Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Features: the All-New ‘FileVault’

A new layer of security is being added in Lion, with Apple enabling future Mac OS X users to keep all the data on their Mac even more secure with disk-level XTS-AES 128 data encryption.

That’s right, the all-new FileVault will include encryption at the disk level.

“Initial encryption is fast and unobtrusive — it encrypts everything in the background while you work,” Apple explains.

“FileVault also encrypts for your external drives, and provides the ability to wipe all the data from your Mac instantaneously,” the company notes on the Mac OS X Lion product page.

A feature that currently helps secure a user's files by encrypting the data within their Home folder, Snow Leopard’s FileVault only touches documents, settings, Keychains, and files that are considered sensitive.

Mac OS X Lion users will get an enhanced FileVault, which adds a generated encryption key to each of the users' Keychains, effectively providing them with the right to unlock and access an FileVault encrypted disk.

Users only need to remember their login password.

However, forgetting these, or the recovery key, may well result in a disastrous loss of all the user's data, but Apple provides a simple way to store the credentials on its servers, as well as a way to recuperate them at a later time.

This so-called plan B uses MobileMe, hinting that everyone using FileVault will be somewhat inclined to subscribe to Apple’s cloud-based service as well.

Luckily, there are rumors that MobileMe will become a free service soon, but the Mac OS X Lion feature offering to back up the passwords through MobileMe does say that "fees may apply".

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