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Better back up solutions?
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Dec 15, 2011, 04:06 AM
 
I'm trying to improve my overall back up system, and could really use some advice...

-I've happily used TimeMachine, but I've been told that I should supplement it by backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper. Are there any benefits to using these app's that TimeMachine doesn't provide? If so, what are they?

-If it's NOT advisable use Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper, should I use another app for further back ups?

-I do a lot of sensitive work that requires serious privacy and protection. I'd like to back up using some kind of online service, but only if it could be seriously protected / encrypted. I know iDisk is available, but have also been told that I can use DropBox with some encryption / protection services that would make backing up files on a remote server ultra protected. So, what's the most recommendable route?

-I store a lot of media on external hard drives, and would like to make back ups of those drives. What's the best software to use for scheduled, incremental back ups for external HD to external HD file back ups?

Thanks, guys!
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 05:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
I'm trying to improve my overall back up system, and could really use some advice...

-I've happily used TimeMachine, but I've been told that I should supplement it by backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper. Are there any benefits to using these app's that TimeMachine doesn't provide? If so, what are they?
That you can make a bootable backup and be straight back up after an HD failure.

Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-If it's NOT advisable use Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper, should I use another app for further back ups?
They only guard well against that particular failure. A file corruption that you don't notice directly will not be covered by them, but will be covered by Time Machine.

Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-I store a lot of media on external hard drives, and would like to make back ups of those drives. What's the best software to use for scheduled, incremental back ups for external HD to external HD file back ups?
Time Machine works fine.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 05:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-I've happily used TimeMachine, but I've been told that I should supplement it by backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper. Are there any benefits to using these app's that TimeMachine doesn't provide? If so, what are they?
Using a backup tool other than Time Machine is only useful if you use different hard drives! It doesn't make sense if you only have one backup drive.

Carbon Copy Cloner and Super Duper are not good backup solutions, they only clone your hard drive. That means you only have one copy and if you (either by accident or by some other failure) clone your faulty source drive, your backup is toast. Restoring from a clone and restoring from a Time Machine backup takes a similar amount of time (a few hours depending on the amount of data you have) that there is little benefit if you are already using Time Machine.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-If it's NOT advisable use Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper, should I use another app for further back ups?
There is also Synk which I have used in the past and was very happy.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-I do a lot of sensitive work that requires serious privacy and protection. I'd like to back up using some kind of online service, but only if it could be seriously protected / encrypted.
It depends on your level of paranoia
You can create an encrypted disk image in your Dropbox, for instance (Dropbox can access all your files if it wants to). There are similar services out there (e. g. Wuala) that feature client-side encryption, meaning that not even the provider can access your data. Note that all these services encrypt the file transfer, but not all of them store encrypted files.

Another note: OS X allows you to encrypt your filesystem, read the internal hard drive of your Mac. Since you mention privacy and protection, perhaps that's of interest to you? You can enable it in the System Preferences > Security > File Vault.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-I store a lot of media on external hard drives, and would like to make back ups of those drives. What's the best software to use for scheduled, incremental back ups for external HD to external HD file back ups?
That depends on the amount and importance of the data. So how much do you want to backup. It's important that you split the amount into categories of importance, e. g. my photos are more important to me than my movies I've bought on iTunes.
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Dec 15, 2011, 01:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-I do a lot of sensitive work that requires serious privacy and protection. I'd like to back up using some kind of online service, but only if it could be seriously protected / encrypted. I know iDisk is available, but have also been told that I can use DropBox with some encryption / protection services that would make backing up files on a remote server ultra protected. So, what's the most recommendable route?
Two solutions:

Free / open-source / multi-platform: TrueCrypt - Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux

OS X solution, nice GUI, runs in background: Tao Effect :: Espionage :: Secure Folder Encryption for Mac OS X
(The author of Espionage is a member at MacNN.)

-t
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 04:58 PM
 
Thank you for all of your replies! Wow. Ok, so a few more follow up questions...

-P wrote, re: the benefits of backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper are...
That you can make a bootable backup and be straight back up after an HD failure.
Ok, but how is that any different / better than just hooking up an external HD that has been saving TimeMachine sessions?

-P wrote, re: the best software to use for scheduled, incremental back ups for external HD to external HD file back ups...
Time Machine works fine.
Really!? How?

-OreoCookie wrote...
Using a backup tool other than Time Machine is only useful if you use different hard drives! It doesn't make sense if you only have one backup drive.
Well, I actually use two different hard drives to back up via TimeMachine - one for regular back up, and one for one a week back up (in case the regular drive dies). But I'm happy to back up onto another drive using SuperDuper or some other software - IF there's notable advantage to having a clone / bootable backup that's different than what TimeMachine already provides (and if that's really desirable).

-IF I should consider having a clone / bootable backup that's different than what TimeMachine already provides, what software is recommendable?

-Re: remote, encrypted storage, OreoCookie wrote:
You can create an encrypted disk image in your Dropbox, for instance (Dropbox can access all your files if it wants to). There are similar services out there (e. g. Wuala) that feature client-side encryption, meaning that not even the provider can access your data. Note that all these services encrypt the file transfer, but not all of them store encrypted files.
And turtle777 writes:
Free / open-source / multi-platform: TrueCrypt - Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux
OS X solution, nice GUI, runs in background: Tao Effect :: Espionage :: Secure Folder Encryption for Mac OS X
(The author of Espionage is a member at MacNN.)
This is amazing! But it's not clear to me which service would be best / most desirable for doing regular back ups, and ensuring that they're very well protected / encrypted. How would Wuala be different than iDisk? I actually use an encrypted disk image to contain my documents, but I would have to locate other files (e.g., Mail files) to designate them for remote, encrypted storage. I don't really know how to use DropBox to do this. Naturally, I'd prefer a free option for this, but want to use a system / application that provide the best security and fail-safe back up -- that's the most important priority!
Any further insight / suggestions...? Would appreciate whatever sage advice...

