PGP Disk Encryption Bricks Upgraded Macs

Some Apple Mac users who rushed to upgrade their systems with the company’s latest security patch were left to scramble for help after a conflict with disk encryption software from PGP rendered the upgraded Macs un-bootable. Reports of users who were unable to boot their Macs after upgrading their Mac OS X systems to the 10.6.5 version began appearing in PGP support forums on Wednesday.

Apple PGPSome Apple Mac users who rushed to upgrade their systems with the company’s latest security patch were left to scramble for help after a conflict with disk encryption software from PGP rendered the upgraded Macs un-bootable. 

Reports of users who were unable to boot their Macs after upgrading their Mac OS X systems to the 10.6.5 version began appearing in PGP support forums on Wednesday.

“Do NOT apply 10.6.5 if you are running PGP FDE on Mac.  Myself and at least one other person I know of directly can no longer boot,” wrote a PGP Forum member using the name GeorgeStarcher on Wednesday afternoon.  

That message was followed by those from other users, also reporting “bricked” unbootable Macs following the upgrade. 

“I can also verify that 10.6.5 bricked my WDE Macbook Pro. It’s frozen at the boot screen. Looks like a wipe and reinstall is necessary,” posted a user with the handle Static416.

By Wednesday evening, PGP – now a division of Symantec Corp. – had posted an alert warning customers using its Mac Whole Disk Encryption (WDE) product not to upgrade. 

“MAC WDE customers should not apply the recent Mac OS X 10.6.5 update. Compatibility issues may prevent the system from successfully booting. We will provide a detailed update as soon as a solution has been identified,” the post, signed PGP Technical Support, read.  

PGP WDE customers who need to upgrade were advised to first decrypt their drive, apply the 10.6.5 update and then re-encrypt it, PGP said. Symantec has not yet responded to a request for comment from Threatpost.

By Thursday, the SANS Internet Storm Center was warning its readers to beware of issues with PGP WDE when upgrading to 10.6.5.

Questions about whether users needed to decrypt their drives before applying the patch were raised prior to the release of the upgrade on Wednesday, without clear guidance from PGP.

Pre-release versions of the 10.6.5 update have been available to Apple development partners for weeks. It is not clear whether PGP tested its WDE product on those prior to the official release on Wednesday, or whether a last minute change to 10.6.5 caught the company by surprise. 

The lack of clear communication from PGP clearly irritated customers. 

“Can confirm it as well. Absolutley (sp) pathetic support. It would have taken 5 mins to find this. What are the alternatives to pgp?” posted a user with the handle prquinlan to the PGP support site.

While no company-sanctioned workaround has yet been posted, users note that a PGP document on recovering encrypted data from drives using the OSX version of  its whole disk encryption product does provide instructions on recovering from boot issues with encrypted disks that were successful in allowing customers who upgraded to recover their drive. That document is available here. (PDF)

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Discussion

  • Anonymous on

    The last URL in the article is a 404.

  • christopher.brook on

    Thanks for the heads up, should be fixed!

  • Bryan Gillson on

    Important clarification to customers: laptops are not "bricked." All data is fully recoverable. If you have experienced this issue, reformatting your system and restoring from a backup is not necessary.

    The recovery process can be found on our support site here: https://pgp.custhelp.com/?faq=2288

     

    Bryan Gillson

    Symantec

  • Ross McLeod on

    PGP's suggested solution is only partially effective:

    1.  Booting from CD took 3 different CDs for me, a variety of key presses (option key, C key, etc.) while booting, until my MacBook would boot from it.

    2.  Now I'm in to the system, I'm trying to run's PGP's script to fix the problem, and it produces the following error:

    -bash: sudo./PGPwdeEFIUpdate.sh: No such file or directory

    I've submitted a comment on their website, and asked them to email me once the script works...

  • Bryan Gillson on

    Ross, thanks for pointing that out - I spoke to the developer and there is an error in the KB article. There should be a space between the word "sudo" and the period in this line:

    sudo./PGPwdeEFIUpdate.sh

    It should be:

    sudo ./PGPwdeEFIUpdate.sh

     

    I'll get the KB article updated.

  • Anonymous on

    Also, just FYI.  It is not PGP that bricks your system.  The Apple update bricks your system being that it overwrites your boot file.  DO NOT BLAME PGP.

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