Over the years, Macs have earned a reputation as a more secure alternative to PCs. But it’s that antiquated misconception that puts new and less experienced Mac owners at risk. According to a recent study, Mac devices had nearly twice as many malware threats than Windows computers.
The reason is simple: Macs are more popular than ever before, and hackers have taken notice. That’s why it’s important to take a proactive approach to Mac OS security. Thankfully, safeguarding your device is a simple task for users of any skill level.
Defend your personal information and Mac computer before it’s too late. Here are the basics of protecting your Mac from the most common threats.
1. Keep Mac OS Security Up-To-Date
Since Apple doesn’t delegate software or hardware to third-party companies, Mac OS tends to have fewer vulnerabilities. But that doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Security exploits pop up from time to time, and you want the latest software updates to keep these things patched up.
To keep it simple, set up automatic software updates if you haven’t already.
To do this, click the Apple icon in the top-left of your screen, navigate to System Preferences, and select Software Update. In the pop-up box, access the Advanced options under “Automatically keep my Mac up to date.” Select every option on the list, then click OK.
Now your Mac device will download OS updates as soon as they’re available, keeping you safe from troublesome vulnerabilities.
2. Encrypt With FileVault
To protect sensitive information on your computer, such as tax returns or credit card information, take advantage of the FileVault. This program encrypts the data on your main drive, making it unreadable for thieves who get access to your startup disk.
Outside of a trivial amount of CPU power, running the FileVault will not affect the performance of your computer. So why not take advantage of this built-in feature?
Head to the Apple menu, find your System Preferences, and select Security and Privacy. You should see a FileVault tab. Select the tab, then activate the service.
Your Mac device may ask you to set up a password — which you should have done already. FileVault will run in the background and restart your computer once it’s done encrypting your personal files.
3. Prepare Find My Mac
Find My Mac is a system service that allows you to pinpoint the physical location of your computer, assuming it’s connected to a network. There’s no way of knowing if you’re safe from burglars or thieves, so why not use this feature? It also lets you reformat your encrypted drive from a remote location, just in case.
You’ll locate the Find My Mac service under the Security and Privacy section like before. But once you’re looking at the pop-up, navigate to Location Services and select Find My Mac.
There’s one caveat with this service: Find My Mac requires the thief to be logged into the device. Obviously, you want strong passwords on your user accounts to avoid this. Create a phony, freely-accessible Guest account to entrap any ne’er-do-wells.
4. Utilize a Password Manager
Most of the time, privacy issues occur because of user error. Think of the dozens of passwords you have across multiple accounts. How many are weak or repeated?
Probably most of them.
A password manager creates unique, powerful keys for all of your accounts. They’re encrypted and locked behind a master password. Although it may be a pain to type out, it’s the only one you need to know.
There are countless password managers to choose from, but Apple includes this functionality right out of the box. Try the iCloud Keychain and see how it works for you. You’ll find this under the Apple ID tab, which is nestled within System Preferences.
On the topic of password security, be sure to activate two-factor authentication whenever possible. This gives you a backdoor into accounts that could become hijacked, while also reducing the chance they are in the first place.
5. Improve Antivirus Protection
Let’s say you download video from Twitter. (Did you even know you could?) On a Mac, it’s not possible to scan the file afterward and check for malware.
That could be an issue if a virus sneaks past your built-in security suite. Thankfully, there are plenty of safe, effective third-party apps that can help. It’s best to choose one and scan your computer on a regular basis.
Now that Malwarebytes is available for Mac OS, that’s probably your best bet. But you can also enhance your security with something like CleanMyMac.
6. Audit Installed Apps
There’s no denying that apps make all our lives easier. But they can complicate them, too.
Some apps are malicious on the onset, designed to steal your private information without your knowledge. Others introduce unintentional exploits that put your computer at risk.
To minimize the odds of a security breach, access your Security and Privacy tab, then select Privacy. You’ll get a list of which apps have access to certain features. Remove and prohibit apps that access far more than they should.
Or better yet, don’t install these apps in the first place. Read their permissions carefully during the installation phase.
Keep Your Mac Device Secure
In an age where everything is kept online, it pays to stay secure. Improve your Mac OS security by enabling optional privacy functions and taking advantage of third-party apps like password managers and virus protection. You’ll keep your computer and data secure in the event of either a physical theft or online attack.
For more security advice, check out the rest of our site!