-OreoCookie wrote:
Another note: OS X allows you to encrypt your filesystem, read the internal hard drive of your Mac. Since you mention privacy and protection, perhaps that's of interest to you? You can enable it in the System Preferences > Security > File Vault.
Yeah, I know, but every Mac tech support person I've talk do strongly discourages me to use FileVault because, they say, it clogs up the computer function...

Thanks for everyone's help!
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 05:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
This is amazing! But it's not clear to me which service would be best / most desirable for doing regular back ups, and ensuring that they're very well protected / encrypted. How would Wuala be different than iDisk? I actually use an encrypted disk image to contain my documents, but I would have to locate other files (e.g., Mail files) to designate them for remote, encrypted storage. I don't really know how to use DropBox to do this. Naturally, I'd prefer a free option for this, but want to use a system / application that provide the best security and fail-safe back up -- that's the most important priority!
Any further insight / suggestions...? Would appreciate whatever sage advice...
The problem is, encryption/safety and backup are two complex issues for itself, but trying to marry those two up gets really hairy.

In terms of what you want to do, you need to consider that any encryption based on an encrypted file storage container (both TrueCrypt and Espionage) can only be backed up once the container is "closed".
After that, backup is really up to whatever remote space you have, and how to access it.

When it comes to ecnrypting system level files (e.g. Mail files), only Espionage supports this (to my knwoledge). I haven't used that funactionality, so I can't say anything about it.

-t
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:05 PM
 
I see what you mean. Thanks for the clarification on that. One of the first hurdles seems to be figuring out how to back up an "open" storage container... As I said, right now I just store files within password protected file image. So, is there a systemic approach or app that would enable me to both encrypt file storage and regularly back it up on a remote, protected (encrypted) storage? (I'm guessing that I would need to first nail that down before dabbling in something like Espionage.) If so, what's the best route to take?

Also, what's the best solution for just scheduled, incremental back ups for external HD to external HD file back ups? Someone said I could do it w/ TimeMachine, but I don't quite see how that's possible.

And are there any notable advantages to having a clone / bootable backup (e.g., via SuperDuper) that's different than what TimeMachine already provides?

Thanks!
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:06 PM
 
I think my rule of thumb is do not backup to a web service such as Dropbox if you would be putting yourself in serious legal risk if somebody were to somehow access your data. The odds of somebody intercepting data destined for Dropbox/Amazon S3 is slim, but you know nothing about the physical and in-house security offered by these companies.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
...right now I just store files within password protected file image. So, is there a systemic approach or app that would enable me to both encrypt file storage and regularly back it up on a remote, protected (encrypted) storage?
Just dump that image into DropBox and you're done. The image is safe in the cloud, protected from hard drive failure and prying eyes.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:24 PM
 
Really!? What about what besson3c just wrote? That is...

I think my rule of thumb is do not backup to a web service such as Dropbox if you would be putting yourself in serious legal risk if somebody were to somehow access your data. The odds of somebody intercepting data destined for Dropbox/Amazon S3 is slim, but you know nothing about the physical and in-house security offered by these companies.
Apart from that, is there a way to run such back ups w/ DropBox so that they are stored automatically and incrementally?
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:26 PM
 
Besson's advice is sound. But an encrypted disk image is...encrypted. So it's useless to anyone without the password. And while you can backup your DropBox files, it's not really necessary because they are already stored automatically and incrementally.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 07:29 PM
 
Yeah, an encrypted disk image would be fine in theory, I was speaking of just loose files.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:32 PM
 
Ok, gotcha. Thanks, guys... I assume I'd have to periodically, manually dump the encrypted disk image into DropBox, correct?

A few more questions:

-Would I have to "close" this disk image (which I'm guessing means "ejecting" it) in order to back it up via DropBox or any other back up web service? Sorry, but I want to be totally clear on this point.

-Re: my previous question, is there so way to have automatic back ups w/ DropBox so that I don't have to manually dump the encrypted disk image into DropBox?

-What would be the advantage of using something like iDisk or Wuala versus this back up process w/ DropBox?

Thanks!
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:35 PM
 
DropBox works automatically. The version on their server will always exactly mirror the version on your computer as long as there is an internet connection (if you have no connection it automatically syncs the next time it connects). I don't think it works with open files, though, so I do my work and then I eject the image.

As for iDisk...it is no more so forget that option. I am not familiar with Wuala.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:43 PM
 
[QUOTE=chabig;4136575]
DropBox works automatically. The version on their server will always exactly mirror the version on your computer as long as there is an internet connection (if you have no connection it automatically syncs the next time it connects).
Gotcha. Would that mean that I would have to have my disk images permanently stored on DropBox? Right now I have them stored locally - within my Mac HD. Is there some way to replicate the disk images so that I could have them both stored locally and the server?

I don't think it works with open files, though, so I do my work and then I eject the image.
Shoot. That's a problem. I continuously have the images open when I'm working on my documents... Is there any solution or other way around that...?

