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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to quickly create an encrypted archive in OS X

There are several methods for creating encrypted archives, including Terminal-based options and Finder services.

To make sending multiple files by e-mail or other means easier, Apple includes a quick Finder contextual menu option to zip a selection of files and folders into an archive, which not only will ensure that the files stay together, but can also greatly reduce their size for the file transfer. While convenient, Apple does not provide a means to encrypt or secure the contents of the ZIP archive with a password; however, there is a way to do this if needed.

To place a file or folder into a ZIP file that is encrypted, you will need to use the Terminal and perform the following actions:

1.
Type the following command, followed by a single space:

zip -e ~/Desktop/archive.zip

2.
Drag the folder containing your desired files to the Terminal window, so the command looks like the following:

zip -e ~/Desktop/archive.zip /Path/to/folder

3.
Press Enter, then supply the password to use for the archive, and the encrypted file will appear on your desktop.

This method may be a bit cumbersome, and it's not a very good implementation of encryption for files in OS X, either, so if you plan on encrypting collections of files regularly, your best bet is to use alternative means.

Apple's preferred encryption container for files is a disk image, which is a wrapper format that mimics a physical disk (hard drive or DVD). These images can be created using Disk Utility by choosing an option for disk images (i.e., from a folder or a new blank image) from the File > New menu. While this option is robust, having to use Disk Utility makes it a touch inconvenient to use; however, you can set up a Finder service using Automator that will allow quick access to making an encrypted disk image from any selection of files and folders.

To do this, open the Automator program and perform the following steps:

1.
Select the Service option when creating a new workflow (this looks like a large gear).

2.
For the service inputs (the menus at the top of the workflow), choose "files or folders" and then optionally choose Finder as the application.

3.
Next go to the Action library and drag the New Disk Image action to the workflow area (search for it if you cannot locate it).

4.
Change the image options so Size is set to size the disk image to fit its contents, and also check the Encrypt check box. You can name the volume and disk image file names if you wish; otherwise (and perhaps more intuitively) they will be named after the originating files and folders. By default the new image will be created on the desktop, but you can change this location as well.

5.
Finally, the default action when the image is created is to open it, but you can change this to reveal the image in the Finder. To do this, select "Unmount and return the image file" in the New Disk Image action (this is the last option), and then locate and add the Reveal Finder Items action to the workflow.

When finished, save the workflow and give it a name such as "Encrypted Disk Image from Selection," after which it will become available in the Services menu in the Finder and other applications that can pass files and folders to system services. To use the new service you have just created, select some files that you would like to encrypt, and right-click them to show the Finder's contextual menu. In the Services submenu, choose Encrypted Disk Image from Selection, and the service will prompt you for a password. After supplying the password, the system will reveal the new disk image in the Finder, which should be compressed and encrypted using AES 128-bit encryption.

Source: http://bit.ly/V5RDzs

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to prevent a volume from mounting at boot in OS X

You can keep any combination of volumes from automatically being available for read and write in OS X.

OS X will automatically attempt to mount an attached volume when the system is started, and if successful the volume will appear in the Finder either in the sidebar or on your desktop if you have these options enabled. However, there may be instances such as in multi-boot environments when you might want a specific volume to remain unmounted.

With multiple boot volumes in a system, when loaded in one operating system it is relatively easy to access and edit important files on the boot disk of other operating systems. Therefore, keeping the unused boot drive unmounted may be a preferred setup. Additionally, if you have numerous storage volumes for each OS and only wish to use one or two for your current boot system, then you might wish to keep those from mounting as well.

To set OS X up so it does not mount a drive at boot, you will simply have to instruct it to do so in the system's hidden fstab file, which is used for customizing drive mount points and other details about how a specific filesystem is handled.

The first thing you will need is the volume's UUID (universal unique identifier) number, which can be found by opening Disk Utility, selecting the volume of interest, and then pressing Command-i or clicking the blue information button in the Disk Utility toolbar. In the window that appears, locate and copy the UUID, which looks like a string of alphanumeric characters separated by dashes.

With the UUID, you can now create an fstab entry for the volume that prevents it from mounting:

1.
Open the Terminal utility (in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder)

2.
Edit the fstab file by running the following command (supply your password when prompted):
sudo pico /etc/fstab

3.
Create a new line at the end of the file that looks like the following (note: replace "NUMBER" with the full UUID string you copied from Disk Utility):
UUID=NUMBER none hfs rw,noauto

4.
Save the file by pressing Control-O, followed by Control-X to quit the editor.

Perform these steps for each volume you wish to prevent automatically mounting, then restart the system, and they should no longer automatically mount. If you need to mount the volumes, then you can open Disk Utility and select them followed by clicking the Mount button in the toolbar, and they should become available in the Finder.

Source: http://bit.ly/OUq3m1

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Apple issues Java updates for OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8

Following Oracle's release of Java version 1.6_35, Apple has packaged and made it available for OS X users.

