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A glaring security mistake has been discovered in Apple’s most recent desktop operating system. It’s not the sort of vulnerability that requires complicated malware or IT knowledge; anyone can learn this exploit in a matter of minutes to steal your password. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

What is the bug?

The vulnerability pertains to sweeping changes in how macOS stores files. In the High Sierra update, the Apple File System (APFS) was introduced to make opening and saving files much faster. As an added bonus, APFS also added advanced features like drive encryption.

However, users who add a second encrypted APFS partition to their computer’s drive aren’t keeping their data safe from prying eyes.

Let’s imagine you want to create a separate storage partition for your work files. The data contains sensitive information so you encrypt the drive and add a password.

If in the course of setting the password you were to provide a password hint, High Sierra will display your password when anyone clicks Show Hint when accessing the drive. You can see how it’s done in this 45-second video.

When anyone can retrieve your password in a matter of seconds, encryption becomes completely pointless.

How to fix this vulnerability

Sadly, the update for encrypted APFS drives requires much more than installing a patch. As such, we do not recommend trying to fix this issue without professional help if your encrypted partition has irreplaceable data. It is a complicated process and could result in data loss.

Apple procedures for fixing the issue if you’ve already encrypted a drive include:

  1. Installing the most recent macOS update
  2. Backing up the encrypted drive
  3. “Unmounting” and erasing the original drive
  4. Creating a new encrypted APFS drive
  5. Entering a new password and password hint
  6. Restoring the backup from Step 2 to the updated partition

Apple’s macOS is a great operating system. It is reliable, secure, and user friendly -- but like any piece of software, it’s not perfect. Don’t make the mistake of assuming macOS is safe enough to protect your data without outside help. For help encrypting your drives or securing your Macs, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

A common reason for running the Windows operating system (OS) on a Mac computer is to bypass compatibility issues. Virtualization is the only way to efficiently install OS-specific software on any machine, so let’s go over some of the ways this solution creates synergy between the two platforms.

Configure an entire machine with a few clicks

With programs like VMware and Parallels, installing Microsoft’s OS on your Mac is almost as easy as creating a new document in Office. The process varies between vendors, but it’s usually akin to clicking File and New and then choosing between Windows XP, 7, 8 or 10, and typing in your product key.

Deciding how much hard drive space and RAM get devoted to your virtual machine is also simple and user-friendly. For example, allocating memory to your Windows partition is done by sliding a marker along a scale that is color-coded based on the recommendations of your virtualization software.

Once you've completed these simple steps, click Finish and the rest will be configured for you.

Picture-in-picture computing

Older OS virtualization solutions forced you to choose which platform you would use by presenting the options while the computer was still booting up. Once you picked one operating system, there was no way to switch without restarting the whole computer.

Now, you can open Windows as if it were just another desktop application. This is especially useful when you need to work in both OSs simultaneously. Just adjust your Windows screen to half the size of your monitor and use the other half for MacOS applications.

Another reason this is so important is because it allows you to run multiple versions of Windows at the same time. Half of your screen could be running an outdated application in Windows XP while the other half is working in Windows 10.

Touchbar support

The customizable touchscreen that was added to Apple’s most recent line of laptops is a great way to create shortcuts and increase productivity. Virtualization applications have added Touch Bar support so you can use it to interact with Windows applications.

For example, a Touch Bar button for opening Cortana -- Microsoft’s AI assistant -- is included in the Parallels virtualization software. Alternatively, you can also use Apple’s keyboard touch screen to toggle between virtual OSs or interact with your Mac while still working in Windows.

Single Application Mode

Containers are a popular subset of virtualization solutions that allow you to give users access to a single application rather than an entire OS. Unfortunately, they are incredibly difficult to set up and manage. Updates to Mac virtualization software have simplified the process with a “Single Application Mode” whereby administrators can grant employees access to preconfigured Windows partitions with only one program installed.

Snapshots

Regardless of whether you’re a certified virtualization professional or a consumer trying to make it work with low-cost software, everyone makes mistakes. With saved configurations of Windows installs known as Snapshots, you can start over without having to set up everything from scratch.

If one of your Windows partitions becomes infected with malware, loading a Snapshot rolls everything back to its original state so you don’t have to configure the virtual hardware or retype the Windows product key. Best of all, restoring a Snapshot is much quicker than a fresh install.

Taking advantage of everything virtualization has to offer involves a lot of IT planning and maintenance. Fortunately, it’s all within reach for small- and medium-sized businesses that partner with a managed IT services provider. Contact us today to learn more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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