As for iDisk...it is no more so forget that option. I am not familiar with Wuala.
Ok, thanks. My sense is that Wuala is a more secure automatic web back up system (and it's paid service). Does anyone know more about this?
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:45 PM
 
You files remain locally on your hard drive. DropBox just syncs them with the cloud. Whether it works with open files or not I don't know. Check out their website.
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:50 PM
 
Ok, thanks! I'll check it out!

Anyone know of any other ways to boost more security for these already encrypted disk images (if that's necessary or helpful)?

And does anyone know what protection and back up advantages that Wuala (or another comparable service) would have over this approach w/ DropBox?

Thanks!
     
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Dec 15, 2011, 08:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Anyone know of any other ways to boost more security for these already encrypted disk images (if that's necessary or helpful)?
Once it is encrypted there is nothing more you can do.

Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
And does anyone know what protection and back up advantages that Wuala (or another comparable service) would have over this approach w/ DropBox?
See this.
     
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Dec 16, 2011, 05:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-P wrote, re: the benefits of backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper are...
Ok, but how is that any different / better than just hooking up an external HD that has been saving TimeMachine sessions?
No, it's worse, because as I explained, you do not keep multiple copies. And if you make a backup of a corrupted system, your backup is hosed and of no help.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Well, I actually use two different hard drives to back up via TimeMachine - one for regular back up, and one for one a week back up (in case the regular drive dies).
I would just keep your current setup. Time Machine works very well and is superior to software that merely clones volumes (unless you just want to clone something, but even then, I'd use Disk Utility which is free).
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-IF I should consider having a clone / bootable backup that's different than what TimeMachine already provides, what software is recommendable?
You can use Disk Utility (located in /Applications/Utilities) which is included in every OS X install.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
I don't really know how to use DropBox to do this.
All you need to do is move the encrypted disk image into the DropBox folder. That's all, there is no step 2
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Yeah, I know, but every Mac tech support person I've talk do strongly discourages me to use FileVault because, they say, it clogs up the computer function...
These people are used to File Vault the way it was implemented in earlier versions of OS X. Back then, OS X created an encrypted Disk Image and stored all your files there. The problem was that hardware problems, for instance, could hose your disk image. The current version of File Vault offers file-level encryption.

Of course, there is some performance hit (about 25 % when reading/writing large files, for operations on smaller files it's less than 10 %), but you won't notice it in normal operations. If you are that interested in keeping your data safe, I'd definitely enable it if I were you. Plus, it is completely transparent to the OS and all applications.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Gotcha. Would that mean that I would have to have my disk images permanently stored on DropBox?
Dropbox is just a folder on your hard drive that is monitored by Dropbox, there is nothing to eject (as was the case with iDisk), it just works. Plus, it's cross-platform and keeps backups of your files (you can restore older versions of your files via the web interface). You don't need to do anything. But I would just store files, not Disk Images of files.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Shoot. That's a problem. I continuously have the images open when I'm working on my documents... Is there any solution or other way around that...?
I haven't noticed that Dropbox can't sync open files, quite the contrary: every time I save (mostly text documents and code), I see Dropbox updating my files in the cloud.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Ok, thanks. My sense is that Wuala is a more secure automatic web back up system (and it's paid service). Does anyone know more about this?
No, I'm a heavy Dropbox user and I love it. But since I don't store sensitive information on it, I don't care whether in theory, someone from Dropbox can access my files. If you store your files in encrypted disk images, I see no advantage in using Wuala.
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Dec 16, 2011, 07:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
-P wrote, re: the benefits of backing up with Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper are...
Ok, but how is that any different / better than just hooking up an external HD that has been saving TimeMachine sessions?
You cannot boot a computer from a Time Machine session.

You must re-install the system, and then restore from the Time Machine backup. This can take hours.

Cloning makes sense as a fall-back when you do not have the time to restore—say, you're on a production computer, and you charge clients by the hour. Three hours of downtime can be hundreds of dollars and a lost client (and all his future work).

Or you're running a production system for a live performance, and the thing goes on the fritz during sound check at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at eight.

So you hook up (or install) the cloned drive and run from that.

As mentioned, it's not a sound backup strategy at all, but it can be crucial in certain situations.
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 03:47 AM
 
]No, it's worse, because as I explained, you do not keep multiple copies. And if you make a backup of a corrupted system, your backup is hosed and of no help.
Ok, gotcha. So, bottom line: forgo SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, yes? But what about using one of those apps (or another) to do external hard drive to external drive back ups?

I would just keep your current setup. Time Machine works very well and is superior to software that merely clones volumes (unless you just want to clone something, but even then, I'd use Disk Utility which is free).
Would you recommend cloning a back up via Disk Utility at all or do you think it's essentially unnecessary. And do you think think there's any way to improve upon the TimeMachine setup that I currently have? - That is, regularly backing up on one disk, and then once a week on another. Any other suggested improvements?

All you need to do is move the encrypted disk image into the DropBox folder. That's all, there is no step 2
Great! Thanks! But let me ask you this... Is there any other level of security that you'd recommend that I use in conjunction with an encrypted disk image? What about using something like TrueCrypt or some other app?