Apple has released a security update for the Apple-supported Java runtime for OS X, which many users have installed on their systems. Java for OS X is available for Apple's latest three OS X releases starting with Snow Leopard. The update should be available through Apple's Software Update service (in the Apple menu).

This update was released by Oracle last week to tackle a few outstanding vulnerabilities (separate from those recently found in its latest Java 7 runtime), but since Java 6 for OS X is maintained and distributed by Apple, OS X users have had to wait until Apple issued the update.

Apple has released one updater for OS X 10.6 and one for OS X 10.7 or later that will bring the Java 6 runtime installation in OS X systems up to the latest version, version 1.6_35.

If you use Software Update to update your system then you do not need to select individual packages to use, but if you download them manually then be sure to use the one that is appropriate for your operating system:

Java for OS X 2012-005 (for OS X 10.7 or later)

Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 10 (for OS X 10.6)

Since this update addresses a known security vulnerability that could be exploited, if you have Java installed on your system then be sure to update it. If you are uncertain whether or not you have Java installed, then run Software Update and if you see this update as being available then download and install it.

Source: http://bit.ly/OogcUB

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mac Apps: New Parallels Aligns With Mountain Lion, Windows 8

Parallels' latest version of its virtualization software for Mac has been updated to support Apple's new OS X Mountain Lion OS. It's also ready for Windows 8. Parallels Desktop for Mac 8 includes the ability to start Windows apps directly from OS X, new integration features with Outlook, and more.

Following the lead of competitor VMware last week, Parallels raised the curtain Thursday on a new release of its software for running Windows software on a Mac computer.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 8 (US$79.99, or $49.99 for existing users who want to upgrade) will run on the latest version of Apple's OS X operating system, 10.8 Mountain Lion, and supports the upcoming release of Microsoft's operating system, Windows 8.

Parallels Desktop 8
Parallel's software runs OS X and Windows in separate virtual environments, but it presents the user with a seamless interface. The line between the operating systems is blurred so all applications appear to be running under a single operating system: OS X.

"It's one of the best solutions out there," ITIC principal analyst Laura DiDio told MacNewsWorld.

Better Integration
This latest version of Parallels Desktop contains a number new features that further integrate the two operating systems running on a Mac.

For example, Windows applications can be started directly from the OS X launchpad. "It really lets you load applications quickly," Didio observed.

Documents can be dragged to an Outlook icon in OS X, and they'll be placed in email messages in Outlook running in Windows.

Notifications in Windows are smoothly displayed in OS X, and if a Web page won't display properly in Apple's Safari browser, it can be redisplayed in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser running in Windows with a click of a virtual button.

What's more, touch features supported by Windows 8 -- features like zoom, pinch and rotate -- can be used through Parallels Desktop.

Candy for Eyes and Fingers
Mac features can also be shared with Windows. For instance, Windows Bluetooth devices can hook up to Microsoft's OS through a Mac's Bluetooth hardware -- no separate dongle required.

Parallells' software also allows Windows apps to take full advantage of Macs with Retina displays. "I'm not a gamer but even I can see the difference the Retina display makes to the human eye," Didio noted.

Another Mac feature shared with Windows is Mountain Lion Dictation, which will turn speech into text and insert it into Windows apps.

In addition, Windows can use a Mac's USB 3.0 ports for connection to peripherals designed for the Microsoft OS.

Desktop 8 also supports full-screen display of Windows on a Mac. That's useful when trying to use the new Windows 8 Metro interface. "Parallels knows to go to full-screen when Windows enters that mode," Ivan Drucker, co-owner and founder of IvanExpert, told MacNewsWorld.

"That has implications for those running Parallels with new Windows 8 applications," he added. "It's less significant if you're going to be running Windows 8 with traditional applications or any other version of Windows."

Fusion 5
A major competitor to Parallels, VMware released a new version of its virtualization software, Fusion 5 ($49.99), last week. It contains many of the features found in Parallels, as well as support for Apple Airplay.

"It lets you see Windows on your HDTV," Nicolas Rochard, VMWare's group product marketing manager for Fusion, told TechNewsWorld.

He explained that VMWare focused on real-world performance in Fusion 5. "If you run synthetic benchmarks, you're not going to see a lot of improvements," he said.

Where you will see improvements, he continued, is in things like rebooting your Windows 7 virtual machine (40 percent faster) and battery life (45 percent longer).

He noted comparison tests performed by VMware using two-year-old MacBook Pros showed a machine running Fusion 5 ran an hour longer than the same machine running Fusion 4.

Two Peas in a Virtual Pod
Both Parallels Desktop 8 and Fusion 5 stack up to each other very favorably, fixit maven Drucker noted.

"These are evolved products that have reached a certain level of robustness, and there's a lot of feature parity between them," he said.

Traditionally, Parallels received kudos for its integration with OS X, he explained. Fusion's edge was in raw performance.

