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Security tips and tricks for Mac

Maintaining the privacy and security of the data has become of the utmost importance for everyone, but not less relevant should be to guarantee the security of your Mac computer. That is why we have prepared this article of tricks and tips to strengthen the security of your Mac .

For some time now, Apple's ecosystem has become more attractive to cyber attackers, which has led us to face all kinds of threats and vulnerabilities in the form of malware, virus, adware, ransomware, or phishing, among others.

Apple is aware of this new situation, for which it has chosen to apply new measures to its equipment, such as the inclusion of the Secure Enclave coprocessor of the Apple T2 chip present in the new iMac Pro and MacBook Pro models.

This same chip is the basis of Touch ID, allowing secure startup and advanced encrypted storage capabilities. But these developments are given by the most modern Mac computers. What happens with the previous ones?

And in general, the user pays little or no attention to the security settings that an operating system like macOS offers us by default. Next, we offer you a whole series of tips and tools that you should review on your Mac.

We recommend that you upgrade to the version of your macOS whenever Apple issues security updates, such as last January 22 that solved a vulnerability found in the operating system.

In the event that your computer does not support updating macOS, it is interesting to use applications such as Hider 2, a complete tool developed by MacPaw that allows you to hide or encrypt data on your Mac computer.

The developer also has Encrypto valid for Mac and Windows platforms, with which it is possible to add AES-256 type encryption to a file that you will share with other users in order to share it securely on the network.

Check here all the news that macOS Catalina brings, the latest version of the Apple operating system for Mac.

Apple usually reacts quickly to the appearance of any type of threat, and sometimes, it may be necessary to carry out some type of change. With the malware Mac CookieMiner, Apple recommends deleting the Chrome browser cache after logging into your bank account.

Then, you will find a whole series of tips that will make your Mac more secure than before, in order to protect your data, your privacy and your computer and its connections.

Security and privacy settings

Let's start with the most basic Mac settings that you should check to ensure that security is transparent. To familiarize yourself with the controls, access the Security and Privacy panel of your Mac located in System Preferences.

  1. Open System Preferences. You can access from the Apple menu located in the upper left of your screen.
  2. Click on Security and privacy.
  3. Vers the tabs of General, FileVault, Firewall and Privacy.
  4. To change any of these settings, you must click on the padlock at the bottom of the screen and enter your username and password.

If you have an administrator account, you can make changes that affect the entire Mac. Otherwise, they will only apply to your account.

Activate the firewall

The first step to protect any Mac is to enable the firewall, element that blocks any unwanted incoming network connection. You may think that the firewall it is enabled by default, but often it is not.

Luckily, enabling it is very easy and we teach you how to do it on your Mac.

1. Click on the Firewall tab in the System Preferences panel> Security and privacy that we just opened.

  1. Click on the lock icon in the lower left to unlock the system settings (you must enter your login password). 3. Click on the Activate Firewall button.
  2. Then, you can access Options firewall and in the dialog box that appears, click on the Enable undercover mode box.
  3. Then click on the Options button firewall and, in the dialog box that appears, click on the Enable invisible mode box. This last step means that your Mac will be practically invisible to public networks, such as the Wi-Fi connection shared in a bar.
  4. Using the + symbol you can access a complete list of applications and services that can receive incoming connections. To add one to the list, try running an application.

It is important to keep in mind that the firewall macOS, although useful, offers only limited protection against malware It only protects from incoming traffic. Your job is limited to monitoring what applications and services can be accepted as incoming traffic.

Thus, it does not provide any control over outgoing connections, that is, applications and services that initiate new connections. If for example there is a piece of malware On your computer, the OS X Firewall does not prevent you from connecting to the Internet.

Fortunately, there are third-party applications such as those offered by large manufacturers of antivirus systems, which have tools anti-malware to do the job effectively.

Check our article on the 10 best antivirus for Mac in 2019.

Use a strong password

If we return to the first Security and privacy tab, we find the General option. There are three aspects here that you should pay special attention to.

The first one is the one that allows you to establish a password for the account if you have not already done so, or change your password if you consider it necessary. You must have a password beforehand.

Here you can check or uncheck the option to require or not require a password to unlock the Mac once the computer is turned off or the screen saver is activated. If you work in an office or in a public place, consider checking this option.

There is also the possibility of deactivating the automatic login, so you will not have to enter the password every time you start your Mac. This choice is completely discouraged, since anyone will have access to your Mac.

There is another additional possibility, through which you can use your Apple Watch to unlock the Mac if you have one. Simply use your Apple Watch (which is unlocked) to do login also in macOS.

Taking advantage of the fact that we are addressing the issue of passwords, we remind you that good and considered strong should be difficult to remember. You can always use the password manager programs such as 1Password or Kaspersky Password Manager. In this sense, the tool already mentioned in Hider 2 also functions as key protection.

