10 Tips to Help Secure Your Mac

Despite the number of security risks that Macs face, or any internet-connected computer for that matter, there are steps we can take to ensure that our computers are as protected as can be. While no system is 100% malware-proof, here’s some tips to help make your Mac more secure.

Updates

Probably one of the first, go-to tips for Mac users, and other platform users, is make sure that the operating system, and its core components are as up to date as possible; this ensures security patches and vulnerabilities are plugged. For Mac users, simply click on the Apple logo in the top-left of the desktop, then click About This Mac from the menu. From there, click on Software Update, and your Mac will communicate with Apple and begin the download and installation of any available updates.

Security & Privacy

The Security & Privacy options within the System Settings page offers a wealth of security enhancements. Start by clicking on the Apple icon, then click on System Preferences. Locate the Security & Privacy icon within the available options and click it. From within the initial General section you can set password restrictions when the screen saver starts, or when the Mac is awoken from sleep. You can also opt for allowing apps to be downloaded purely from the App Store or App Store and identified developers.

FireVault

The Apple FireVault is a disk encryption service that will protect the contents of your Mac’s hard drive by digitally encrypting all of its contents. Should anyone be able to get hold of the drive itself from within your Mac, then the information stored within will be useless and unreadable without the original user’s login details being entered. It’s worth turning this feature on.

Firewall

A firewall is a service that will filter traffic to and from a device to a network, or the internet. In the case of a Mac, it’s designed to either allow all traffic to access the Mac’s services and apps, or you can limit what’s being sent and received.

Privacy

The Privacy tab within the Security & Privacy options enables you to fine-tune what apps are allowed access to your location and data, and other elements of the Mac’s hardware. For example, by clicking on the Camera option on the left-pane, you can see what apps have access to the camera. Anything that looks suspicious, you can remove its access from here.

Security Tools

While the built-in defences of the Mac and its operating system are reasonably good, they don’t come close to what’s on offer from an accredited, third-party security suite. There are a number of security packages and tools available for the Mac, but one of the best and most highly regarded is Bitdefender’s Premium or Total Security.

Use a VPN

If you use your MacBook on the go, and are frequently logging into the many hotspots available around the world, then you should really consider using a VPN. A Virtual Private Network works by encrypting the data that’s sent to and from your Mac to the internet. Should any clever hacker have managed to hijack the hotspot, and are monitoring the traffic, then anything from your Mac, via the VPN, will be garbled and unreadable thanks to the VPN’s military-grade encryption.

Secure Browser

Safari has been improved on greatly over the last few macOS releases. With Big Sur, it’s even more secure than ever, but there’s still a lot that can be done to tighten the security further. Most popular browsers offer enhanced security modes, but some, such as Opera, Tor and Brave, have advanced security features. However, there’s a trade-off. With more security comes limited access to web technologies that, although are great to look at and interact with, aren’t as secure as they should be. This means a more secure browser won’t load some web technologies.

Passwords

We can’t stress enough the importance of having a strong, advanced password in place. A good password should be as complex as possible, involving upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters such as a percent sign and so on. Make it as memorable as possible for you, but impossible for someone else to get hold of and use.

2FA

2FA stands for Two-Factor Authentication. It’s used to create a randomly generated code that will be needed to entered whenever you use your accounts. For example, if you want to install something from the App Store, with 2FA, a message will be sent to another device you have access to – usually your phone – which will contain a unique code. To perform the purchase you’ll need to enter that code. Failure to do will stop the process. This stops hackers from accessing your accounts, as they’ll usually only have one element of the authentication process and not the other.

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David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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