10 Tips on Securing Your Mac
If you have purchased a Mac recently, you probably know that their computers and laptops have had a glowing reputation in previous years for being safe and secure. Unfortunately, that ride has come to an end. According to a report by Malwarebytes, Mac saw a growth in malware with an increase of 270% between 2016 and 2017.
It is thought that Mac was more secure before due to there being far more PCs around, but now that the number of Mac users are growing around the world, so are the risks of cryptocurrency threats, adware, spyware, and phishing attacks.
One of the latest perpetrators is the CookieMuner malware, which was created to steal passwords from Chrome and access your text messages via iTunes backups. From there, it gains information which will allow it to bypass two-factor authentication, essentially gaining access to cryptocurrency and make a dash with it.
So, what can you do to increase Mac security? Quite a bit actually, and luckily for you, we have a great list of tips on how to secure your Mac.
Top 10 Tips to Secure Your Mac
#1. For Mac Security – Keep Your Software Up To Date
This is one of the standard steps to take in securing your Mac, but one so many users overlook. Updating to the latest operating system will only take about ten minutes of your time, but can mean the difference between leaving your Mac wide open to threats and having a secure Mac.
In the past few years, Apple has introduced an incentive program which encourages widespread reporting of Mac’s flaws, with payments of up to $200,000 depending on how serious the flaws are. Back in 2016 Apple’s head of security stated;
“We’ve had great help from researchers in improving iOS security all along,” Krstic said. “[But] we’ve heard pretty consistently… that it’s getting increasingly difficult to find some of those most critical types of security vulnerabilities. So the Apple Security Bounty Program is going to reward researchers who actually share critical vulnerabilities with Apple.”
This means any vulnerabilities found are being sorted in your next operating system update.
#2. Review Your Privacy Settings
Head over to your Settings and click on Privacy. Here there will be a number of various controls which are displayed on the left-hand side of the window. You will find Location Services which will allow you to alter which apps have access to your location, or turn off Location Services completely. Trust your gut when it comes to your location and the apps that have access to it.
For example, your weather, Safari, and Maps can access your location, but messages certainly do not need to know where you’ve been and where you’re going. Clicking on the other options like Contacts, Calendar and Reminders will also show you which apps on your Mac can access and view this information. By clicking on Photos you will be able to view which apps have asked for permission to get to see and use your photos.
#3. Understand What You Are Sharing
Did you know that Mac has the possibility to share with other Macs? Sure, this is a pretty secure feature, because the other person needs a password, but as with everything else, there are always possibilities as to how to breach these features. This is why you should always turn off file sharing, unless you are using it. You can do that by:
- Opening up System Preferences.
- Find the Sharing icon.
- Read through the list on the left and see which ones are “on”.
- Remove any ticks you think are not needed to share files with.
Don’t know what some of the terms mean? Check them out below and see whether you really need to share your files.
Screen Sharing – this is mostly used in work environments so that tech support workers can help you out by seeing or controlling what is on your screen. If you are speaking to someone remotely this is also handy so that the person in another city or even on the other side of the world can see exactly what you’re talking about in real time.
If this doesn’t sound like something you get up to on a regular basis, make sure the screen sharing option is turned off.
File Sharing – Again, this can be found in the office, when the same files and documents are used by a collective of people, allowing them to make changes separately, but also save those changes so that they appear on everyone’s Mac. Also if you use Back to My Mac service, which is a file sharing system, this option needs to stay on. If you don’t partake in any of these activities, feel free to turn file sharing off.
Printer Sharing – This will make sure any printer that is connected with your Mac is shared with other computers found on the network, including PCs. Don’t want to share your printer or don’t have a printer to share? Turn this feature off.
Remote Login – This function will be turned off by most people unless you are a tech head and need a connection to your Mac via SSH/SFTP. If you don’t know what this means (a majority of people), make sure remote login is off.
Remote Management – Unless you use your Mac at work, where you need to give permission to administrators to access your Mac for things like upgrades, you need to turn this off.
Remote Apple Events – Allows another Mac to pretty much control yours or vice versa, making it print or speak. You should turn this feature off unless you want it to start randomly speaking.
Internet Sharing – A feature created a long time ago (think back to dial-up internet) which allows one Mac to share an internet connection with another. The need for this died out as soon as broadband and Wi-Fi routers came into play so make sure that this is off.
Bluetooth Sharing – This allows your Mac to send and receive files via Bluetooth. However, Bluetooth Sharing is not compatible with iPhones and iPads, meaning you only need to keep this service on if you have an Android smartphone and want to transfer particular files. In all other cases make sure it is off.
