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  1. #1
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?


    I encrypted a few volumes on my external firewire hard drive several years ago.

    I can now remember the passphrase on some volumes and they open fine, but there are three encrypted volumes where I'm not 100% sure of the passphrase and I obviously don't remember it correctly since they don't open.
    Just comes back with incorrect password or something to that effect.

    Encryption was done with disk utility in SnowLeopard or even earlier.

    In the past, it apparently was always clear that if one forgot the password, it was impossible to access the content of the encrypted volumes.
    Is that still the case or is there some means now to retrieve the content?

    The drive is a 3.5" internal drive that I mounted into a firewire case, so I can easily take it out if that helps any.

    Probably not a good idea to post any way to retrieve the content on a public forum, so pm's are welcome

  2. #2
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    Rod Sprague's Avatar
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    Itís my opinion that if you donít have the encryption key phrase the data is lost unless you took the option to remember the key in Keychain.


    Sent from my iPhone
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  3. #3
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    chscag's Avatar
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    Your data is probably lost without that password or passphrase. The older Disk Utility encryption routine from Leopard and Snow Leopard was a forerunner to FileVault.

  4. #4
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    pm-r's Avatar
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    In the past, it apparently was always clear that if one forgot the password, it was impossible to access the content of the encrypted volumes.
    Is that still the case or is there some means now to retrieve the content?

    As far as I know, nothing has changed regarding the defination of the word encryption.

    But file corruption can sure occur which would sure goof things up.

    I'm sure you recall Apple and the FBI and United States Intelligence Community departments etc. being at loggerheads about accessing encrypted data. No proper reliable way I don't believe, or at least not one that you could probably afford!!!



    - Patrick
    ======

  5. #5
    I got lucky !!!

    Went through all my passwords stored in Keychain and there was one that rang a bell.
    It worked - and all the others I was looking for were just different arrangements of the same four word pass phrase.

    Thanks for the suggestion to check Keychain - I had thought I specifically didn't store any of these pass phrases there but (luckily) I was wrong.

  6. #6
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    pm-r's Avatar
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    Went through all my passwords stored in Keychain and there was one that rang a bell.
    It worked - and all the others I was looking for were just different arrangements of the same four word pass phrase.

    Good Lucky shot!!

    It boggles the mind to wonder what the base four-letter word might have been, and the variations!!

    But I'll bet we could have figured out what some of the four letter words that might-have-been uttered if you hadn't found the unlocking ones.



    - Patrick
    ======

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by pm-r View Post
    Good Lucky shot!!

    It boggles the mind to wonder what the base four-letter word might have been, and the variations!!
    Patrick,

    You read my post too quickly.
    It was a four word pass phrase
    And three of the words were unusual female first names from Argentina which I had never heard before - each of the four words were between 6 and 8 letters with each word capitalized.
    I think even the CIA would have trouble cracking that.

  8. #8
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    pm-r's Avatar
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    Patrick,

    You read my post too quickly.
    It was a four word pass phrase

    Yes, and I was just trying to make a bad joke out of the situation.

    I'm glad you got things unlocked.



    - Patrick
    ======

  9. #9
    Oh .... I'm just a bit dense!

    With the four letter words you're thinking of, I would have un-encrypted this in no time.

  10. #10
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    Rod Sprague's Avatar
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    Phew! Well done. Personally I have never taken the option to save a passphrase in keychain, seemed to defeat the point. That's what password managers are for.
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  11. #11
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    IWT's Avatar
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    May I just endorse Rod's comment about storing Encryption PWs in Keychain.

    The purpose of any encryption is to make sure that any unauthorised person cannot access that EHD. If you store the PW in Keychain, then anyone getting access to your Mac has immediate access to all your encrypted data.

    Write it down and hide the note somewhere obscure or give to a trusted friend/family.

    Ian
    Ian

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by IWT View Post
    May I just endorse Rod's comment about storing Encryption PWs in Keychain.

    The purpose of any encryption is to make sure that any unauthorised person cannot access that EHD. If you store the PW in Keychain, then anyone getting access to your Mac has immediate access to all your encrypted data.
    Sorry, can you explain that?

