I've just received my new MacBook Air. (my first Apple computer in 15 years!) Unfortunately, I had it sent to work on a day I wasn't in, and it was mistaken for the new intern's computer. He proceeded to do whatever it is one does with a new mac when one first receives it.

I have the admin password he created, but I imagine I need to do a full wipe to be sure the computer hasn't been tampered with - i.e., a login script exists that maliciously exports my data.

What steps should I take to secure my laptop? What registration etc. information might I need to correct that one enters upon starting up a new MacBook Air?


The simple way is to boot to recovery mode and use disk utility to first erase the "Macintosh HD" partition, then start the installer. No need to zero the drive since you won't be recovering any deleted files at this point.

A verified correct installer of Lion will then get downloaded from the Internet.

Here is a guide for you...

Once you go through the new boot process to create your preferred admin account and register the Mac to your Apple ID. Just send in whatever registration info you please when prompted. This will bump any prior registration if it was even sent.

  • I'm a bit confused - I should first erase the drive, but there's no need to? How is "zero"-ing the drive different than erasing it via disk utility?
    – Thomas
    Jun 20 '12 at 1:42
  • Ha looks like I have vim, bash, netcat and Safari in recover mode - no need to install osx! Hm read-only file system though - distracted from original goal as I read about how to create a memory-mapped file.
    – Thomas
    Jun 20 '12 at 1:47
  • Boot to single user mode and you can mount the drive rw mode. You still need to verify the binaries, but can have a stripped down shell and play with the very low levels of the system. Welcome back to Mac!
    – bmike
    Jun 20 '12 at 1:55
  • 1
    zero-ing is an extra security option (that you don't need in this case). Before the format, it actually overwrites the whole disk with zeros (or random data). Takes quite a while. Just do a regular erase/format.
    – Thilo
    Jun 20 '12 at 5:11

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