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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > encryption? hmmm...

encryption? hmmm...
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Nov 15, 1999, 10:14 PM
 
Ok, how can it be that a Microsoft Word document, supposedly "encrypted" with the Apple File Security software, can still be opened, formatting intact, simply by selecting it from within the "Open" dialog of Word?

I can't believe it would be this easy to get around Apple's encryption, but I've been able to replicate this multiple times. What the hell's the point?? Even if I don't know what type of document I have on my hands, I can still open in a text editor like BBEdit, and read the real text around all the garbage text, just like I'm reading a regular Word document that way.


This sure doesn't sound very secure to me.
     
fgalmich
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Nov 16, 1999, 10:19 AM
 
Are you sure you don't store the password in the Keychain?
     
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Nov 16, 1999, 08:26 PM
 
I did it both ways, with the password in the keychain, and also without doing so. I'm no security expert, but it seems to me it shouldn't be that easy to open an "encrypted" file.
     
Ster
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Nov 16, 1999, 10:09 PM
 
hi,
are you sure you didn't open the file at some point, get a dialog asking to decrypt it, decrypt, and then save it? it DOES NOT automatically re-encrypt.
just a thought off the top of my head, i'll actually try it later,
-ster
     
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Nov 16, 1999, 11:43 PM
 
Ok, I tried it all again just to double-check. I duplicated two existing, non-encrypted docs (one MS Word 98 and one QuarkXPress 4.0). I opened both in BBEdit, and saw the expected garbage text along with some readable text, the same readable text as I'd see if I opened the docs in their respective apps. Then I encrypted them, not adding them to the keychain, which incidentally remained locked the entire time. Then, I dragged each file on top of the BBEdit icon again, which opened the files in the editor, and revealed to me the exact same garbage and readable text. Never did a dialog appear asking me for a password.

I tried this all again to see if I was making some silly mistake, which I don't think I am. I almost hope, though, that someone can prove I am indeed overlooking something really obvious because I sincerely hope that Apple's supposedly strong encryption is not so easy to step around.
     
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Nov 17, 1999, 02:23 PM
 
Just a hunch, but does encryption use an extension? I wonder if the extension is disabled, but the Finder doesn't know that and pretends to encrypt the file. Check the Extensions Manager. If you want to be sure, encrypt a really big file - it should take a noticeable amount of time.

If it was encrypted it would at least take a few seconds longer to decrypt it while opening - I thought it also showed a dialogue while decrypting. (don't have MacOS 9 yet to check myself)
     
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Nov 17, 1999, 06:50 PM
 
I just tried this... it didn't work. MS Word '98 asked me what format it was in so that it could convert it, and when I chose "text" (or any other option), just a bunch of garbled text came up, as expected...

     
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Nov 17, 1999, 09:16 PM
 
Ok, I too am beginning to think there is an extension missing, because I realized that any file that I try to encrypt I cannot decrypt again...after I type in my password, Apple File Security says, "Sorry, an unrecoverable error has occurred. Apple File security must now quit." No error code, though.

This is somewhat of a relief. However it's somewhat annoying too, because if I didn't know any better, I would think the file WAS in fact safely encrypted because the icon still changes to the one with a little key and all, and the error doesn't show up till I try to decrypt the file.

At any rate, does anyone know the extension I might be missing or have damaged somehow? I tried to reinstall just Apple File Security from the CD last night, but I couldn't find it.

[This message has been edited by beverson (edited 11-17-1999).]
     
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Nov 17, 1999, 09:32 PM
 
Security Cert Module
Security Library
Security Manager
Security Policy Module
Security Storage Module

These five extenions are in my System Folder and the Apple Security Program works for me. Hope that helps.
     
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Nov 17, 1999, 09:40 PM
 
hmm...got all those. I suppose they could be corrupted, though not sure how....
     
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Nov 17, 1999, 10:33 PM
 
Beverson
I excerpted this from the helpwithyourmac.com website. Check out the link below if you'd like to read the whole article -- it may address your problem http://www.helpwithyourmac.com/help/Oct2799.html

""
The idea is that keychains provide a repository for all your passwords—encrypted files, Internet passwords, server passwords etc. Then when you log in to your multi-user Mac, the keychains open everything up and you don't have to worry about remembering which password you used to encrypt Aunt Millie's famous peanut butter cookies. I thought this also meant when you logged out, that recipe would again be safe from all prying eyes.

In reality, keychains work this way. When you encrypt a file, you have the option of adding this to your keychain. If your keychains are unlocked the file will automatically be decrypted when you try to access it. Unfortunately, it will also be removed from the keychain as soon as you decrypt it. There's no way to specify that you want the file permanently left in the keychain.
""
     
   
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