Tag Archive: Apple

Securely Delete Files on Macs


Do you ever miss the good old days? Like when you found a feature on your Mac that worked great, but then Apple went and removed it? I’m referring to Apple’s Secure EmptyTrash option that allowed you to securely shred files from your computer so no one could later recover them. You may remember this feature was available on the Yosemite operating system but if you went looking for it recently, you probably noticed it’s no longer available for El Capitan or Sierra.

As to why it doesn’t work, the answer is in the hardware really. Most of Apple’s new machine’s use Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of the old Hard Disk Drives
(HDD). SSD’s have a variety of advantages over HDD’s, such as improved speed, reliability, and longevity. Although SDD’s do offer numerous improvements, secure file deletion isn’t one of them.

Long story short, there is really no way to fully remove a file from an SSD drive. Some portion of it may still be retrievable.  There are some third-party apps like “FileShredder” and “Secure Delete – File Shredder” still available from the App Store but these usually cost a few dollars and can actually reduce the lifespan of your SSD drive and computer, so they are not recommended for long-term use.

The best solution for securely deleting files from your Mac computer is to turn on Apple’s FileVault utility to securely encrypt your entire drive. Ideally, you should do this from day one to ensure all files are encrypted forevermore, but turning it on now will still be effective.

To turn on FileVault go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault. Once there, press Turn on FileVault. With FileVault turned on, you no longer have to worry about securely deleting files as all files are encrypted, including deleted files. When you delete a file, it removes it from your file directory and essentially throws away the decryption key so any file delete will be securely deleted.

The only drawback is, now you will have to enter your password every time you log into your computer… but you were probably doing that already because like any security conscious law student you had already password protected your laptop, right? Right!?!?

Anyways… Happy shredding Mac users!

Computer Repair

While the School of Law does not do take-it-apart repairs the Information Services laptoprepairstaff can help trouble shoot problems you may have with your laptop computer.  For services beyond help with configuration of your hardware or software or basic trouble-shooting we strongly recommend that you work with a trusted repair vendor.

We at the School of Law strongly recommend Dell Latitude laptops for those of you who prefer the Windows operating system.  Dell Latitudes are, in our experience, unusually reliable and are designed for a corporate enterprise market.  They are certainly not perfect but we find them to be a good buy for the long haul (can you say “three years of law school?”).  Dell support can be reached through their online site or at 1-866-795-5597 for consumer technical support.

Pepperdine University IT provides limited hardware support though TechCentral.  If you have a Mac computer, we strongly recommend the area Apple Stores for your hardware support needs.  Additionally, there are local Best Buy stores that provide computer repair assistance including their famous GEEK SQUAD.

A nice resource that Dell offers is a page with links to a large number of non-dell manufacturers’ support sites.  We recommend this site for those of you who may have questions or trouble with hardware from another manufacturer.

Bottom LIne: As a law student, you don’t want to deal with a faulty computer.  We highly recommend spending a little more up front to ensure that you get a reliable system that will not be a source of worry for you during your time of study in law school.

We recommend Dell and Apple products without prejudice to other manufacturers.

Too keep your system in top shape and to prepare for the semester ahead, we recommend reading our posts on this topic:

Protecting Your Mac

Though Windows users have become accustomed to regular malicious attacks, Apple’s Macintosh users have remained largely untouched. There are a number of reasons for this; ranging from the inherent security of Mac, Linux, and Unix computers to the fact that until the last few years Apple presented a relatively small target to hackers. Regardless of the reasons Mac users have enjoyed a mostly virus-free existence, the events of the last few months have shown us that things are changing.

Several malicious programs have infected Mac computers in recent months. First was the Flashback trojan, called Flashback.K. It was quickly followed by SabPub, and Flashback.S. Apple has released security updates to address these issues. If you have not installed your Mac security updates, it is highly recommended that you do so quickly. There are links to Apple’s descriptions below, but you should be able to simply use the system update to take care of things.

Flashback.K

This trojan infected computers through a Java vulnerability. Oracle issued a patch, which Windows users received in February. This trojan was particularly challenging, as it was written in a custom programming language. Over 650,000 Mac users were infected. To see if your Mac is infected, you can follow the instructions provided by F-Secure. Apple has since provided a patch and a security update, which may make this fix obsolete.

Apple’s support page provides a link for OSX Lion users that don’t use Java here. Users of OSX Lion 2012 – 003 can find the Java patch here. Users of OSX 10.6 Update 8 can get the Java patch here.

Flashback.K altered the way users viewed the web, and exploited Google Ads to generate revenue. It created a means of artificially clicking on ads. It does this by altering search results pages on a user’s browser. You can read more about Flashback.K here.

SabPub.a

Shortly after the Flashback.K patch, a new Mac virus hit the press. This one used a Microsoft Office vulnerability. This vulnerability also included Java. There have been a few variants of this trojan as well. You can read more about the SabPub trojan here.

Flashback.S

Flashback made another pass at the end of April with a variant named Flashback.S. It, like its predecessor, used a Java exploit. There are several other variants of this trojan out there, largely targeting the un-patched Mac computers. As with Flashback.K, this does not need an administrative password to install. You can read more about Flashback.S here.

What Now?

Though these infections spread quickly, there is no need to panic. By being careful during web browsing and paying attention to program installation requests you can keep yourself relatively safe. Apple provides a page with useful tips on keeping your computing experience virus and malware-free. Check out their security tips here. In general, only follow links to trusted sites, don’t install unknown programs, and make sure you keep your security updates current.

Apple Now Bigger than Microsoft

This doesn’t fall under the usual topics for this blog, but the trivial interest is enormous.

Apple overtakes Microsoft as biggest tech company
(Reuters) – Apple Inc shot past Microsoft Corp as the world’s biggest tech company based on market value on Wednesday, the latest milestone in the resurgence of the maker of the iPhone, which nearly went out of business in the 1990s.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64P5PE20100526