These people are used to File Vault the way it was implemented in earlier versions of OS X. Back then, OS X created an encrypted Disk Image and stored all your files there. The problem was that hardware problems, for instance, could hose your disk image. The current version of File Vault offers file-level encryption.
Of course, there is some performance hit (about 25 % when reading/writing large files, for operations on smaller files it's less than 10 %), but you won't notice it in normal operations. If you are that interested in keeping your data safe, I'd definitely enable it if I were you. Plus, it is completely transparent to the OS and all applications.
Good to know, thanks! To be honest with you, the performance issues, and a (perhaps irrational fear) that my data would somehow be more susceptible to corruption was the main thing that kept me reluctant to set it up. Do you use it? Do you feel that it's genuinely reliable, helpful with adding more security, and won't some corrupt my HD or tie tie in knots...?

Dropbox is just a folder on your hard drive that is monitored by Dropbox, there is nothing to eject (as was the case with iDisk), it just works. Plus, it's cross-platform and keeps backups of your files (you can restore older versions of your files via the web interface). You don't need to do anything. But I would just store files, not Disk Images of files.
Well...hmmm... Ok, I was just about to sign onto using it, but then I read your last sentence: "...I would just store files, not Disk Images of files." The only way I'd feel comfortable using it would be solely to save encrypted disk images. That might seem a bit extreme, but I want to be uber-careful about my data.

No, I'm a heavy Dropbox user and I love it. But since I don't store sensitive information on it, I don't care whether in theory, someone from Dropbox can access my files. If you store your files in encrypted disk images, I see no advantage in using Wuala.
Gotcha. Well...Wuala doesn't seem to be the way to go, however...I'm still trying to see if / how I can best create an uber-protected back up file (or disk image) system for DropBox.

Thank you so much for all of your help... You've been esp. helpful, and I greatly appreciate it.
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 08:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Besson's advice is sound. But an encrypted disk image is...encrypted. So it's useless to anyone without the password. And while you can backup your DropBox files, it's not really necessary because they are already stored automatically and incrementally.
ALL encryption can be defeated...but the bigger threat is negligence or the insider at the backup company so the recommendation to encrypt everything on your end (e.g. 256 bit AES .dmg) prior to uploading is great advice.

I really wish Apple would remove FileVault and replace it with something more like BitLocker which prevents unauthorized people from booting your computer and is less prone to corruption or problems affecting everything in your home folder.
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 08:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Ok, gotcha. So, bottom line: forgo SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, yes?
In your situation, yes.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
But what about using one of those apps (or another) to do external hard drive to external drive back ups?
It's better to simply do two independent backups in my opinion.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Would you recommend cloning a back up via Disk Utility at all or do you think it's essentially unnecessary.
No, I'm saying that whenever I want to clone (e. g. when I replace an internal hard drive by something bigger), I use Disk Utility to do that.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
And do you think think there's any way to improve upon the TimeMachine setup that I currently have? - That is, regularly backing up on one disk, and then once a week on another. Any other suggested improvements?
I have two Time Machine disks, one is at home, one at work. This means even if my home or my office gets robbed, I still have another hard drive. And when something really catastrophic happens which causes the destruction of both backups, I reckon I'll have more serious problems at hand than missing data (zombies, nuclear winter ).
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Great! Thanks! But let me ask you this... Is there any other level of security that you'd recommend that I use in conjunction with an encrypted disk image?
No, I don't think it's necessary. And each level of complexity puts your data at risk stemming from user error.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Good to know, thanks! To be honest with you, the performance issues, and a (perhaps irrational fear) that my data would somehow be more susceptible to corruption was the main thing that kept me reluctant to set it up.
You will not notice a performance impact under normal circumstances. And encrypted disk images are much more prone to data corruption: if there is corruption, your whole disk image is toast. Whereas with File Vault under 10.7, only individual files are rendered unreadable -- just as if they were unencrypted.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Do you use it?
No, my hard drive doesn't have enough space to encrypt everything.
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Dec 19, 2011, 09:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I really wish Apple would remove FileVault and replace it with something more like BitLocker which prevents unauthorized people from booting your computer and is less prone to corruption or problems affecting everything in your home folder.
They did...in Lion.
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 09:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
ALL encryption can be defeated...
While this is true, if attempts to decrypt something take unreasonably long times (the age of the universe, for instance), then the encryption algorithm is safe. In almost all cases, the weak link are people who use stickies, for instance, to write down important passwords or mail root passwords in clear-text e-mails.

AES (especially 256 bit AES) is for all intents and purposes uncrackable as of now.
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
but the bigger threat is negligence or the insider at the backup company so the recommendation to encrypt everything on your end (e.g. 256 bit AES .dmg) prior to uploading is great advice.
All Dropbox-like services I'm aware of encrypt the transmission of data (akin to using https instead of http), but the crucial question is whether the storage service can access your files. To me, that's a clear »it depends« question: for some data, e. g. new research papers that are in preparation, I don't care that Dropbox can access them. But I wouldn't necessarily put my bank details on my Dropbox.
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I really wish Apple would remove FileVault and replace it with something more like BitLocker which prevents unauthorized people from booting your computer and is less prone to corruption or problems affecting everything in your home folder.
The new version of FileVault introduced with 10.7 offers transparent file-level encryption just like BitLocker. FileVault earned its not-so-stellar reputation with previous incarnations, though.
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Dec 19, 2011, 02:28 PM
 
It's better to simply do two independent backups in my opinion.
You lost me here... Can you just clarify what you're suggesting? Just to explain my situation again: I store files on external HD's, and want to periodically back up those files onto another drive. So, I'm asking which back up app would be best suited for that task. Thanks!

