Friday, August 21, 2009

Encryption ain't easy

Encrypting data is an elementary mechanism to protect it from unauthorised access. It would have trivially prevented the UK's biggest data breach to date, and many others, and is now mandated across UK government systems. But why do some software companies continue to make it so *&^$&^% awkward? Apple, I'm looking at you…

FileVault, which encrypts your home directory under Mac OS, has caused me real difficulties on my MacBook, where it has corrupted my files on several occasions (once even requiring a complete reinstall). Now that I've got Apple's Time Capsule remote backup system, it will only backup FileVault partitions when you logout (usually just as I want to switch off the power). It also breaks Time Machine's selective restore function. Why is it so badly designed? It's hardly surprising that many users just give up and leave data vulnerable to thievery.

PS It also breaks Sophos Anti-Virus, but that is probably more Sophos's fault.

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