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I'm wondering if my HD gets stolen, and my current permissions are set to: User: R&W Staff: R&W Everyone: R only.

Would anyone be able to plug it to a mac (it's a HFS+ partition) and just read any file?

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External drives [in fact any drive other than the current boot volume] have zero protection by permission.

It is trivial to Get Info on the volume & set "Ignore ownership on this volume"

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The only way to protect data from any potential bad actor in possession of your drive is to encrypt it.

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  • Gotcha! I'm better off with File Vault on my external then!
    – Kerberos
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 5:50

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