I have two Time Machine disks, one is at home, one at work. This means even if my home or my office gets robbed, I still have another hard drive. And when something really catastrophic happens which causes the destruction of both backups, I reckon I'll have more serious problems at hand than missing data (zombies, nuclear winter ).
Ha! Well...my situation is that I work at a home office, so if there's a fire here... You get the picture. When I travel, I bring my b/u drive, and keep my secondary b/u drive at home. Hence my question about having another uber-secure, dependable web / online based back up system.

No, I don't think it's necessary. And each level of complexity puts your data at risk stemming from user error.
Hmmn... Well, the thing is...on the one hand you've recommended that I use DropBox for a back ups, but you've also suggested that you'd be hesitant to use DropBox to back up file images and very sensitive files. So...that's why I'm inclined to back up encrypted disk images with something like TrueCrypt. I was considering some of the suggestions in this article: How To Add a Second Layer of Encryption to Dropbox [Updated]

You will not notice a performance impact under normal circumstances. And encrypted disk images are much more prone to data corruption: if there is corruption, your whole disk image is toast. Whereas with File Vault under 10.7, only individual files are rendered unreadable -- just as if they were unencrypted.
Great. Thanks for the clarification on that... Is there anything you'd recommend that I do before I start up FileVault just to prevent against and performance / corruption issues?

Thank you again for your incredibly helpful input...
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 03:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
AES (especially 256 bit AES) is for all intents and purposes uncrackable as of now.

... DELETED ...

The new version of FileVault introduced with 10.7 offers transparent file-level encryption just like BitLocker. FileVault earned its not-so-stellar reputation with previous incarnations, though.
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Dec 19, 2011, 03:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
You lost me here... Can you just clarify what you're suggesting? Just to explain my situation again: I store files on external HD's, and want to periodically back up those files onto another drive.
I'm confused: I thought you wanted to backup onto two drives rather than just one (which is a good idea). If you only want to use one hard drive for backups, all you need is Time Machine.

If you want a second to have two backup drives -- which your earlier posts and the paragraph below suggest, just use Time Machine for both backup drives, no other piece of software. (You need to write a little script to automate switching from one backup drive to another, though.) I would not clone the Time Machine drive to another hard drive in regular intervals. Clear enough?
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Ha! Well...my situation is that I work at a home office, so if there's a fire here... You get the picture.
Then store it someplace else, at your parents' home or something like that.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Hmmn... Well, the thing is...on the one hand you've recommended that I use DropBox for a back ups, but you've also suggested that you'd be hesitant to use DropBox to back up file images and very sensitive files.
I asked you in the beginning of the thread to detail how much data you need to back up and split up the total amount into categories of importance and sensitivity. I think you're mixing up a lot of suggestions that are really reflecting separate aspects.

So just to give you an idea, here is my setup:
(1) I use Time Machine to backup my internal hard drive.
(2) I use Dropbox to store active projects and things like travel information. Since I'm a scientist, none of these documents are particularly sensitive. Dropbox has incremental updates built into it and I can access my files from any computer with internet access and a browser.
(3) I use a second external hard drive to store movies and TV shows I've bought from the iTunes store.
(4) I have a small 300 GB 2.5" drive which I can use in case my internal hard drive craps out.

This way, I have at least two-fold redundancy on all of my information, three-fold in case of active projects. Even better: when I travel, I don't take my backup drives with me. However, all my work is continuously backed up and even if something goes wrong, I can still restore my data from a backup and then sync the reinstalled Mac with Dropbox to bring my work files up to date.


So perhaps you can use Dropbox for non-sensitive/less sensitive files without having to deal with an encrypted disk image for all files.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Is there anything you'd recommend that I do before I start up FileVault just to prevent against and performance / corruption issues?
You don't understand: the type of corruption I'm thinking of has nothing to do with encryption, but mostly with hardware: every once in a while a block on your hard drive may become unreadable (shit happens). Then no matter whether or not you have encrypted the file, the file becomes corrupted. Since you have backups, this is typically not such a big deal, though.
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Dec 19, 2011, 05:48 PM
 
I'm confused: I thought you wanted to backup onto two drives rather than just one (which is a good idea). If you only want to use one hard drive for backups, all you need is Time Machine.

If you want a second to have two backup drives -- which your earlier posts and the paragraph below suggest, just use Time Machine for both backup drives, no other piece of software. (You need to write a little script to automate switching from one backup drive to another, though.) I would not clone the Time Machine drive to another hard drive in regular intervals. Clear enough?
To clarify, I do back up onto two drive via TimeMachine. I have one dedicated drive for regular (hourly) TimeMachine back ups, and another HD that I use w/ TimeMachine once a week.

I also have have separate external HD's where I store excess media (e.g., media files). I'm looking for an app or approach that will enable me to back up these separate external HD's - i.e., backing up external HD to external HD. I thought that I could use something like SuperDuper for these back ups. What do you think?

Then store it someplace else, at your parents' home or something like that.
Not really a viable option. I work as an international investigative reporter - I have a home office, travel often, and don't shuttle to a safe alternate location in which to store such HDs. But I'm thinking about other alternatives (apart from some of the web-based solutions we've discussed).

I asked you in the beginning of the thread to detail how much data you need to back up and split up the total amount into categories of importance and sensitivity. I think you're mixing up a lot of suggestions that are really reflecting separate aspects.

