An obvious problem with today’s Apple hardware

I wrote to Tim Cook a year or two ago about a problem with Apple hardware, but he didn’t respond.  Perhaps if thousands of Apple customers write e-mails and flood the support forums we can get an answer.

Take a look at the following Apple pictures.

macbook-ports3

ports_15in

Now take a look at these pictures, taken from Apple’s website today.  Can you spot the difference?

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.19.16 AMScreen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.19.44 AM

Did you spot the problem?  Can you see what’s missing from today’s Apple hardware? The industry standard Kensington security slot!

Your first thought will probably be that MacBooks are simply too thin to accommodate a security slot.  The design simply won’t allow for it.  Yet take a look at the latest Thinkpad X1 Carbon released this month.  It has a security slot and the device weighs only 2.83lbs with a height of 0.53 inches (front) – 0.77 inches (back) which is MacBook Air sized territory.

lenovo-laptop-thinkpad-x1-carbon-2-side-ports-9

Indeed, this is nothing new, as one of the very first Ultrabooks to be released, the Toshiba Portege Z830, also had a Kensington lock slot.

z830_5

So why has Apple removed the security slot?  It’s unlikely to be a ‘Unibody’ engineering issue as MacBook Pros, including Unibody models, have featured a security slot right up until the Retina model was released. One might argue it’s a space issue but Ultrabook manufacturers have shown it’s possible.

I think if we look away from laptops for a minute, we might just get a clue into Apple’s thinking. The Mac Mini used to have a security slot, but that has also now been removed, despite there being plenty of room for one.  Perhaps the removal of security slots across Apple’s hardware range is intentional, by design and not necessity?

apple-mac_mini-schematic

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.20.13 AM

One could argue that physical security is no longer needed if you use FileVault for full-disk encryption, Time Machine for local back-ups and iCloud for remote backup of important data.  In the event of theft, you can use Find My Mac and Remote Wipe, or third party solutions such as LoJack. If you’re lucky you can erase any data before thieves start poking around.  If you’re really lucky you might even get a location ping to pass onto the police.

41DGbXhN5zL._SX425_

A lock costs less than $20 at Amazon

Yet no matter how clever the software, unless you have insurance, you’re still going to be out of pocket by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  Not to mention the time wasted in setting up a new computer and restoring back-up data.  Don’t forget to cross your fingers and Hail Mary if you’ve never tried or verified your restore process before!

Sure, a $20 Kensington lock isn’t going to stop a determined thief who has specifically targeted you and your data, but it should prevent opportunistic thefts in cafes, offices and other shared spaces. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 7.34.44 PM

How to secure the new Mac Pro?

Form over function? Beauty over security? An insurmountable engineering problem?  If you write to tcook@apple.com perhaps we’ll find out the answer.

 

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4 Responses to An obvious problem with today’s Apple hardware

  1. Reed says:

    I’m not so sure you realize just how trivial it is to forcibly remove the lock. It’s a bit like putting a lock on a screen door.

    • Karen says:

      As the author states, “Sure, a $20 Kensington lock isn’t going to stop a determined thief who has specifically targeted you and your data, but it should prevent opportunistic thefts in cafes, offices and other shared spaces.”

      Deterring the opportunistic thief is where this would be useful. A screen door lock wouldn’t stop a determined intruder but it would slow them down and create noise that can serve as an alert.

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