Hard Drive Me Crazy

Though the title of this post might sound like a pornographic spam, it actually refers to a hypothetical situation.

I thought of it in response to a comment to my last post; Jon Johnson talks about what would happen with the password-changing utility if someone got a hold of your laptop.

This got me thinking. Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther” provides you with the possibility of encrypting your Home directory. This directory is unencrypted magically for you when you log in, and then encrypted again when you log out. That’s probably a simplification, but it’ll do for now.

The idea behind this feature is that if somebody steals your laptop, and you’ve logged out, they don’t automatically get access to your files, because they’re encrypted on disk. BUT if getting access to those encrypted files is as easy as runnning a startup CD/DVD utility, then the feature doesn’t help very much, does it?

My question is this: if I change the password with the utility, will it decrypt the HD when I log in with the new password, or is the HD still encrypted with the old password?

I am not about to try this at home with my laptop, which is why I called it a “hypothetical” scenario above. I would, however, be interested in the result of someone else trying it.

Any takers?

One comment

  1. Jon Johnson

    I think File Vault is a final authority. You must know either your password or the master password to decrypt your home folder. There are a lot of warnings before turning it on 😉 I’ve been too afraid to even turn it on for a moment! 😛

    So, … no, I won’t be a taker on this one 😉 Not with 4 days until ADHOC, and my presentations still not fully complete 😛 Which reminds me… why am I not working on them right now? 😉