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Macintosh Reference Guide

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Last updated Feb 25, 2005.

As explained in the section "Ownership & Permissions," Mac OS X keeps track of who owns what on your hard drive and restricts access to files and folders based on permissions that can be changed in the Info window. However, there are many other aspects to security on your Mac, as you'll learn by reading this section.

The first thing to recognize about Mac OS X is that although it's far more secure than previous Macintosh operating systems, circumventing its protections is still rather easy. It's not that Apple is incapable of creating a bulletproof, rock-solid, impenetrable operating system. Apple simply chose not to do so because users would invariably manage to lock themselves out, and then the manufacturer would be subject to the wrath of irate users who could no longer access their own files. So the security in Mac OS X is strong enough to prevent unintentional breaches, but won't withstand concerted efforts to defeat it. Where appropriate in this section, I'll show you how to get around the Mac OS X security measures—not so that you can hack into other computers, but so that you understand how your own computer is vulnerable.