New MacBook Pro ditches key backup feature

“In 2016, when Apple introduced the first MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models, the repair experts at iFixit discovered the notebooks have non-removable SSDs, soldered to the logic board, prompting concerns that data recovery would not be possible if the logic board failed,” Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors. “Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

“Apple has a special tool for 2016 and 2017 models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that allows Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers to recover user data when the logic board fails, but the SSD is still intact,” Rossignol reports. “The tool is essentially a little black box that is able to transfer data from a failed logic board to a functioning MacBook Pro.”

“But, unfortunately, it appears the tool will not work with the latest models,” Rossignol reports. “Last week, iFixit completed a teardown of the 2018 MacBook Pro, discovering that Apple has removed the data recovery connector from the logic board on both 13-inch and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar… Multiple sources claim that data cannot be recovered if the logic board has failed on a 2018 MacBook Pro. If the notebook is still functioning, data can be transferred to another Mac by booting the system in Target Disk Mode, and using Migration Assistant, which is the standard process that relies on Thunderbolt 3 ports. The data recovery port was likely removed because 2018 MacBook Pro models feature Apple’s custom T2 chip, which provides hardware encryption for the SSD storage, like the iMac Pro, our sources said. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds more secure to us.

We do not want hidden ports to which random people can hook up to little black boxes that siphon off data of any kind from our machines.

As always: Back up often and keep your backups in multiple secure places on- and off-site.

SEE ALSO:
The MacBook Pro’s T2 chip boosts enterprise security: Secure boot, even for Windows installations on a Mac – July 23, 2018

[Attirbution: LAPTOP. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

17 Comments

  1. Just making something not work doesn’t make it secure. Security is the DIFFERENCE in difficulty between wanted and unwanted access. If someone can steal your laptop, they can steal your backup disk too – and that is even easier to access then your logic board.

  2. “We do not want hidden ports to which random people can hook up to little black boxes that siphon off data of any kind from our machines.”

    This is a fallacious argument. If someone steals your MBP, all they have to do is hold down the T key while booting so it boots into Target Disk Mode and then connect another Mac via Thunderbolt cable. Your MBP then appears as a disk on their computer and they can take anything they want.

    This is far easier (and MUCH more likely) than someone acquiring this “special tool” to siphon off your data.

    On the other hand, if your motherboard fails, Target Disk Mode probably isn’t going to help you much whereas the tool (wielded by professionals) would.

    I’m guessing not that many motherboards failed and Apple wanted to save a few cents on the connector…

    1. I hope they enjoy all that encrypted data they so easily stole. In fact, part of the reason for dropping the connector is, because the data is encrypted, the port would only give you garbled, useless data. Just like your target disk mode.

  3. Apple offers FileVault so the user can encrypt his entire hard drive locally. If the user chooses this, then SSD removability, theft by Target mode, and other hands-on attacks will be thwarted.

    If you choose not to use FileVault, then one could use other personal security measures. Except, of course, the standard cable lock interface was removed in the name of fashion. So just keep the MBP in your sight at all times.

    Apple is removing usability from its Macs for pure profit. They want to force you to rent iCloud, and they’re soldering the damn SSD to ensure the user cannot upgrade it at a future date. This is outrageous. No drive, SSD or otherwise, is reliable enough to have no recovery option.

    Just goes to show once again Apple doesn’t actually care about offering the best value. They are gouging their customers. You’re just supposed to look at the fashion on the surface and pay top dollar for an inferior engineered product.

    1. so to be clear you think the fact that they engineered the ability to encrypt at the hardware level and software level to be inferior? You pay top dollar because they are the only hardware maker eho is not selling you as the product and in fact makes profits on their products so they can actually offer security. Surely someone as serious as you about security understands that PCs and Androids offer almost no security and sometimes ship with the malware preloaded so you are screwed from the moment you turn it on.

    2. If the hard drive is removed and installed on the correct bus, have you any idea how much power can be brought to bear on attacking the encryption?
      As I understand it, normal encryption systems use the users password as a key. This is kept relatively simple because they have to use it to log in. Give it the power, you’ll crack it. This new system combines the password with a unique, huge and horribly complex ID. Thus it would withstand any amount of computing power brought to bear.

    3. “Apple is removing usability from its Macs for pure profit.”

      No. You are flat-out wrong in this particular instance. Apple is upgrading the data security of Macs (with T2 chips) to be on a level with iOS devices. That’s it.

      Just what do you have against a good backup routine?

  4. After spending 6 hours setting up his brand new MacBook Pro, Rush pressed “OK” to the “Your Flash is out of date. Upgrade?”.

    “Welcome to MacKeeper!”. Immediately shut it down, tried all variants of resets and safe boots. Nothing. MacKeeper owned his SSD. He gave his sponsor IDrive a nod and said he would no longer touch the “bricked” MacBook Pro..

    He said he knew better but was apparently “rope-a-doped” by 6 hours of install, restore, upgrade..

  5. I miss my trusty 2010 17 inch MacBook Pro with 4K

    A few years ago I bought a $3200 “Late 2013” MacBook Pro. It kept having un-reproducable crashes out of the gate. Failures at random. Sometimes it might take two weeks to happen, other time 2 minutes.

    I tried all the system tests, reinstalled everything, took it to a Genius (who, guess what.. couldn’t reproduce the issue, saw nothing in the log, and ran all the tests).

    After 2 years of this I finally figured it out that the internal system tests for SSD don’t catch everything.

    I now am happy with a 1TB Samsung SSD duct-taped to the top of my MacBook Pro. I boot into it — leaving the original as a clone backup of the outboard drive. Once in a while I see “Macintosh HD ejected unexpectedly” and sigh (confirming the on-board SSD is defective).

    Lesson: Soldered on hard drives are a hard pill for me to swallow.

  6. All of this reminds me that Apple needs to allow a “removable internal SSD” of some type in addition to the soldered SSD.

    “Duct taping” an SSD to a MacBook Pro is a rediculous (though practical) solution to being able to run the MBP when a problem exists with the internal soldered SSD.

    It sure seems to me that Apple has the room to allow a flash card slot in the MacBook pro which would allow running the MacBook Pro on the card or a full internal SSD for safety and security which is becoming ever more needed.

  7. Soldered drive means I won’t buy it. I’ve bought used MBs and got a lot of free programs (and interesting photos) from people who thought they deleted all their info.

    When I sold my old computers, I removed the hard drive and replaced it with a new one. Some I just sold for parts.

    Now you have to either remove the entire logic board or destroy the computer to get rid of it.

    Oh, does you computer get replaced by apple? Then all your drive data goes who knows where.

    Remember that Apple will sent out these broken MB’s to be repaired. The repair shop may or may not erase your data and it’s up to the honesty of the repair person to delete you data.

  8. Apple’s obsession with thin at the expense of the user is unconscionable. I like to buy a middle of the road laptop and upgrade the storage and memory when needed and economically without paying the Apple Tax up front for the privilege.
    Give me a few more millimetres in girth and tens of grams in weight which is neither here nor there, so I can replace or upgrade those two components which have no technical or functional need to be soldered to the logic board.
    If this is the direction Apple is going down across the Mac spectrum then expect the new Mac Pro to be another outrageous display of ignorance and arrogance by Tim and Co.

  9. I’d love to see a photo of a 2018 MacBook Pro “upgraded” with an external SSD and all of the required dongles duct-taped to the lid.

    It’d be a great marketing photo for Apple. Showing how they “thought different” and distilled a laptop down to an iPad with a lid and keyboard.

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