When you’re online, you’re being tracked by one or more entities. When you’re online, someone or something is trying to hack into your device. What can you do to secure your device from outsiders?
Here’s my basic Mac security tip list.
- Firewall – Open System Preferences > Security & Privacy, and make appropriate changes to General, use FileVault if you want data encrypted on your Mac, but also turn on the Firewall (Apple has it turned off by default; hubris, much?). That action closes a few holes to outsiders.
- Passwords – The General tab in Security & Privacy has password options. Disable automatic login and set Require password to immediately. That keeps nosy neighbors, co-workers, or family members away.
- Privacy – The Privacy tab in Security & Privacy is a bit more complicated. Use it to assign or deny third party access to your personal data in Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Accessibility, etc. For example, I use SpamSieve to capture spam before it hits Mail’s inbox, and it works better with access to Contacts.
- Safari – The most popular browser for Mac, iPhone, and iPad has its own privacy settings. In Safari on the Mac, open Preferences and click on Privacy. This gives you options for cookie management, Location Services, and more. Other settings, such as Security and Notifications help to improve performance, block certain websites, and eliminate screen clutter (notifications).
- Sharing – Back to System Preferences again, but this time click on the Sharing button. Again, many options. I use Screen Sharing, File Sharing, and Printer Sharing, but allow access for only a specific user and password combo.
- Anti-Virus Apps – Wait. What? Are there viruses on the Mac? Yes, but it’s a far smaller issue than with Windows users. Malware exists, though, and Apple does a good job of tracking and plugging holes. Still, I run Bitdefender Virus Scanner every now and then. To date it’s never found any malware files and it’s free to use, does not run in the background so it won’t slow down your Mac.
- 2-Step Authentication – Apple is pushing this and I agree that it can be worthwhile to use, though it’s an extra step or two whenever you’re adding apps or changing devices.
- Passwords – There once was a time when I used a growing number of complicated passwords for websites and applications; passwords which contained a long string of numbers, letters in upper and lower case, and symbols. That requires a password manager because it’s just not possible to remember long, complicated, complex passwords. Unless you use something like this: macwalksbackwardsinwater. Easy to remember. Very difficult to hack.
- VPN – If everyone is out to get you, and they are, then paranoia is a good attitude to have. Those of us who sit on the paranoia side of life often opt for VPN services to ensure our local Starbucks Wi-Fi hackers won’t have access to our Macs.
Is there more you can do to secure your Mac from outside access? Yes, of course. But this list is quick and easy to implement and diminishes the opportunities that hackers, neighbors, co-workers, family members have to get into your Mac.