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Macs get crypto key to government budgets

Macs are a step closer to being accepted in government agencies, which usually require a full-disk encryption tool to protect sensitive data, after Check Point announced Pointsec for Apple's Leopard and Tiger operating systems.

Macs are a step closer to being accepted in government agencies, which usually require a full-disk encryption tool to protect sensitive data, after Check Point announced Pointsec for Apple's Leopard and Tiger operating systems.

Check Point on Wednesday announced an Apple Mac version of its Pointsec full-disk encryption tool, which is already available for Linux, Windows, and mobile operating systems Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm and PocketPC.

In April, The National Health Institutes banned its staff from using MacBooks because they lacked government sanctioned encryption, according to a report in InformationWeek.

OS X already features FileVault but that focuses on encrypting the user's home directory. Without whole-disk encryption, Unix-derived systems including OS X store files in unencrypted form details about VPN usage, log-in times, and which applications are installed in the default location. Some applications including Mozilla's Thunderbird save working copies of documents in an unencrypted area outside the home directory.

Apple executives have welcomed the technology. "We're delighted that Mac users in industries like government and healthcare who value high-quality encryption technologies have a strong solution that supports Leopard," Ron Okamoto, vice president of Apple's Worldwide Developer Relations, said in a statement.

In Australia, any government organisation that needs to encrypt information on laptops can only use software that has been evaluated by the Defence Signals Directorate. Currently, none support Apple Mac OS X but Pointsec for alternative operating systems has made the list.

Check Point's Pointsec Full Disk Encryption starts at US$120 in the US. Local pricing and availability is still to be announced.

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh contributed to this story.

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