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A Practical Guide to Securing Your Mac

Tips • June. 15, 2022

Securing your MacOS prevents an unauthorized person from infiltrating your file systems. Just like any other operating system, macOS has privacy settings and effective security features that help to strengthen your computer security. That’s why it’s more secure than most other operating systems.

But this is not enough to fully secure your Mac from hackers. With just a few steps further, you can improve your computer’s security. And this boosts your confidence in the security of the files stored. Here is a practical guide to securing your Mac.

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Use proper Mac anti-malware

There was a controversial notion that if you wanted a computer less prone to malware programs, it is Mac. The truth is that Macs are just as vulnerable to cyber threats as any other computer. Even though macOS is relatively more secure than other operating systems, it’s vital to use proper anti-malware programs for your computer. Research shows that the number of malware threats targeting Mac has increased rapidly over the past few years.

There are plenty of options out there for malware programs. Some are paid, while others are free options. Do not simply choose a malware program because it’s free or you want to spend less. You can read reviews about anti-malware programs to determine which of them is better. Most of the paid options relatively offer better protection than free alternatives. They are also faster and lighter on the system resources.

Running a virus scan of the anti-malware software is usually a straightforward process, but it depends on your program. Install the software on the system, then decide whether you will run a quick or full scan. After that, adjust settings according to your preferences and run the scan.

Choosing a proper antivirus software is one of the best steps to secure your Mac computer from hackers. Apple does have a built-in antivirus tool that prevents installing potentially malicious software. But this free antivirus tool doesn’t always guarantee security if a malware program has been installed. That means most of the programs will have leftovers on the disk, which might contain some viruses, and the system might not detect them. This is a big threat to your critical files stored on the computer. You can check the best malware cleaner apps for Mac to remove them. There are various cleaner apps, so you must choose the right one carefully.

Update your OS and software regularly

You can often protect your computer from potential threats by updating the OS and software regularly. The new features improve the performance of security tools to ensure that all malicious attempts will easily be detected and blocked from accessing the computer systems. Sometimes the macOS updates, like the recently released macOS Ventura. It is being hailed as the most advanced desktop operating system in the world. Going by the seamless connectivity it provides across apps and windows and the latest security features, it will certainly provide the optimum security and productivity levels to Mac users. The updates may include major changes meant to improve the security features of the Mac. If you fail to update your computer, you will miss out on strong security features.

Most of the operating system updates are based on the research by the company. Hackers are advancing their attacking skills. They have all resources from the internet, and if a company doesn’t keep the security features of the OS strong, then it will easily be hacked. Updating your MacOS improves the coordination of your Mac processes. If you fail to update your software, you will likely be hijacked.

You will receive notifications about the updates on your computer, and you can install them immediately or schedule the installation for other hours. These are hours you are not actively using your computer as it helps you avoid interruptions. After that, restart your Mac computer to install any pending system updates.

Encrypt your files

Encryption is very important for the protection of your files. Thank Apple, your Mac computers have tools for encryption of the hard drive in macOS. It’s vital to note that those encrypted files are converted into APFS format before encryption. So, ensure that your Mac is updated as stated above to keep the tools for the APFS format working smoothly.

To encrypt your files, set up FileVault. Then, choose the Apple Menu. Click on the System Preference. Navigate to Security and Privacy, then click on the FileVault tab. Click on the ‘Lock’ and enter your system administrator name and password. After that, turn on FileVault. When the FileVault is on, you will be required to log in with your account password, which keeps unauthorized access out of your computer systems.

In case other users have accounts on the computer, you might see a message that each user must type the password before unlocking the disk. Click the Enable User button and then enter a password. All the user accounts you have added after turning on the FileVault will automatically be enabled.

Make sure you make backups

macOS is built-in with a backup tool known as the Time Machine. After plugging in your hard drive, set up your Time Machine to ensure that the backup process takes place automatically in the background. It will continuously save copies of your application, system, and other file applications. If you run out of disk space, this tool will automatically erase the oldest data files to create space for the new files.

So, you won’t have to keep clearing your Mac backup storage to create more space for other files. Connect an external drive to your computer to set up your Time Machine. Preferably, ensure that you have a drive at least the same size as the internal drive of your Mac. The Time Machine will, by default, use all the space available on the drive. After connection, turn on the Time Machine and select the backup destination.

Go to the System Preferences, navigate to Time Machine and turn the switch On. Click on the Select Disk to select the volume or drive you would like to use. There is still an option to exclude items or get notified in case the Time Machine is about to delete backup files for more space. After setting your preferences, your Mac is backed up, and the Time Machine will do its work. Alternatively, you can also use some other software-based backup options for your Mac.