Application download preferences

As you can see, within the same General tab that we are addressing, at the bottom of the bottom you can find two options related to the applications that can run on the Mac.

The safest option, but also the most limited, is to allow only applications from the App Store to run or install. The other option gives permission to run applications from identified developers.

In previous versions of macOS there was an option to allow applications from anywhere. If this option appears, we recommend that you do not use it. You can run an application that does not come from the App Store, but you will have to approve it beforehand.

Activate FileVault

With FileVault enabled, all files in your user account will be encrypted or encrypted. To decrypt them, you must enter your account password or the recovery key created when you activated FileVault.

For most users, the inconvenience of having to write a password to open a file, along with the time it takes to initially encrypt the data, exceeds the security advantages offered.

But if you have reasons to keep the data or information stored on the Mac safe by belonging to an organization, activate FileVault.

Check the privacy settings

The last tab you can find within Security and privacy covers several different controls and aspects. These are listed in the window on the left of the panel, as you can see in the accompanying image.

Location services allow you to control which applications have access to your location data. Here you can completely disable location services and prevent individual applications from accessing data.

Similarly, Contacts, Calendar and Reminders allow you to specify which applications on your Mac can access the information stored in these main macOS X applications.

If you click on Photos, see all the applications that have requested access to your photo library. If you have added social network details like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to the preferences panel, you can control which applications have access to them.

Finally, an option that was incorporated into macOS High Sierra was Anlisis, which allows application developers and Apple to improve their products based on data collected on the use of applications. You can decide from here whether to share them or not.

Configure Safari privacy

Far from the commented preferences of the operating system, Safari has several configuration possibilities associated with privacy. We will navigate through all of them so you can make the appropriate adjustments.

The first is New private window that you can access from the File menu or with the configuration of keys May + Command + N. In this way, you can browse web pages in incognito mode or private browsing without a trace.

The second is associated with Clear History in the Safari menu. If you use it periodically, you can delete the cookies and other data stored in cach of the sites you visit, making sure that they are deleted from the History menu.

Within the preferences of Safari, you can find various tabs of security aspects among which is Privacy. Click on it and you can prevent visited websites from tracking or controlling what sites they can store cookies of your Mac.

If you are concerned that the username and passwords of a particular web page are stored, go to the Autofill section and passwords. You can deactivate the different options of these services depending on your preferences.

Use printer sharing, login and remote management

Share printers: You can share any printer connected to your Mac with other computers connected to the network, including new Windows PCs. In System Preferences, go to the Share function and activate the Share Printer service. Here will appear those located and their sharing options.

Remote session start: This option allows connection to your Mac through SSH / SFTP protocols and, in most cases, is used by technical services to provide remote support through commands. You must deactivate it if you understand that it will not be used.

Remote administration: It is used in corporate or corporate environments to allow administrators to access the Mac to deploy updates or correct errors. In all other circumstances, you should deactivate it if it is not your case.

Apply password to firmware

The macOS system activates FileVault encryption by default in current versions, which means that the entire boot disk is encrypted and is impossible to access, unless you unlock it when you log in with your user password.

That does not prevent someone from using a USB memory device to start the Mac and potentially erase all data from the hard drive. The solution is to apply a password of firmware

Unlike the PC BIOS password call, the password request from the firmware Mac only appear if someone tries to boot your Mac in a non-standard way, that is, through a USB stick, or from another computer.

You must access the Recovery Console to activate it. To do this, restart your computer and just before the Apple logo appears, press and hold the Command + R keys.

Select your language and location when the Mac asks you to and then click on the Utilities menu> Password Utility firmware. Follow the instructions and try not to forget it because if it happens, only Apple can unlock your computer.

Enable guest user

The guest account, according to Apple's words, works with Find my Mac with iCloud, in order to help you find your MacBook if you leave it somewhere or steal it.

It allows you to locate your Mac if someone finds it, log in as a guest and use Safari to access the Internet.

It is for this reason that you should not deactivate the guest account, and if you do not have it, enable it immediately. It must also be associated with the iCloud account. Here we show you how iCloud works.

Scan for malware

Although it is true that there are more malicious programs targeting Windows computers than Mac, things have changed in recent years significantly. It still does not reach the same percentage of attacks, but it is already worrying throughout the community.

This does not mean that we strongly recommend the use of some type of antimalware software which mainly focuses on discovering and eliminating advertising programs, that is, hidden code in certain applications that aims to capture information to show you associated advertisements.

Thanks to the latest versions of macOS, especially from OS Mojave, computers already have a powerful tool antimalware invisible, always running, known as Xprotec.

However, for greater peace of mind, you can choose to acquire some of the security tools raised by the big manufacturers of the cybersecurity market.

Check here our report on Do Mac have viruses? Should I install an antivirus on Mac ?.

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