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The Lion Has a Problem: Mac User Passwords Not So Secure

So, you’ve just gotten your hands on Mac’s newly released OS X Lion and you couldn’t be more thrilled? Well, sorry to rain on your parade, but it would appear Apple has a problem. Not just a “well I don’t like this one specific feature, blah, blah” problem, but an actual security flaw in the software that allows automatically stored passwords to be easily extracted from a sleeping computer.

According to Passware, a software provider, the latest edition of their password cracking forensic suite Passware Kit Forensic v11 can extract Mac OS X Lion user login passwords from the computer’s memory in a matter of minutes. The vulnerability occurs when the computer is in sleep mode. Passwords that are stored in the computer’s memory can be extracted using Passware’s software, which captures the computer’s memory via a FireWire connection and thus the passwords.

The passwords are able to be stolen regardless of strength or FileVault encryption. What’s more, the vulnerability is present in all the modern versions of Mac OS, including 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.7 Lion. According to Passware, this security flaw has an easy fix, just turn the computer all the way off instead of putting it into sleep mode, and disable Automatic Login in settings.

Passware’s Kit Forensic v11 costs a whopping $995, so it’s unlikely that would-be password thieves after your login information would purchase the program. But given that all you have to do to make your password secure is turn your computer off, it may be best to just shut it down.

(via Security Week)

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