"I think those distinctions at this point have become blurred, especially in the new products," he opined.

Source: http://bit.ly/PRYpYO

New vulnerabilities found in latest Java update

Following its latest updates, more vulnerabilities have been uncovered in Oracle's Java 7 runtime.

Only hours after Oracle released its latest Java 7 update to address active exploits, security researchers found yet another vulnerability that can be exploited to run arbitrary code on systems that have the runtime installed.

Oracle's latest release of its Java 7 runtime has come under scrutiny in the past few weeks after it was found being actively exploited in malware attacks that target Windows systems. While so far the vulnerability has only been found being used against Windows, other platforms such as the Mac OS could potentially be targeted through the same exploit.

In response to these findings, Oracle broke its quarterly update schedule for Java and released update 7 for the runtime; however, even after this update, yet more vulnerabilities have been found. According to MacWorld, the Polish security firm Security Explorations is claiming to have discovered two new vulnerabilities in Java 7, which so far are proof-of-concept exploits that can be used to break the Java 7 sandbox and execute code. However, as with any vulnerability this opens new avenues for malware attacks.

Security Explorations is keeping the details about these latest vulnerabilities secret until Oracle addresses the problem, and has only stated that when exploited they allow rogue Java applets to break the Java sandbox and execute arbitrary code on the system.

Being only proof-of-concept attacks means that for now they should not pose much of a threat to Java users, and Oracle should address them in future updates. However, Oracle has recently met some criticism for its lackadaisical approach to addressing some known exploits. According to PCWorld, Oracle has known about these and other exploits since April of this year, and has not taken steps to close them.

These latest developments serve as a warning against using Java when not needed and also prematurely updating Java. Java 7 is still very early in its development, being only the seventh release so far, whereas prior runtimes have received over 30 updates to patch and manage vulnerabilities. As a result, if you need Java then you might consider installing a prior runtime version that has been well-tested, but if you do not need Java then you might consider avoiding installing it or removing it from your system if it is already installed.

Java 7 is an optional third-party installation for its supported operating systems, so only those who have installed it should be cautious of these vulnerabilities.

Source: http://bit.ly/RvZzpl

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is this the Future of the Data Center world?

Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath

You want to know a fast way to cool down a computer? Dunk it in a big tank of mineral oil.

That’s a technique that Intel has been testing out over the past year, running servers in little oil-filled boxes built by an Austin, Texas, company called Green Revolution Cooling. As Gigaom reported on Friday, it turns out that once you take out the PC’s fans and seal up the hard drives, oil-cooling a server works out pretty well.

In its tests, Green Revolution’s CarnotJet cooling system used a lot less energy than their air-cooled counterparts, Dr. Mike Patterson, a power and thermal engineer with Intel, tells Wired. Intel found that oil-cooled systems only needed another 2 or 3 percent of their power for cooling. That’s far less than your typical server, which has a 50 or 60 percent overhead. The world’s most efficient data centers — those run by Google or Facebook, for example — can get that number down to 10 or 20 percent.

Intel’s research is part of a much larger effort to significantly reduce power consumption in the data center. Power is one of the most costly aspects of data center operation, particularly if you’re running the sort of massive computing facilities that underpin web services as popular as Google or Facebook.

Although it’s still considered a cutting-edge technology, Green Revolution Cooling hopes to have a big effect on data centers. As Green Revolution’s director of marketing David Banys sees it, an oil-cooled data center could be set up just about anywhere, cheaply. “There’s no need for chillers; there’s no need for raised floors,” he says. “You can put our servers in a barn that’s 110 degrees.”

Does that oil hurt the hardware in any way? After running the servers for a year in its New Mexico data center, Intel popped them open them and found that the oil hadn’t harmed things at all. In fact, because oil-cooled servers are kept at a common temperature, it may turn out that they’re even more reliable than their air-cooled counterpart, Patterson says. But that’s an area for future research.

There is a downside, though. If you need to pop open an oil-cooled server to change a part, it can get a little messy. One of the Intel techs working on the tests in the company’s New Mexico data center brought in a change of clothes each day, just in case he needed to pull the plug, drain the oil, and tinker with one of the systems.

Green Revolution recommends an oil change every decade.

Still, the CarnotJets are so power-efficient, that Patterson thinks that the data-center set will eventually want to try them out. “If and when server manufacturers get around to doing this, then I think the adoption could be pretty reasonable,” he says.

In addition to removing fans and sealing up hard drives — or switching the servers to solid state drives, which have no moving parts — server makers also need to remove the conductive grease between the server’s processor and its heat sink, because it can leach out into the mineral oil, Intel says.

According to Green Revolution Cooling, at least one server company is getting ready to ship this type of oil-bath-ready servers: SuperMicro. David Banys says that SuperMicro should be announcing its servers any day now. SuperMicro couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Source: http://bit.ly/RwVB3T