So just to give you an idea, here is my setup:
(1) I use Time Machine to backup my internal hard drive.
(2) I use Dropbox to store active projects and things like travel information. Since I'm a scientist, none of these documents are particularly sensitive. Dropbox has incremental updates built into it and I can access my files from any computer with internet access and a browser.
(3) I use a second external hard drive to store movies and TV shows I've bought from the iTunes store.
(4) I have a small 300 GB 2.5" drive which I can use in case my internal hard drive craps out.

This way, I have at least two-fold redundancy on all of my information, three-fold in case of active projects. Even better: when I travel, I don't take my backup drives with me. However, all my work is continuously backed up and even if something goes wrong, I can still restore my data from a backup and then sync the reinstalled Mac with Dropbox to bring my work files up to date.
So perhaps you can use Dropbox for non-sensitive/less sensitive files without having to deal with an encrypted disk image for all files.
Thank you for detailing this. I've spelled out how I use my disks for TimeMachine: I use two drives, one dedicated drive for regular (hourly) TimeMachine back ups, and another HD that I use for TimeMachine b/u's once a week. And I also have separate external HD's where for excess media (e.g., media files), and trying to back up these separate external HD's - i.e., backing up external HD to external HD.

Because my work is highly mobile, and I have very sensitive data for my work, I'm seeking some other kind of back up solution for backing up flies. That's why I though that using encrypted disk images with something like Wuala or DropBox (perhaps with TrueCrypt) might offer a solution. To be clear, I'm specifically looking for a way to back up sensitive files. If I was just looking for a way to back up superfluous files, I wouldn't be posting this query in the first place. Alsmost all of my files contain sensitive info, so either find a uber-secure, dependable web / online based back up system or...I determine that it's an undesirable option, based on feedback here, and decide to forgo it all together.

So, I'm trying to first determine IF there is a good web / online system for my purposes (i.e., safely and dependably back up sensitive files). And IF there is, what the best approach is to achieve this - and really ensure the protection and safety of these files!

You don't understand: the type of corruption I'm thinking of has nothing to do with encryption, but mostly with hardware: every once in a while a block on your hard drive may become unreadable (shit happens). Then no matter whether or not you have encrypted the file, the file becomes corrupted. Since you have backups, this is typically not such a big deal, though.
Gotcha. Thanks very much for the clarification, and for all of your tremendous help!
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 07:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
To clarify, I do back up onto two drive via TimeMachine. I have one dedicated drive for regular (hourly) TimeMachine back ups, and another HD that I use w/ TimeMachine once a week.
Ok, now I think we're getting on the same page.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
I also have have separate external HD's where I store excess media (e.g., media files). I'm looking for an app or approach that will enable me to back up these separate external HD's - i.e., backing up external HD to external HD. I thought that I could use something like SuperDuper for these back ups. What do you think?
I think you should look into software like Synk or Retrospect instead. They're real backup tools (i. e. they offer incremental backups, allowing you to keep several versions), not just pieces of software that clone volumes. Retrospect is more powerful (including encryption of your backups), although I haven't used it in 7 or 8 years.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
I work as an international investigative reporter -
That's a pretty cool job description
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
But I'm thinking about other alternatives (apart from some of the web-based solutions we've discussed).
Ok, now I think I see where you're coming from.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
That's why I though that using encrypted disk images with something like Wuala or DropBox (perhaps with TrueCrypt) might offer a solution.
Yes, I think it would: if you are going to store your files in an encrypted disk image anyway, I think it's easiest to use Dropbox: it allows you to selectively share folders with other and put things in a Public folder (great for oversized e-mail attachments). On your computer, it appears to be just another folder. As long as you have internet, all your computers will be in sync (which is really great, you can start working on one machine at work, go home, let it sync and continue where you've left off). And you can access everything via a web interface if you want to.

I recommend you just try it with some expendable data and once you get the hang of it (there is not much to get, really), just move your encrypted disk image into your Dropbox folder. There is no step 3.

Even if someone is able to get to your files, without knowing the password, they're just a useless blob of bits.
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Dec 19, 2011, 09:16 PM
 
I think you should look into software like Synk or Retrospect instead. They're real backup tools (i. e. they offer incremental backups, allowing you to keep several versions), not just pieces of software that clone volumes. Retrospect is more powerful (including encryption of your backups), although I haven't used it in 7 or 8 years.
Ok, great! Thanks so much for your help with that... I actually thought there were other free apps that did scheduled, incremental back ups.

By the way, I checked out Retrospect, and this is what's on their webpage: "Back up to and restore from offsite cloud storage. Use powerful filtering rules to allow complete local backups, while ensuring only critical data gets copied to the cloud." Could this be another solution in lieu of DropBox...?

Yes, I think it would: if you are going to store your files in an encrypted disk image anyway, I think it's easiest to use Dropbox: it allows you to selectively share folders with other and put things in a Public folder (great for oversized e-mail attachments). On your computer, it appears to be just another folder. As long as you have internet, all your computers will be in sync (which is really great, you can start working on one machine at work, go home, let it sync and continue where you've left off). And you can access everything via a web interface if you want to.
Ok, great. So the point is to use some sort of "private folder" in DropBox to store sensitive back up data? Is that right? And given my particularly situation, would you recommend that I use TrueCrypt with encrypted disk images? Thanks...

I recommend you just try it with some expendable data and once you get the hang of it (there is not much to get, really), just move your encrypted disk image into your Dropbox folder. There is no step 3.
Good idea... Once you answer the above question, I'll start putting things in motion...

