Whole Disk Encryption & OS X Lion | | The Mac Lawyer

Guest Post :: Whole Disk Encryption & OS X Lion | | The Mac Lawyer

With all the discussion about encryption and security, I asked Mac consultant (and MILO member), Matthew Bookspan, to write the following Guest Post, which I hope my readers enjoy and find helpful:

Whole Disk Encryption & OS X Lion

First, this is an exciting feature of OS X Lion for business users. I have opined about this feature before in a previous post. However, let’s state the facts: whole disk encryption ensures business users that their data is more secure than in previous releases of the operating system.

Second, let’s get an understanding of what whole disk encryption means for everyone. Security always sounds great, although it has lots of uncertainty. We’ll use the definition from Wikipedia:

Disk encryption uses disk encryption software or hardware to encrypt every bit of data that goes on a disk or disk volume. Disk encryption prevents unauthorized access to data storage. The term “full disk encryption” (or whole disk encryption) is often used to signify that everything on a disk is encrypted, including the programs that can encrypt bootable operating system partitions.

Setting up whole disk encryption (FileVault 2) in OS X Lion

Originally, we had planned to write a “how-to.” However, Apple has done a better job in articulating the setup steps in this knowledge base article. Further, in the Ars Technica review of OS X Lion, there is another great example of how to enable this feature.

Instead, we are going to focus on how you will use whole disk encryption in your daily tasks.

Before we articulate the usage, there is a key missing item from Apple’s article: time to setup. Yes, it takes time (a lot of it) to enable this feature within OS X Lion.

Let’s articulate the time in detail:

  • Initial setup (not migrating from FileVault v1): about 10-15mins
  • Encryption time: on a brand-new install of OS X Lion, with no additional applications installed, it took just over two hours to enable whole disk encryption on a three year old iMac. This time could decrease or increase based upon your system.

Using FileVault 2: Performance impacts

Once you have Filevault 2 enabled, you will not notice any performance changes. Whether it is real or a matter of perception, your files feel like they open just as fast. Your apps launch without any additional delay. Your backups via Time Machine work the same, etc.

Upon system boot, you will be prompted to login, as you must authenticate with your username and password, even if you previously did not enable this authentication.

Using FileVault 2: Security Benefits

By enabling whole disk encryption, you are adding a new level of security to your Mac. All of your data is now secured using XTS-AES 128 encryption. To translate from technical gobbledygook - this is pretty darn secure.

Utilizing whole disk encryption via FileVault 2 will ensure that if your computer is lost or stolen, your data will not be retrievable. For those with sensitive client data (or business data), utilizing this feature is fundamental to your business security.


We didn’t spend any time talking about migrating from FileVault v1 to v2 because that is handled in Apple’s Support article mentioned above. Nevertheless, the significant security and performance improvements provided with this whole disk encryption feature is essentially a complete win-win for business users.

If there are any gotchas – there are two:


Sorry for the yelling, although we wanted to make sure that you received the message loud and clear. :)

Of course, if you want to learn more about FileVault 2/whole disk encryption and security, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Blacktip.

About the Author: Matthew Bookspan is the Chief Shark at Blacktip IT Services, an Apple Consulting firm based in Orlando, FL. He’s written this post to to help us learn more about OS X Lion Security and has not recieved compensation for it.

(Note: This article was updated on July 27, 2011, after it’s original publication on July 25, 2011.)

Run Firefox From a USB Drive | | The Mac Lawyer

Guest Post :: How to Run Firefox From a USB Drive | | The Mac Lawyer

Firefox has quickly and rightfully become one of the most used and most loved Internet browsers in existence. Its fast speed, great customizable interface, and strong security measures make it the best option for most computer users when it comes to web browsing.

From an attorney’s perspective (or anyone within an information-sensitive industry), the benefits of having a USB preloaded with Firefox is clear because the very nature of their business means the information they are browsing is sensitive. When using a public or shared computer such as a library or an internet cafe, one can ensure information is saved and served from their USB and not from the computer ís hard disc, and let us not forget that all of your favorite websites and credentials can be saved within your new portable version of Firefox.

Here is a simple tutorial on how to take Firefox with you anywhere, ready to use on computers that do not have it installed already:

  1. Insert a USB thumb drive into your computer :: The USB thumb drive is the key to this whole process. Without it, there would be no reason for this little tutorial. So before doing anything, take your favorite USB drive, plug it into your computer, and make sure it is properly mounted and ready to have files installed on it.
  2. Download Firefox Portable :: Firefox Portable is a USB Drive app specifically made in order to allow users to run Firefox from any USB Drive. PortableApps.com has taken all of the complexity and frustration of making Firefox mobile, and compiled the process needed into a simple installer program. The proper program can easily be found by typing in "Firefox Portable" into you favorite search engine. Download Firefox portable and you will be ready for the next step.
  3. Install Firefox Portable :: Once Firefox Portable has been downloaded, an installer file should appear where you specified. Run this program to begin installing Firefox portable. During the install, the program will ask you where you want to install the program. Choose the device name or destination code of the USB Drive you want to run Firefox on, then click OK. The program will then take the time to make the necessary changes in your USB drive in order to allow Firefox to run from it.
  4. Using Your USB Drive to Run Firefox :: Once the install is finished, you should be able to run Firefox from any computer that can detect you USB drive properly. To do this, first safely eject the USB drive from the current computer. Next, find a computer you would like to run Firefox on, and plug the USB drive into it, making sure it is mounted properly. Once connected, find your USB Drive’s root directory folder, which should show up in the My Computer area of the device it is connected to. Inside your USB drive, you should see FirefoxPortable. Just run this program and Firefox should start up as normal on any device using your USB Drive.

There you have it. If you followed these easy steps, you should now have the ability to carry Firefox around in your pocket, ready to be called to action anywhere and at any time.

About the Author: Forte Promo specializes in promotional products for all of your business needs, look to Forte Promo for any new custom flash drives.

The Mac Lawyer | Using Macs in Law Firms | Attorney Ben Stevens

The Mac Lawyer | Using Macs in Law Firms | Attorney Ben Stevens

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Guest Post :: Whole Disk Encryption & OS X Lion

With all the discussion about encryption and security, I asked Mac consultant (and MILO member), Matthew Bookspan, to write the following Guest Post, which I hope my readers enjoy and find helpful: Whole Disk Encryption & OS X Lion First, this is an exciting feature of OS X Lion for business users. I have opined… Continue Reading

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