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Published by British Mac

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Published by: British Mac on Sep 16, 2008
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Mac Security
Part 2
Protect Your Keychain
The Keychain is brilliant and dangerous. On the one hand, it knows your passwords to every-
thing and lets you get away with being human while still being secure (as keychain encryption is
very good). On the other, it lets you get away with being human while being insecure. For instance,

if you walk away from your computer and a stranger starts using your machine, he or she can
connect to just about any password-protected service you have access to and your computer will
\ufb01ll in the password for him or her!

As with the other areas of potential danger on OS X, there are controls that let you get

around this problem.
Go to Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access,
Select \u201cEdit\u201d in the Menu Bar and then choose \u201cChange Settings for Keychain login\u201d.

You can do two things here: set an idle timeout, or tell it to lock on sleep. I prefer just locking
on sleep because I use the screen saver option to do the idle locking of my system. A person wak-
ing a computer from sleep may not be the owner so that's a prime time to start asking for pass-
words. Until a password is entered, you won't be on instant messenger, or checking mail, or
whatever else. Programs that use passwords will be locked from getting new data.

If your keychain password is different from your account password then you have an even greater
level of security as the screen saver password won't work for the keychain, and vice-versa.
Page 1 of 5
Make a Good Password
There is a balance between an easy to remember password and a secure, random but hard to
remember password.

There are easier ways, and things you already know. For instance, do you know your car's li- cense plate? Know the plates of previous cars? Combine them in a memorable fashion, such as breaking them in half and merging two plates together.

Another popular method is to take two longish words andmisspell them. That would result in
something like "twinkel%unihorn" or "rut]row" or the like. Easy to remember and hard to guess.

If that's too simple for you, Mac OS X has a Password Assistant that helps make passwords, but since there's no emotional investment in them they can be hard to remember (though, there is a phonetic method that makes near-English words as passwords).

There are many ways to get to this password generation app but I get there by the following

Go to System Preferences > Accounts
Select the Change Password button

You can then select the little key icon that looks like this:

A screen will pop up where you can either type your own password and the computer will tell
you how secure it is, or the computer can generate a password for you. You can also select the
length of the password; choose at least 8 characters in length.

Page 2 of 5
Wireless Network Passwords
For protecting your wireless network, you need to use WPA encryption as WEP is too easy to
crack with software such asKisMac. Only use WEP if you don\u2019t have the option of WPA.

WPA is secure providing you use a long and random password. As you won\u2019t need to type this password every time you use your machines, you should make this 63 ASCII characters long and an easy way to generate a random password of this length is to go to

https://www.grc.com/passwords.htm and it will create a totally random password for you that the
site does not retain records of. Example below:-

Another couple of things re wireless networking: MAC addressing and hiding the SSID willnot stop hackers who use sniffer software such as KisMac to hack you and get access to your wireless network. These measures will only stop the casual browser from using your wireless network. WPA encryption with a strong password is all you need do to protect your wireless network.

Page 3 of 5

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