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I notice that if I boot into any linux liveCD, my NTFS drives are automatically mounted, and I have access to everything. This seems like a huge security issue.

Is this a filesystem issue or something else? If I were running Linux on an ext4 drive and set file permissions to 700, could I still access the files so easily?

If not, is there a way to make Windows files secure using permissions?

I don't really want to use encryption or something like BitLocker simply because it adds too much overhead.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Filesystem permissions are enforced by the software kernel and not by the hardware, and so will obviously only work if the software knows the users the filesystem refers to. This is not the case when Linux accesses the drive: it has no knowledge of the Windows users database. Therefore, it can't enforce access permissions, and it chooses just to grant all rights it can to everyone.

This is indeed a filesystem flaw, and ext4 will suffer from it too if you mount it on a permissive unrelated system. No filesystem can prevail from that, except if they're encrypted.

If you really don't want people to access your files, you need to use encryption. If you don't want to use it, you're screwed and there's nothing to do.

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Two corrections: 1) On Linux, permissions are enforced by the filesystem driver. 2) The ntfs-3g driver supports NTFS ACLs just fine, it just allows them to be disabled. –  grawity Aug 2 '10 at 10:04

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