    First off - to see the password in keychain, one has to know the keychain password, so it's not that the passwords are all there for anyone to see.
    Secondly - When initially encrypting the disk, Apple offers the option to store the password in the keychain; they wouldn't do that if it made the encryption useless
    And finally - I had moved the encrypted volumes to an external hard drive totally separate from the Mac, so anyone would have to associate the external with the Mac and also know which keychain entry to look at assuming they have mey keychain password.

    I really don't understand your comment that anyone can access encrypted volume.

  13. #13
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    IWT's Avatar
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    I meant no offence, krs, I assure you.

    I was making a general point. The Keychain PW is the same as your Admin PW; so if someone knew that, or if the Mac was left unattended, by which I mean that there was no Admin PW set up to kick in if the Mac was not used for X minutes - your Keychain is exposed.

    Keychain also stores PWs in a way that allows the owner to fill in a PW automatically.

    If the owner creates a PW protected DMG file on the Mac or encrypts an EHD, Keychain will prompt you with the PW. You are absolutely right in saying that Apple offers the choice to store the PW in Keychain; but I think the defeats the purpose.

    This goes further than encryption. For example, if one uses a Password Manager, say 1PW, the owner only has to remember that one PW to unlock the PW manager where all the PWs, licences, card details etc are stored. Apple does offer the owner the chance to store this in Keychain. Again, mad. That unique PW should be written down and stored safely away somewhere.

    If you use File Vault, I "think" Apple offers you the chance to store that in Keychain (I don't use FV, so can't be certain), but if I'm correct, then that too is insane.

    I accept your point that your encrypted data is on an EHD separate from the Mac, but an enterprising thief with time on their hands, finds the EHD, attaches it to the Mac where Keychain obliges him with the encryption PW.

    Please don't be offended. My simple point is that one must have very good reason to encrypt data on the Mac or on an EHD. Why leave a "potential" loophole by storing the PW in Keychain. Keep it separate and your security is enhanced.

    Ian
    Ian

  14. #14
    Ian,
    I'm not offended in the slightest.
    There is a bit more to this story:
    I remember now when I first set this up, and that was back in 2002 looking at the date of the files, I initially set it up on my main hard drive with keychain enabled and when testing it found that by just double clicking on the encrypted volume, the volume mounted.
    That wasn't what I wanted, so I went back and recreated the encrypted volumes without selecting keychain which then required me to enter the pass phrase to mount each volume.
    I did about 8 volumes like that over the span of a year and used the same four words in the passphrase but in different combinations and gave each folder the name consisting of the first letter of the pass phrase.
    Like ABCD, then ACBD, ADBC etc. - you get the idea.
    That way I figured I would only have to remember four words and having the first letter of each word would jog my memory.
    Well, turned out that was so long ago, I only remembered two of the words, which of course didn't help.
    But when I re-encrypted the volumes without the keychain option checked. I must have either forgotten to change one volume or keychain remembered it anyway, so when I found that one pass phrase, by the way I had set up the volume names I could easily recreate all the other pass phrases.
    Like I said - I got lucky - it was actually a fluke that one of the pass phrases was stored in keychain.

    And the reason the volumes were on an external drive was simply to make room on my main drive since I would use the information on the encrypted volumes very seldom.
    That wasn't part of my "security strategy", but in retrospect it helped.

  15. #15
    Un-Encrypting External Firewire hard drive?
    pm-r's Avatar
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    Please don't be offended. My simple point is that one must have very good reason to encrypt data on the Mac or on an EHD. Why leave a "potential" loophole by storing the PW in Keychain. Keep it separate and your security is enhanced.

    Sorry Ian et al, and I'm agreeing with a lot of things krs mentioned here, , but it seems that "password managers" are being oversold and Keychain Access is being underrated here which seems to be quite a common trend.

    I dare say not many have read much of Keychain Access' Help topics and maybe some should have a look a some related topics specifically such as:
    • Store confidential information securely
    • Keep your keychain secure


    And BTW, there's no way my Keychain Access auto unlocks that was mentioned, especially with some of my more secure password set files. And it's easy to create various different keychains, all with different passcodes needed.

    Anyway, just saying, Keychain Access has some great protection capabilits available if users want or need to use them. And no additional charge!!



    - Patrick
    ======

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