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Set a Hardware Password For Your Mac

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ssh without a passwordMany PC users are familiar with the idea of a firmware password that needs to be entered before the computer will load the OS. For PC power-users the BIOS or CMOS interface is familiar territory – and it’s the place where they set such a password.

Murphy Mac commenter Brian posted information on something similar for your Mac. Here’s the rundown.

Using the Open Firmware Password utility you can set a password on your Mac that will stop someone from resetting a user account password using the method described in this previous post. Essentially, it prevents unauthorized users from using a disk other than the machine’s internal drive to boot. The utility comes on the install disk that ships with your Mac.

Keep in mind this isn’t much additional security. It might slow down a casual attacker, but a determined foe with physical access to your machine can bypass this security. Your best bet for security that lasts is to encrypt your sensitive files using one of the methods described previously.

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One comment to “Set a Hardware Password For Your Mac”

  1. Just a short side note, when I first set an Open Firmware password on my MBP I was unable to enter it correctly on the boot screen.

    Turns out that Apple (like those old BIOS based PCs) ignores international keyboard layouts on the password prompt and falls back to the standard US QWERTY layout. Since my own password contained some fancy special characters I had to google for some keyboard pictures of an US MBP in order to find the right keys to press.

    Quite an annoying factor, especially since Apple develops both hardware and software and should (at least on notebooks — remember, those things usually have a non-replaceable keyboard) detect the right layout at the boot sequence.

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