Kitz ADSL Broadband Information
adsl spacer  
Support this site
Home Broadband ISPs Tech Routers Wiki Forum
   Compare ISP   Rate your ISP
   Glossary   Glossary
Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  


Author Topic: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?  (Read 3750 times)


  • Reg Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 657
OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« on: July 28, 2018, 11:00:24 AM »

has OSX/macOS always been totally insecure or is this is fairly new "addition"?

so i was given a 2009 iMac running El Capitan to fix (blown PSU, easy fix). it hadn't been used in a long time and they had forgotten the password to log in.
i was expecting to either have to wipe and re-install or find a dodgy hack to get around the password.

however after a quick google, the very first hit shows that you can easily change the password on any account (including) root.
all you need to do is boot into recovery mode (command-R), open the terminal, type "resetpassword" and it'll let you change the password of any account on the iMac (including root). it doesn't even ask you to confirm who you are during this process. anyone with access to the imac can just reboot and change any password they want.

think different indeed.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2018, 11:14:51 AM by chenks »


  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 80
Re: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2018, 11:27:32 AM »

I am sure that if you looked, there would be similar instructions for all operating systems.

This is why you should encrypt your system disk.  If you dont do that then it is easy to edit its content by booting into a recovery mode, live usb stick or physically removing the disk.


  • Reg Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 657
Re: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2018, 11:47:12 AM »

what i'm getting at is that OSX/macOS actually has this built-in to it.
no additional software or live usb sticks were required.
i simply rebooted the system, changed the password and logged in.


  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Kitizen
  • *
  • Posts: 26207
  • Over the Rainbow Bridge
    • The ELRepo Project
Re: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2018, 05:38:04 PM »

I have a vague memory of someone else having a grumble about that very same procedure, a few years ago . . . I'm not sure if it was in this forum.  :-\
:cat:  100% Linux and, previously, Unix. Co-founder of the ELRepo Project.

Please consider making a donation to support the running of this site.


  • Helpful
  • Kitizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3989
Re: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2018, 07:22:32 PM »

With any contemporary OS, it is a mistake to think that a login password on its own provides any protection whatsoever against an attacker that has physical access to the system.  Since he has physical access, he can simply take a copy of hard drive, contents of which he can peruse at his leisure, without needing to know any of passwords of any the users.  And nobody may ever know that the copy was taken.

In contrast, an attacker who changed the password would be a bit dumb, as he’d have no way of changing it back again.

As has been suggested, the protection in this scenario, if your data needs to be kept private,  is to encrypt your hard drive using filevault   That’ll stop a passer-by from snatching the data, and the simple “resetpassword’ process won’t work either.


  • Addicted Kitizen
  • *****
  • Posts: 7156
  • Retd sw dev; A&A; 4 × 7km ADSL2; IPv6; Firebrick
Re: OSX / macOS - totally insecure?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 02:30:27 AM »

With all my customers’ Windows boxes, I always locked the BIOS to prevent any ordinary user from booting from other media or with other software, and I set things up so that that user would require physical tools to open the box. If more security was needed, then the box itself would have to be physically secured or the disk encrypted with full disk encryption.