decrypt the disk.