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I want to set a master password for the whole machine, but it appears this can be easily bypassed.

It is possible to reset the Mac OS X Password using the OS X installation disk and Password Reset utility.

  1. Isn't this a security flaw?
  2. Can this be stopped by other than encrypting the whole hard disk?
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Mac OS X (and now OS X) has always allowed the installation tools to reset administrator passwords.

Rather than locking the OS which can always be modified, you can either encrypt the OS image using File Vault or use a Firmware password to prevent other OS from booting. Many people use both tactics together for enhanced security.

Setting a Firmware password is straightforward, documented in the system help and can be done via the installation disk or Recovery Partition.

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Also - Firmware passwords can be reset by trained technicians that have physical access to the hardware. Keep that in mind when you decide what steps you are taking to secure things. – bmike Jul 31 '12 at 15:16

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