Living in a Dorm Soon; Want to Secure My MBP To The Fullest Extent

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by HappyDude20, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. HappyDude20 macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #1
    Hi guys, so in a few months i'll most likely be moving to a dorm at UCLA, though for the time being am located in a dorm-like situation here in China, where I share a home with about 6 other people.

    I'm sometimes paranoid at the fact that people can easily use my Mac and access all of my passwords and more. Keychain Access is just a Spotlight search away, and FireFox easily holds all passwords as well. (I'm using Safari exclusively now in the hopes it does not retain my PWs) 1Password has been essential to me, with the "agilekeychain" document located in my documents folder..concerning this, i'm wondering if someone was to simply take that file if they could open it just that easily, or if they would still need my 1Password Password.

    Now, I know the end all answer to all this is to simply set a secure login password, not let anyone use my computer and never leave my MBP laying around...however life isn't that simple. There are many times when my friend wants to use my Mac to check his emails, whilst I'm running out the door and leaving it in his hands. Yes I trust him, but what about if he leaves it out in the dining room table (which he has). Admittedly there are a few characters that are somewhat shady around here.

    Nevertheless thought it be appropiate to ask how to best secure my Mac from people accessing my passwords...

    ...in terms of personal files, such as sensitive finance documents, ex-girlfriend photos, etc...I've been using AllSecure, which is nice with the exception that for big files it takes time to bring them out of AllSecure.
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    California
    #2
    I don't really see any need for these aftermarket products.

    Keychain works just fine for securing your passwords. Be sure to change the Keychain app password to something different than your login password as that is easy to hack/change.

    Use OS X FileVault to encrypt your files.

    Setup firmware password protection so nobody can boot to single user mode and change your login password.
     
  3. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #3

    Thank you for the Apple link, i'll make sure to take advantage of that.

    As for the FileVault, I could've sworn I heard before that is slows down the overall OSX experience. Secondly, I assume FireVault only protects if my MBP was stolen and someone wanted to retrieve files from my HD. Finally, would this protect me if say, I left my Mac out on a desk in the dining room...and while I was in the bathroom, someone decides to pop in a flash drive to my Mac to steal some of my files from my documents folder?

    (I'm going to research the firmware PW protection now, this seems like the ultimate in preventing someone from getting into my Mac when it's off)
     
  4. Bending Pixels macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    #4
    One other thing to consider getting would be something like Lojack - http://www.absolute.com/en/lojackforlaptops/home.aspx

    In your situation, requiring a strong password to log into your laptop, even when it comes out of sleep or a screen saver, is also a good idea.

    The folks at the Apple Store can also give some good guidance on how to protect your documents and stuff.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    California
    #5
    I don't use FileVault, so can't comment about the speed issue. I am not aware of any encryption that will protect files once the encrypted folders/volume is "opened". If you want to leave the machine on for a quick trip to the bathroom I suggest turning on the Keychain menu and you can quickly lock the machine from there. Open Keychain and go to Prefs and you will see a checkbox to turn on the Keychain menu. This would stop casual snooping and you can easily unlock by logging in again.
     
  6. jsgreen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #6
    Similar to the lojack post above, there is an open source solution which also tracks your machine and takes a picture using the isight camera - it is called Prey (preyproject.com). The free version tracks up to 3 machines.
     
  7. Shawnpk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #7
    There is a Mac app called iAlertU that you should check out for leaving your Mac unattended for a short period of time. The look on the persons face when they try to access your Mac with this turned on is priceless.
     
  8. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    #8
    Just wondering, what do YOU have that is so valuable that someone would actually waste time doing that to your computer?

    I think you're paranoid.
     
  9. Funkymonk macrumors 6502a

    Funkymonk

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    Jan 7, 2011
    #9
    He's a college student. It's probably has to do with porn lol.
     
  10. ranviper macrumors 6502a

    ranviper

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Adirondacks, NY
    #10
    Easy to deal with. Just set it so every time you need to access your computer you need to enter your PW. I.E. coming back from screen saver, sleep, turning on, etc. No reason you should ever leave your laptop alone and unlocked if your so paranoid. I lock the screen even to pee because my room mate and I like to change each others facebook statuses. :eek:
     
  11. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #11
    1. Account password (maybe firmware password too)
    2. New non-admin account (with no password or something easy)
    3. Fast user switching
     
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #12
    I'm trying to figure out what is the issue here.....

    You are a college kid living in the dorms. You don't have national security files, you don't have financial records of million/billionaires, you don't have health information for 1,000's of people, so what's the worry? Seriously, no one cares about pictures of your ex-girlfriend or your bank account with 20 bucks in it.


