There are certain basic facts of the digital lifestyle that we need to embrace, prepare for, and acknowledge. Here’s my list:
- #1: Things happen – you can’t control or foresee everything
- #2: Everyone is out to get you – only the paranoid survive
- #3: Your Mac is not secure – hackers are attacking it now
What can you do to safeguard your privacy and enhance the security of your devices? Other than passwords, most Mac users don’t do anything and get by just fine. Others may walk through the recommended steps and still end up with malware or stolen data.
What can you do? First, remember #1 above. Second, be a little paranoid. Third, and #3, don’t worry too much about it because, back to #1– there isn’t much you can do.
Your Mac is not secure. But it might be secure enough already, and with a few basic precautions, you can reduce your chances of malware attackers, hacker attacks, or catastrophic attacks.
Malware – Macs may not get viruses in the traditional Windows PC sense, but malware exists everywhere, even on Macs, so it pays not to open that attachment you brother sent you unless you check first. Email phishing attempts are the category with the most vulnerabilities and exploits. The user is the problem more than the Mac.
Paranoia – when everyone is out to get you– and they are– a little paranoia goes a long way. Make sure your online accounts and Mac have unusual usernames or login IDs, that you have somewhat complicated passwords (and if you have too many to remember, use a password manager), and be careful which website you browse and what apps you download (including email attachments and files).
Expect Hacking – Each Mac has a built-in software firewall which Apple doesn’t even bother to turn on. Why not? It’s complicated. But that doesn’t stop automated hacking attempts from trying to gain access to your Mac through your internet connection. But that’s only one kind of hacking. Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers can gain access to your Mac, so having a password helps (preferably not one written on a Post-it Note stuck to the Mac’s screen).
In essence, your Mac is not secure, but it’s not an open window, either. Apple makes macOS updates frequent and easy to implement so you get the latest security upgrades.
That brings me to the ultimate security upgrade– backups. Here’s the scenario. You sit down at your Mac and it won’t turn on. Something is fried but the Mac is dead in the water and a trip to the Apple Store reveals it’s truly dead; nothing can be salvaged. All your email, photos, movie clips, music, applications and everything else you once used on your Mac is gone. Or, worse, there’s the catastrophic problem– fire, theft, earthquake, flood. Your Mac itself is gone.
What’s your backup plan? Time Machine? iCloud? External clone of the Mac’s hard disk drive? External hard disk drive with all critical files? Online backup service? What’s your plan? Here’s one of the steps in my backup plan. Here’s another. And, another good one.
Remember, a little paranoia goes a long way.