#4. For Best Security for Mac – Stop Spotlight Suggestions
Introduced in OS X Yosemite was a revamped version of Spotlight which is able to give you suggestions from the Internet. This caused a lot of privacy concerns, however, when it was found out that this version of Spotlight was leaking user’s private information back to its source, Apple. On top of that it was discovered that this same private information was being shared with a third party, the search engine Bing.
Apple’s privacy statement includes the following explanation:
“When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple.
Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. These searches are not stored by Microsoft. Location, search queries, and usage information sent to Apple will be used by Apple only to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services.”
Make sure to turn this off in Safari by heading to your Preferences and then Search. There you can uncheck “include Spotlight Suggestions”.
#5. Use Antivirus Software
If there are a large number of computers being used in a small area, such as a business, there are always bound to be bugs and malware creeping about. After all, security is always as powerful as your weakest link. Think about it, you probably have a coworker that isn’t as tech savvy as you might be and likes to click on random “lottery wins”.
Downloading and swapping files from one another can mean that you also swap bugs and viruses. What makes a good antivirus for your Mac? Look for the following features:
- Real-time antivirus protection
- Protection against phishing scams
- Virus, trojans, adware, spyware, and malware protection
- Remote firewall protection
- Disk cleaner
- Online web shield extension
- Safe password vault
- 24/7 customer service support
- Smartphone protection
- Money back guarantee
- Protection of multiple devices
- Enhance system performance
Now you must be wondering, which antivirus is best to secure my Mac? Have a look at our full report here to find out which brands deliver the goods in best security for Mac.
#6. Use a VPN
If keeping your Mac secure is a priority, this is one of the biggest layers of protection for your Mac you can invest in. A Virtual Private Network will essentially encrypt all of your data, making it virtually impossible for hackers sniffing around to get hold of information such as your contact details, passwords, locations, chat and messaging history, emails, and even your banking details.
The best VPNs will be able to give you the following:
- Strong encryption
- Easy setup
- Trusted military-grade protection
- Malware protection
- Large amount of servers
- No logs
- Fantastic customer service
You should be careful when choosing a VPN service provider so that you do not fall into traps set online. For example, there are many free VPNs available online claiming to protect your online activities, but the truth is those so-called “free” VPNs also take your data and sell it to third parties. For the best VPN experience, we recommend ExpressVPN. They have over 2,000 servers in 94 countries and a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you’re not happy with the service you can bow out, no questions asked.
If you want to surf the net with ease, sign up for ExpressVPN as the best security for Mac, today! ExpressVPN also offers a special deal, get 3 months free and 49% savings with their annual subscription plan!
Want to find out more? Check out the full review here
#7. Enable Full Disk Encryption
This additional layer of protection will mean that if your Mac is stolen, thieves will be unable to access your private data. FileVault is Apple’s full disk encryption feature that has been around for some time. It makes sure your data is safe by encrypting your entire hard drive with a secure algorithm.
If you forego to use this security advantage, you risk the possibility of thieves accessing all your data as soon as they get their hands on your Mac. To get FileVault activated, go to System Preferences, Security & Privacy, then FileVault (Turn on FileVault).
#8. Don’t Leave Your Mac Unattended and Unlocked
This might seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who fail to lock their computers as they get up to take care of other tasks. One trick you can apply is the screensaver hot corners which activate whenever you hover a mouse cursor over a particular corner of the screen. This will ensure your Mac is locked before you get up, protecting any information found on it.
#9. Use Two Accounts
You might think it’s a little odd to create two accounts for yourself, but this will go a long way in protecting your security. Sign up an administrator account which you will use only when you need to update keychains or modify software. Make sure to have a really strong password for this account. Then set up a regular, non-privileged account which will be limited on installing software.
#10. Check Your Persistent Apps
Did you know there are some apps on your Mac that just start silently whenever your Mac is booted without your knowledge? These are what we call persistent apps, which can be very useful, but also can be a breeding ground for malware. Thankfully there are apps to keep on top of your persistent apps such as Knock Knock and Block Block that will monitor all the spots on your Mac where persistent apps set themselves up.
Is Your Mac Infected?
Suspicious that your Mac’s security has been breached? There are a couple of ways to see whether your Mac has been infected:
- Your Mac runs hot
- Your Mac crashes
- There are programs appearing that you haven’t authorized
- Your Mac speeds up for no apparent reason
- Aggressive pop-ups appear constantly advising software
- Your web page links are turning into hyperlinks
The Bottom Line
Malware wasn’t something Mac users had to worry about in the past, but with a growing number of users, there has been an increase in Mac security threats as well. Cybercriminals are getting creative in stealing your data, including sensitive contact information and even personal banking details.
If you don’t want your Mac to become a target of hackers, you should really look into applying as many of these steps as possible. Some of the most important tips include installing a VPN, antivirus software and making use of the FileVault feature that comes with your Mac.