[OT] Security for stacks with Community version

Timothy Miller gandalf at doctorTimothyMiller.com
Mon May 6 02:29:23 EDT 2013

Years ago, when I first wrote my "rolodex" stack, I intended to store phone numbers, addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other useful information in one convenient place, one stack in a suite of stacks I use in my day to day business. If these fell into the wrong hands, any small time crook could completely take over my identity and the identities of others. I was also concerned about security if I needed to get the machine serviced.

At the time, Macs secured by log-in password only, weren't very secure, as I recall. For example, if you restarted the machine with command-T down, and connected to another machine by Firewire, you could use the first machine as if it were an external hard disk. In that case, the log-in password gave you no protection. FileVault did not exist at the time.

So, with Jacque's help, I set up an encryption system for my "rolodex" stack.  If a given card was security sensitive, I'd click on a button, enter the password, and certain fields were hashed and hidden. Click on the same button, enter the same password, the fields were un-hashed and un-hidden. Because the stack was password-protected, you couldn't peek at the button script to find out the key for hashing and un-hashing the fields. "Set the password of this stack to foo" didn't work unless you first un-protected the stack, which required the master password for the stack. There were other details, but that's the general idea. It wasn't perfect, but I was satisfied with it. As I recall, a tech-savvy person could, in theory, use a text editor to discover the master password for the stack.

Now, I'm switching to LiveCode Community 6.0.1, so I have to re-think security for this stack.

One possibility is to re-write the script for the hash-and-hide button, using the encrypt and decrypt commands. If I choose that route, I'll probably have to pay a consultant. I can actually do Chinese arithmetic, but that's easy compared to the documentation for those commands.

It also occurred to me that I could just enable FileVault -- hadn't used it before.

Now that I've tried FileVault, I've realized how little I understand about the topic of security for modern Mac machines and OS. Hence, the following questions:

1-If my machine is lost or stolen, while shut down, how hard would it be to get past the log-in password, to my relatively insecure "rolodex" stack? How does one get past the log-in password? (for this question and the next two, assume FileVault is turned off.)

2-If I set up an administrator account for technicians, with a different log-in password, how hard would it be for the technician to get past the log-in password for my user account?

3-In recent versions of the OS, does my log-in password protect the hard disk when it's removed from my machine? How hard is it to defeat that protection?

4-Given that you can't use my machine to launch a nuclear missile, do I really need the ultra-secure protection provided by FileVault?

BTW, if this stack ever leaves my machine, for the cloud or a USB thumb drive, for instance, I always encrypt it first, usually with StuffIt Deluxe.

Thanks in advance,

Tim Miller

More information about the use-livecode mailing list