Even if someone is able to get to your files, without knowing the password, they're just a useless blob of bits.
I sure hope you're right!
     
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Dec 20, 2011, 04:10 AM
 
Actually, I just realized that:

(a) This is the article on improved DropBox security that I meant to include: How To Add a Second Layer of Encryption to Dropbox [Updated] What do you think?

and...

(b) An embarrassing confession: I just realized the 2 GB cap on DropBox...unless I want to "upgrade" to the 50 GB option (which seems excessive). I've seen how one can boost the storage size through referrals, but are those the only two options - referrals and pay for a ton of storage space that I don't need?? Any other suggestions on that front...?

Thanks!
     
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Dec 20, 2011, 04:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
What do you think?
What do YOU think?
     
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Dec 20, 2011, 05:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Ok, great! Thanks so much for your help with that... I actually thought there were other free apps that did scheduled, incremental back ups.
Nothing that is easy to use. There are some command-line utilities, but unless you are very comfortable with the Terminal and the Unix underpinnings of OS X, I wouldn't trust it as a backup. (Not because these tools are not reliable, but that they take skill to be operated reliably.)
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
By the way, I checked out Retrospect, and this is what's on their webpage: "Back up to and restore from offsite cloud storage. Use powerful filtering rules to allow complete local backups, while ensuring only critical data gets copied to the cloud." Could this be another solution in lieu of DropBox...?
Yes and no: you see, you need to get Cloud storage somehow akin to Amazon S3 or so. If you're willing to pay for that, then yes, it is a solution.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Ok, great. So the point is to use some sort of "private folder" in DropBox to store sensitive back up data? Is that right?
No. All folders with the exception of the Public folder cannot be linked to online. If you put a file within the Public folder, you can send a link of the form http://dl.dropbox.com/u/number/filename to others so that they can download the file.

All other folders are private and cannot be linked to. You can share them with other Dropbox customers if you wish. You can set permissions (e. g. give people only read, but not write permissions). It basically works like a network share that is synced over the internet.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
And given my particularly situation, would you recommend that I use TrueCrypt with encrypted disk images?
No, you should not use both, encrypted disk images and TrueCrypt.

Volume-leven encryption TrueCrypt works just like File Vault in Lion, but is much less integrated. I recommend you don't use it. Plus, the data on your Dropbox (or whatever other service you use) will not be encrypted.

If you create virtual encrypted disks, then you're just creating an encrypted disk image using other tools. But since TrueCrypt is not a Mac-centric tool, it will not be integrated as well with OS X. On the other hand, it is cross-platform compatible.

I would use File Vault for your hard drive and if you don't collaborate with someone who uses Windows (poor soul), I'd just stick to encrypted disk images that you put in your Dropbox.
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Dec 20, 2011, 05:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
(a) This is the article on improved DropBox security that I meant to include: How To Add a Second Layer of Encryption to Dropbox [Updated] What do you think?
The important paragraph, I think, is this one (emphasis mine):
Originally Posted by lifehacker.com
If you want encrypt everything in your Dropbox folder locally, you can just move the Dropbox folder into a TrueCrypt container. As readers pointed out, this won't address the privacy concerns of Dropbox being able to decrypt your information, but it would secure the contents of your Dropbox in case, say, you lost your laptop or your computer was compromised.
I suppose you were thinking of this solution, but it won't address the concerns you have with storing unencrypted information on third-party servers. Nor will it be necessary if you use File Vault.
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
(b) An embarrassing confession: I just realized the 2 GB cap on DropBox...unless I want to "upgrade" to the 50 GB option (which seems excessive). I've seen how one can boost the storage size through referrals, but are those the only two options - referrals and pay for a ton of storage space that I don't need??
The amount of storage you can get by referrals is capped at, I think, 8 GB. But that means you have to invite plenty of people to get to that size. If you need more than 2 GB, I'd just pay for the service and be done with it.
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Dec 26, 2011, 07:33 PM
 
I just wanted to thank you very much for all of your support. You've helped me out a great deal, and I greatly appreciate it. I'll try using Retrospect for ext. HD->ext. HD bak ups, and will buy the larger DropBox account in order to use it for backing up encrypted files. Is there anything else you'd recommend? Thanks again - I really appreciate it.
     
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Jan 4, 2012, 08:41 PM
 
OreoCookie - thanks for the info on having 2 time machine backup disks. I didn't realise that TM did that and so my second (offsite) backup was always done with CCC. I'll try it this weekend.

jprint714 - try googling "amazon lost files" and "dropbox lost files" before you commit to using cloud services. IMO nothing replaces a basic 2 disk backup system.

my 2 cents....
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Jan 5, 2012, 07:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by simonjames View Post
OreoCookie - thanks for the info on having 2 time machine backup disks. I didn't realise that TM did that and so my second (offsite) backup was always done with CCC.
Out of the box, you have to switch backup volumes manually, but instead, you should use a combination of Do Something When and an Apple Script (make sure to adjust the names of the volumes properly).

You basically use Do Something When to launch the script whenever you connect either one of your backup drives. Note that you should not connect both backup drives at the same time. I initially had a problem to get the script to run, but that was because I had too many preferences files. I can help you with the debugging if you run into any issues.
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Jan 5, 2012, 12:42 PM
 
This looks great. I just set up an iCal alert to tell me to switch disks (once a week) and open the TimeMachine preferences so that it puts the disk switch front and center. What does this set up that's particularly different? Just curious... Thanks for your input!
     