Add two-factor authentication via iCloud

Two-factor authentication via iCloud is an extra layer of security on your Mac designed to ensure that you are the only person who can access the files stored in your account, even if your password leaks. With this method, you can only access your account on a trusted device or the web. When you sign in to a new device for the first time, your password will automatically be sent to your phone, or a digit code will be displayed on your trusted devices.

If you enter the code, you verify that you trust the new device. After that, you won’t be asked to provide the verification code again unless you completely log out of the device. If you are using a browser, ensure that you choose one you can trust so that you won’t face challenges when signing in again. Follow these steps to turn on the two-factor authentication code on your Mac.

Choose the Apple menu, then navigate to the system preference. Click on the Apple ID and then Password and Security under your name. Just next to the Two-Factor Authentication, click Turn On. Still, you can also upgrade to two-factor authentication on the web. Visit Apple’s ID website and then sign in with your Apple ID. Then, answer the security question before tapping continue. You will be prompted to upgrade your account security.

Check your browser’s security

The internet has a lot of useful resources that you can utilize to do your work effectively, but it can also be dangerous. There are lots of malicious websites that can phish your personal information and computer viruses that pose as legitimate downloads. If you are not protected enough, you might become a victim of rampant cross-site trackers infringement. Though, you don’t need to worry too much about protecting your Mac.

Browsers are built with features that keep you safe when navigating different websites on the internet. You should also play your part by ensuring that everything is up to date and set up in the best way possible. The first step to securing your computer from cyberattacks is updating your browser. Most browsers receive frequent critical updates meant to fix known security vulnerabilities.

You can also perform a manual check for the newer browser versions once in a while. Ensure that all the browser extensions are also updated to help boost the web browser’s default functionality. Obsolete extensions weaken your browser security, and it’s better to remove them or deactivate them when you no longer use them.

Adjust default security settings

Your Mac might have default settings that allow Apple and other apps to share and view information stored on your computer. And this includes data usage, location, device passwords, and access to your contacts. To avoid this, there are better security settings that you can adjust to make sure that your system is safe from unauthorized access. You can change login passwords for the current users.

If you forget the password, there are several ways you can use it to set a new strong password. A strong password should be hard to crack and be used on the application on your computer only. This means you cannot manage passwords for all applications to be the same. You can even adjust the screen lock setting to lock your Mac when in an idle state. That means that any other user must enter a password to be allowed to login into your account.

Adjust your settings to allow only downloading apps that come from the App Store or any other trusted developers. This will protect you from downloading malicious files into your computer. Only load system extensions from the developers that you trust and have tested their products. You can also limit access to system-wide preferences.

Protect your Mac with VPN

A good VPN disguises your data traffic online and protects your data from attackers. Unencrypted data can be accessed by anyone who is on your network. If you search online with VPN, its server becomes your data source. In this case, the ISP and any other third party cannot access your data on the Mac and see the websites you visit.

There are different ways through which a VPN works to protect your Mac. It disguises your whereabouts as the VPN servers act as your proxies on the internet. That means your geographical location data comes from another country, and your actual location cannot be determined. Most VPN providers do not store data about your log activities.

You can easily switch to a server in another country with VPN location spoofing to access content of high quality that is highly protected. Whenever you need to access your files remotely, you can ensure that no one will penetrate your network. If somehow, your macOS VPN does not work, you can troubleshoot it in simple steps.

Encrypt your data

Data encryption is a key security practice that every Mac user should adopt when sharing data over the internet. There are lots of software applications that you can use to encrypt your data. These applications will convert human-readable text into incomprehensible text, usually, cipher text. Data encrypted includes everything from payment to personal data stored on the Mac.

The encryption algorithm is hard to break if an attacker tries. It will require large amounts of computing power. You will have a cryptographic key, usually a set of mathematical values for all parties interested in viewing the data. The parties must use the key to decrypt the data and turn it into a readable format.

The more complex the cryptographic key, the more secure the shared data. This will prevent unauthorized access from accessing the data you are sharing on the Mac. You can use either symmetric encryption keys or asymmetric encryption keys. Each of them will guarantee maximum protection for the data on the Mac. Your emails will be secure as the information relayed through them is encrypted and secure from ransom attacks.

Conclusion

There are various ways to protect data and files stored on your Mac from intruders’ access. The tips above will guarantee your Mac top security and ensure that you won’t face challenges like any other user who is not following the practices. For effective security, you must ensure that all loopholes are sealed.