Mac OS X Lion LogoMalware, spyware, and security exploits frequently become front page news, because they are a serious risk to your data, to your employer’s data, and even to government data. If you unknowingly install malicious software, the creator of that application may be collecting a ton of your personal information in the background, and you would have no idea that it was going on.

Someone out there could already have your Social Security Number, your company’s Tax ID, or your credit card and bank account numbers. If you connect to public networks, someone else connected to the same network can gain access the data on your hard drive, and walk away with copies of yours personal information.

Why You Should Setup FileVault

There are several compelling reasons to set up FileVault 2 on Lion:

  • Even if someone can access your computer, they cannot access your data. You are protecting it from outsiders or even from other people who log into your Mac.
  • When you use public Wi-Fi, guest networks at your office, or any non-private network, another user on the network can connect to your Mac using Target Disk Mode, and steal data directly from your Home folder. FileVault encrypts your Home folder to eliminate this threat.
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to set up, it is exceedingly easy to use, and it is almost impossible for anyone to break the encryption.
  • If someone steals your Mac, you do not have to worry about them gaining access to your data. If it is encrypted,s they will not be able to decrypt it without your password.
  • It is not a process you need to remember to do on a regular basis. Just set it up and forget about it.
  • If you use Time Machine for your system backups, FileVault works with it to keep the backups of your data encrypted as well. If your external backup drive is stolen, that data will be protected as well.

How to enable FileVault on your Mac:

  1. Click on the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences, and then click on the FileVault tab.
  2. If the padlock in the lower left corner of the screen is locked, click on it and enter your password to unlock the settings.
    System PreferencesScreenSnapz001
  3. Click on the Turn On FileVault button to begin the FileVault setup.
  4. Choose your username from the list and click Continue.System PreferencesScreenSnapz002
  5. Copy the Recovery Key, and put it in a safe place where you will know to look for it if you need it to unlock your Mac. Click Continuewhen you are done.recovery_key_blurred
  6. You have the option of storing your recovery key with Apple or not. If you click on Do not store the recovery key with Apple, you can click Continue. If you choose to Store the recovery key with Apple, you will be prompted to choose three security questions and provide the answers to them before you can click Continue.System PreferencesScreenSnapz005
  7. You will be prompted to Restart your Mac for the encryption process to begin.System PreferencesScreenSnapz006
  8. When your Mac begins the boot-up process, you will be prompted to enter your account password to continue. Enter your password to allow the Mac to continue booting up. If you do not enter your password at this point, your Mac will not be able to complete the boot process.
  9. When OS X loads, you will see the Encrypting progress on the FileVault tab of the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences.
    System PreferencesScreenSnapz008

Conclusion:

As you can see, the FileVault setup is quick and easy, and it does not take a lot of technical knowledge to complete. Once the encryption process completes, you can put your mind at ease about protecting your data. Even if someone steals your Mac, without your password, they will not be able to access your data.

The key to keeping your system protected with FileVault is to create a strong password for your user account in OS X. If you have a weak password, one that people who know you can guess easily, or one that you have used on multiple systems and applications, there is no way to be sure that your Mac will be secure even using FileVault. Make sure to create a strong, unique password that only you can remember, and FileVault will do the rest of the work.