Password Security Control Panel

As a consultant to Apple, Lisa served as the UI design lead for this PowerBook project. The text and screenshots below were excerpted from the 19-page "Human Interface Specification" she wrote for this product.

Function of Password Security

Password Security (PS) is a control panel that provides password protection for information stored on a PowerBook’s internal disk. PowerBooks are valuable and portable, characteristics that make them attractive targets for theft. When a PowerBook is stolen, the owner loses a not only a valuable computer but also control over the information stored on it. In the event of theft, password protection minimizes the risk of anauthorized access to sensitive data. Because PS renders a stolen PowerBook unusable, it may eventually help prevent PowerBook thefts.

General Use

When PS is on, the user must enter the correct password before accessing information on the PowerBook’s internal disk. As shipped, PS will request the password every time the PowerBook starts up or wakes from sleep. (Wakeup protection is an optional security feature that can be disabled by the user.)

The Password Security control panel includes the following interactions:

  • Opening and closing the PS control panel
  • Setting up PS:
  • Specifying the password

  • Confirming the password

  • Providing a hint for remembering the password

  • Turning wakeup protection on or off

  • Clearing the current setup

  • Turning PS on
  • Turning PS off
  • Entering the password (when requested by PS)

Design Goals, Objectives, & Rationale

The ultimate goal of Password Security is to provide effective, easy-to-use security for PowerBook users who are concerned about exposing the data on their PowerBooks to thieves. To help us achieve this goal, the following design objectives were targeted:

  • Minimize the effort needed to set up and use password protection. The advantages of password protection must clearly outweigh any disadvantages. If password protection is difficult to set up, users may not bother to do so. If password protection introduces burdensome or annoying security procedures, users are likely to turn it off.
  • Prevent unauthorized users from accessing a PowerBook’s internal disk. This is the key feature of PS. PS must provide a level of protection that inspires user confidence.
  • Make it very difficult for users to get locked out of their own PowerBooks. Help authorized users remember their passwords.
  • Prevent unauthorized users from changing the password or turning on protection.
  • Allow for security on shared PowerBooks. Setup must be flexible enough to accommodate more than one authorized user.


Above: the main application window. This window opens when the application is launched.

Above: the setup dialog. This dialog opens when the “Setup” button in the main window is clicked.

Above: the login dialog. This dialog opens whenever password security is on and the computer is started or wakened from sleep.