    What they do want is your laptop as a whole. Seriously that's the biggest worry you should have in college. When I was in college, it was a monthly occurrence that someone left their dorm room to run to the bathroom, came back to the room and their laptop was gone. THAT should be your worry. How to keep your laptop from being stolen.... Seriously no one is going to care about the data on your laptop.
     
  13. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #13
    OP for your purposes I think file vault or an encrypted disk image will work well enough.

    If you want *max* security from theft then simply don't let anyone have physical access. Or atleast make sure it's tethered down, perhaps even hidden away connected by keyboard and mouse to a monitor that people can use if they must (although how the heck can they afford UC** and not a laptop :confused: too much pizza and beer ? ). The k-lock on the side is a nice toy but easily destroyed in the heat of battle.

    For best security software wise i'd go with (What I use) PGP Whole Disk Encryption. Encrypt your entire OS partition (which will slow it down, less so if using an SSD), and then store your files on an encrypted flash drive or disk image that is married to your private key & passphrase (make sure to duplicate this private key as well).

    Also if you're hyper paranoid on the OS side you can use Apple's trusty Snow Leopard Security Configuration Guide. Your box will definately be one of the safest PCs around though you achieve this by reducing functionality (attack surfaces) so bad guys can't get in. It's a good read though.
     
  14. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #14
    I've been using this app for years now and really enjoy it. With the exception that the Apple Remote is needed. This is a nice security feature considering i'm the only person that touches my Apple Remote, though there have been times when I couldn't locate the Apple Remote and the MBP was ringing extremely loudly inside a public library...Concerning iAlertU, I wonder what's to happen if the alarm rings but the Apple Remote's battery is dead...? (lol)


    I agree I think I'm paranoid, however there are an array of files I wouldn't want anyone to see..for example, my folks tax information they've provided when I've filled out Fafsa and other University documents, banking info, my personal taxes...and simply other embarassing files I wouldn't want others to see, such as saved weight loss articles and the like.

    Currently I'm using AllSecure to house my yearly credit report files, alongside over 50GB's worth of videos and photos. Most vids and pix are harmless, though many are private films (personal).


    There is some porn. But I'm not ashamed of having porn. I'm more interested in hiding a folder that contains ALL of the photos i've taken with my cell phone between 2009-present. Admittedly, most of the photos taken with my cell phone are simple and harmless, though some may consist of a nude girlfriend. I wouldn't want someone simply sticking a flash drive or SD card slot in my MBP when I'm not looking and them instantly obtaining over 2000 of MY photos.

    (Currently all these private photos are in AllSecure, while iPhoto houses all the normal, innocent photos of me at the Zoo, of Great Wall of China, etc.)

    Exactly, a great reason to lock your Mac.

    Overall within this thread, I'm not stating my files should be so important that I need to encrypt them to the max but simply that I don't want anyone to be able to access my files; whether it should be by simply sticking an SD card when i'm not looking, or if my MBP was stolen altogether.


    Safari & FireFox Password Security:

    I know how easy it is to obtain passwords in FireFox. (This is in fact why I began the thread) Because I opened FireFox and saw that my security preferences had been opened, which of course houses all the saved passwords. I'm wondering if Safari offers a better level of protection. The only negative thing i've heard about Safari is that when in "Private Browsing" mode, this method isn't truly private, with OSX still saving these files someone on the system.


    I'm doing this now. :)


    I'm not a billionaire, nor do I have sensitive national security files...however, it would be a b*tch to have to recover stolen banking info, and I can't begin to imagine if someone got a hold of the logins to my investing accounts and messed with my portfolio, or simply cash out all the funds. I'm sure no one cares, but this is a preventive measure. Just because I'm not the president of the United States doesn't mean my computer doesn't hold (personally) important files.



    I think perhaps thats too much security for myself. So far within this thread i've learned that there is a method to make sure a knowledged person can't access my Mac at startup, however I need to learn how to enable this, so as to prevent anyone from accessing my Mac. Secondly, to set up a good password and require that password after everytime the computer goes to sleep or screen=saver mode. Finally, to simply not let anyone really use my computer nor leave it lying around......and i've also just enabled fast user switching.
     
  15. Shawnpk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #15
    The Apple Remote is not required. You can set a password in preferences and use that password to disarm the alarm.
     
  16. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    #16
    Again, unless you go boasting around that those files are on the computer, it would take some serious snooping for them to be found. That is, if the person has any interest in knowing what's in there in the first place.
     

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