Apple MacOS has always been a very secure operating system at least when compared to its biggest competitor Windows. However times are changing and with the Mac now controlling about 10% of market share, the Mac OS has been getting a lot of attention from cyber crooks in recent years.
Moreover, crooks are designing more sophisticated phishing scams and platform agnostic threats. As such, Mac users have never been at greater risk when taking their devices into the internet. Data can be lost in a variety of ways which makes the need to enhance your Mac’s security as important as ever.
There is not only the risk of losing files when your computer crashes but there is the risk that you can get all kinds of viruses and malware when exchanging files with others or downloading from the Internet. The following are the five most important steps to take to increase your Mac’s security.
- Enable your Mac’s Security Features
The Mac has some of the best security features any computer user could ever wish for. The only problem is that when you buy your machine, these features are usually not enabled by default. Enable the following features to harden your OS’s security:
– Set up a System Password and Disable Automatic Login
There’s nothing more annoying than having to enter your password every time you turn on the computer, but not having a password is like leaving your front door wide open. Thankfully you can enable system password and disable automatic login with one click of a password, which will make it harder for the hacker to get your data in case your Mac gets into the wrong hands.
– Enable FileVault Encryption
The hard drive on a Mac can be easily plugged into another computer using a SATA/IDE to USB cable and the hacker could get all your data even if you had a password. The best way to prevent anybody from getting to your data is by enabling file encryption using the File Vault tool that comes with every Mac. Using the FileVault you can set a password that encrypts and decrypts all your files making them useless to any hacker who gets their hands on them.
– Enable the Built-in Firewall
With your firewall enabled most hackers will find it hard to get into your Mac from the Internet. Once set up, it will regulate and control any outbound traffic and inbound network connections including asking permissions for any applications.
- Regularly Check for Software Updates and Install Patches
While a Mac is more secure than any other OS out there, the threat is increasing as more users get into the Mac OS ecosystem. One of the best ways to keep out any malicious attacks is by always updating your software to the latest versions as soon as Apple releases them.
Thankfully updating your software is very easy on the Mac as all you have to do is launch the built-in Software Update tool, which will check the Apple servers for any updates and patches you need to make. An even better approach to this is to enable automatic updates that will automatically check for any updates, and then prompt you to download and install the software when they are available.
- Avoid Illegal File Sharing
Illegal file sharing is one of the most common ways through which Macs get infected with malware. Sharing sites are a popular way for malware authors to spread infected files since a lot of people still think that they can get things for free without any consequences.
If you have a habit of downloading pirated software from peer to peer sites you need to stop as this is an easy way for hackers to gain access to your Mac. Moreover, by using peer to peer sites you can inadvertently expose the data in your computer to everyone using the site. By keeping away from illegal software download sites, you can keep your Mac relatively safe from hackers.
If you need to use peer to peer download sites and there is no way for you to avoid this (sometimes you need to do this for work, for example), then it’s an absolute must to use a dedicated Mac VPN to hide and encrypt your traffic.
- Have a Backup Solution
Despite all precautions, you might find that you lose all your data which makes backing up all of your important data very critical. The MacOS comes with a very handy utility called Time Machine that makes a backup of your data very convenient and easy.
Using Time machine, you can always restore your system to an earlier point in time in case you lose your files by accident or the hardware fails. The good thing about Time Machine is that you can back up your data to the MacOS server, the Time Capsule, or an external drive, where you can recover it whenever you need it.
You should always ensure that you have both a local and external backup of your files at all times just in case it becomes impossible to use your computer due to calamities such as theft or destruction of the computer.
- Create a non-admin Account for non-Important Activities
When setting up your computer ensure that you set up two accounts one with administrative privileges and the other with no privileges. While the administrator can change file permissions, install and uninstall software, you want to have another user that cannot do any of those.
You can then use the Standard user account to do less important work, while your more important files are secured in the Administrative user account. With the standard account, you will typically have to enter a password for installing software or changing permissions, which make you think twice before making important changes.
While using the standard account is not foolproof, it serves as a warning when something is happening that is not quite right such as deleting files or installing applications that may be harmful.
Follow the above tips to maximise your Mac’s security and dramatically decrease your chances of ever being infected.