I really wouldn't do this unless you actually need to test what happens when the system runs out of memory like if you're stress-testing an application you're writing. Turning off swap, as others have suggested, is such an extreme move as to be dangerous. The system will eventually die a sudden and perhaps horrible death. Using "srm" instead of "rm" in the rc file makes the most sense, as suggested above. The swap files will be securely deleted. As for physical access and security, this has always been known.
If someone has physical access to a computer, they can gain access. This is why the military developed the Tempest enclosure; it prevents physical access to all but the keyboard and mouse.
That is, they prevent someone from being able to intercept the RF signals put out by your system by having really tight sheilding. The reason that this is a problem is that sophisticated snoopers can 'see' what you are doing on your system by analyzing the RF it puts out. As far as the military is concerned, keeping a handle on physical access is what twitchy 18yr olds with M16s are for: Your system will not die a horrible death.
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I have tested using No vm swap on numerous systems for several weeks now. At worst you may get a beach ball when you try and open many many things at once It depends on how much RAM your machine has. As I said in the above hint this is for people who require more security than the current level of OSX default installation. For those who can not tolerate the fact that their Login and FileVault and Keychain passwords re there for the easy pickings to anyone that can has physical access to there machine or who roots it through a remote exploit!
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Cheers, Thomas Hardening Your Macintosh http: Your fantasy of security is slightly off centre. If the window server cannot malloc memory, then it will freeze. Once it has froze, you can ssh in and start killing things to free memory, but then you lose unsaved work. If you can't free enough to un-freeze the window server, then its dead. If someone roots your machine through some yet-to-be-discovered remote exploit that you have left on your machine even after a patch is released which would happen within days , then they have access to the kernel and can grab passwords from memory, forget the swap file.
If someone has root, then you're screwed. If your fantasy of keeping passwords off disk makes you feel special, then by all means go for it, it will only prevent you from working efficiently. Recommending that others do it is irresponsible. I have tried the grepping for password trick and it is particularly disturbing that my password showed up a dozen times, since then I have made sure that my login password and the root if you make the mistake to enable root password are different from all my other passwords and have discovered that I am unable to find my password in memory.
I do not know if this is sufficient proof that this "hole" is not as bad as you pretend, but it is does mean that there is almost no way for someone to crack my passwords, assuming that they can somehow get root to see my swap files anyway. Go check out John the Ripper, it might bother you sufficiently to go delete your hard drive to make sure your passwords are safe.
Sorry about that. I was under the impression it was for physical access. They have other enclosures that keep people away from switches, connectors, floppy drives, etc. This is why OpenBSD encrypts its swap. One can hope that Apple will at least offer the option to encrypt swap at some point in the future. About a month ago there was a discussion on macintouch. It is erasing all pass phrases from memory directly after using them which should prevent them from ending up in a swap file. While PGP disk works great and I definately reccomnend it as a better replacement to those using FileVault swap on or not.
Using PGP Vault does still not adress all the other security concerns with using vm swap.
How to disable virtual memory / swap files - Mac OS X Hints
Keychain login passwords and more are all written to swap plain text. As I said above, this hint is for those people who need a higher level of security and is not for everyone. I can't comment on FileVault's strength because Apple won't show source code for it.
Probably there are errors in the application of encryption in FileVault just like all the others. Proper use of encryption for disks is hard. But encrypting the swap files will surely slow down the perfomance of our memory considerably. I know its a pain, but this is a tricky topic.
What is the purpose of this vm folder?
Actually, the symmetric cypher used by OpenBSD to encrypt the swap file is faster than the disk access so there is no performance degradation at all except under ridiculous load. While the non-secure erase of swap files may be somewhat of a problem, it's kind of hard to pick out the passwords out of mostly random data in the free blocks of a hard disk without already knowing what they are. As for those nasty administrator users snooping, why did you make them administrators in the first place?
My setup: I'm running an oracle server for development. You can even tell your Mac to never swap again. Even on systems that have a lot of memory, your Mac might find a need to swap to its storage space instead of use its primary memory, or RAM. Shut it down and restart it, and then check your swapfile directory again — they should either be gone or substantially reduced in size.
Should you keep running into an issue, however, take a look at the apps you run on a regular basis, and try playing around with them one at a time. You might find that one app has a memory leak, and by rebooting after use or finding an alternative app, you can avoid the big swapfile issue altogether!