How to Break Into a Mac (or Reset Your Forgotten Password) And Prevent It from Happening to You

28 Oct

Method One: Use the Mac OS X Installer CD

Method Two: Boot into Single-User Mode

If you don’t have an installer CD handy, you just need to do a bit of fancy command-line footwork to achieve the same end as the CD method. Boot up the computer, holding Command+S as you hear the startup chime. The Mac will boot into single user mode, giving you a command prompt after loading everything up. Type the following commands, hitting Enter after each one and waiting for the prompt to come up again before running the next one:

/sbin/fsck -fy
/sbin/mount -uw /
launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.DirectoryServices.plist
dscl . -passwd /Users/whitsongordon lifehacker

How to Protect Your Mac from Being Broken Into

Both of these methods are easy to pull off, but if your victim has encrypted their hard drive, you won’t be able to see or reset the password. So, to protect yourself, it’s a good idea to turn on FileVault under System Preferences > Security.

However, for even more protection, you can set up a firmware password on your machine. Just boot up from the OS X Installer CD and go to Utilities > Firmware Password Utility and set a firmware password. This prevents other folks from being able to boot up your computer from another hard disk, CD, or even in single user mode. Someone with bad intentions could still bypass it, but it would require quite a bit of alone time with your hardware. So, for best results, you’ll probably want to have both layers of protection: encrypt your drive with FileVault and set up a firmware password using the installer CD.

How to Break Into a Mac And Prevent It from Happening to You.

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