Here’s the deal. Somebody somewhere is out to get you. They want your credit card, bank information, or anything else available. Hackers and auto bots are the digital equivalent of dumpster divers who rummage through your trash to find valuable information that can be used to enrich themselves.
Through the years I’ve settled on a health list of security tips to keep my Mac more private and secure. Am I too paranoid? Of course not. When everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia goes a long way.
Firewall – macOS comes with a built-in software firewall, and so far as I can remember in the OS X era always has. So why does Apple turn it off by default? Open System Preferences, click the Security and Privacy icon, click Firewall, and turn it on. Will it help? It can’t hurt.
Little Snitch – Think of this as a reverse firewall. Instead of blocking incoming traffic, Little Snitch blocks traffic from your Mac to the internet. Won’t that screw up email and browsing? No. You control what connections are made from your Mac to anywhere else with just a few clicks.
Automatic Login – If you’re truly paranoid, you won’t turn on Automatic Login. Back to Security and Privacy > General. Click Disable Automatic Login. That means you’ll have to use your Mac account password to use the Mac, but it also keeps out friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, and hackers.
Third Party Apps – Most apps that Mac users install are accepted by Apple from certified developers. But not all. In Security and Privacy there’s a setting in General which disallows app installations and usage from unidentified app developers.
FileVault – Same location. Security and Privacy. FileVault encrypts your Mac and a password is required to use your Mac. Don’t forget the password.
Privacy – In the same System Preferences pane you’ll see Privacy (next to Firewall). This one requires work because so many Mac applications want information about you. Location Services is only one example. Choose wisely.
Cookie – This little app is a godsend. Cookie tracks the cookies that you pick up with browsers on your Mac and deletes them according to a time schedule or when you quit the browser. Try it out first, then use it. Cookie has enough settings to ensure that your Mac’s browsers– the major ones– remain clean and free of cookies and browser history. If you’ve been visiting incriminating websites, this is a good way to stay clean.
Firewall – Wait. Is this a repeat? No. The Mac’s built-in firewall in System Preferences doesn’t have many settings, so if you don’t mind getting your Mac’s geek on, then try Murus. Basically, it’s a front end for the Mac’s software firewall and it gives you many more options.
Sharing – In System Preferences there’s a Sharing option. Tread carefully as the wrong settings can allow others to get access to your Mac from a remote location. I keep File Sharing and Printer Sharing on and everything else off.
Those are the easy tips to make sure your Mac is locked down and more difficult for hackers, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family from getting to what you don’t want them to see. One of the easiest ways is the simple login password. Start there.