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Jan 10, 2012, 05:22 AM
 
I want back up my data, but after read all of this, it is a little complicated to me...
     
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Jan 10, 2012, 05:50 AM
 
It's not complicated for the average user: get an external hard drive that has a sufficient amount of storage (as a rule of thumb: it should have at least twice the capacity of the drive you're backing up) and connect it to your Mac. Launch the System Preferences and select Time Machine. Choose the new external hard drive as backup volume and then start your first backup. This will probably take some time, but subsequent backups are much, much faster.

The solution in this thread is so complicated, because the OP is not an average user. He has specific needs and concerns that warrant a more complicated solution.
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Jan 10, 2012, 05:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by skyrim View Post
I want back up my data, but after read all of this, it is a little complicated to me...
It's not. If you don't have special concerns (such as needing to be able be straight back up after a crash), just run Time Machine.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 12:47 AM
 
Hi again,

Well, I've set up much of what you suggested, and then I made an unfortunate discovery. I often travel to places where there is no internet, and therefore it doesn't make sense to save my encrypted disk image on DropBox to back things up. In other words, when I'm stuck in a place w/o an internet connection (and therefore w/o access to DropBox), and I save my encrypted disk image on DropBox...then I would have no way to open my local files! So, is there another solution, like instead of storing the disk image on DropBox, I keep it where it is and somehow have replicant copy stored on DropBox? Any suggestions? Thanks!
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 02:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
In other words, when I'm stuck in a place w/o an internet connection (and therefore w/o access to DropBox), and I save my encrypted disk image on DropBox...then I would have no way to open my local files!
Of course you do. The Dropbox files on your local hard drive are normal files. Use them normally. Dropbox simply keeps a separate (synchronized) copy in the cloud.
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 04:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
I work as an international investigative reporter
You are fooling yourself if you think that your information can remain protected.
If a government or powerful NGO wants your data they will get it.

Most international hotels, for example, are infiltrated with intelligence agents, and have hidden bugs and cameras in many of the rooms. The moment you turn on your laptop it is essentially an open book.
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 09:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
You are fooling yourself if you think that your information can remain protected.
If a government or powerful NGO wants your data they will get it.

Most international hotels, for example, are infiltrated with intelligence agents, and have hidden bugs and cameras in many of the rooms. The moment you turn on your laptop it is essentially an open book.

That's rather tinfoil hatty.
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 09:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
That's rather tinfoil hatty.
Not really.

I guess my point is that encrypting your backups is only one small piece of your security picture.
There are many other ways that your files can be discovered other than by hacking your Dropbox account.

If this guy is involved in gathering information about really controversial stuff then it is not 'tinfoil hatty' to suggest that he may become the target of groups that have the capabilities to get to him.

There is a while lot more to security than just downloading TrueCrypt. (Which btw in my opinion is written by an intelligence agency anyway.)
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 09:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
Not really.
Yes it is. Why would the government be monitoring network packets of visitors of a hostel when, if they really wanted to and/or it were legal (if the government were to respect such a law), they could just monitor actual messages sent to people from wherever they are in the world via the various messaging services in existence?


I guess my point is that encrypting your backups is only one small piece of your security picture.
There are many other ways that your files can be discovered other than by hacking your Dropbox account.

If this guy is involved in gathering information about really controversial stuff then it is not 'tinfoil hatty' to suggest that he may become the target of groups that have the capabilities to get to him.

There is a while lot more to security than just downloading TrueCrypt. (Which btw in my opinion is written by an intelligence agency anyway.)
There is always a whole lot more to security than just downloading and installing something you don't understand and trusting it, but I do not buy your premise that the government is in the business of hacking decryption via super secret backdoors. That there are super secret backdoors is tin foil hatty.

The government probably gains access to things via cooperation with others and warrants and stuff - policey type stuff. There is no secret hidden massive server farm cracking decryption algorithms or data mining the world's transmissions run by top secret agent nerds.
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 10:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
The government probably gains access to things via cooperation with others and warrants and stuff - policey type stuff.
Ah, but gathering intelligence is NOT policing, and does not have the same standards (ie warrants). The goal of spying is to get information in order to gain an advantage from that information. The goal of warrants is to collect evidence of wrong doing for presentation in court. Spies don't need warrants!


Originally Posted by besson3c
There is no secret hidden massive server farm cracking decryption algorithms or data mining the world's transmissions run by top secret agent nerds.
What the heck do you think the NSA does all day???
( Last edited by tightsocks; Jan 30, 2012 at 10:21 AM. Reason: code syntax)
     
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Jan 30, 2012, 10:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
Ah, but gathering intelligence is NOT policing, and does not have the same standards (ie warrants). The goal of spying is to get information in order to gain an advantage from that information. The goal of warrants is to collect evidence of wrong doing for presentation in court. Spies don't need warrants!

What the heck do you think the NSA does all day???

Just what I said: police type stuff. Gathering intelligence. But relying on the cooperation of key companies, e.g. AT&T, Verizon, Google, Comcast, Microsoft, etc. for quarantining actual data that they suspect might help them. All of these companies work with the government to provide them the info they need, probably with exceptions where something is cost prohibitive or impractical.

Why would the government be doing this on their own when they can just call up AT&T and request phone records, or call Google up and ask them to digitally sign and quarantine certain emails, or call up Comcast and ask them about who was using a certain IP address, and from where?
     
 
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