The rise in sophisticated cyber threats is forcing individuals and device manufacturers to reconsider their approach. And while it’s true that Macs offer superior security features, and many choose this OS for this reason, they’re still vulnerable to most modern threats.
With that said, small re-configurations of your Mac settings can improve your security posture even more, creating a near-unhackable environment. This article will cover some essential macOS security features, system settings, and recommended practices to secure your device.
1. Keep Your macOS Updated
Prompts to install the latest software or system updates may be annoying, but they’re there for a reason. Like other software companies, Apple regularly releases updates that include security patches and enhancements. Always ensure that your macOS is up-to-date.
You can check for updates by going to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update. It’s also helpful to enable Automatic Updates, as you’ll be promptly notified when an update is available (and don’t ignore these messages). Don’t worry – your device will not restart automatically; you can still choose when to install the update.
2. Enable FileVault
FileVault is macOS’s built-in disk encryption feature. It encrypts the entire system drive, making it difficult for unauthorized individuals to access your data. It’s particularly useful if you have an older Mac. Newer models with Apple Silicon and T2 have data encryption by default.
You can activate FileVault by going to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault.
3. Use Strong, Unique Passwords and a Password Manager
Protect your Mac and online accounts with strong and unique passwords. To simplify this process, use an macOS password manager, which generates complex passwords and securely stores your login credentials and sensitive information.
Apple’s iCloud Keychain is an excellent choice as it integrates all your devices, allowing for quick and secure logins. Aside from passwords, you can also use iCloud Keychain to store credit card numbers and other autofill information.
4. Turn on Firewall
Firewalls are used to prevent malicious traffic from interacting with your device. macOS has a built-in firewall that blocks suspicious incoming traffic. You can enable it in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall. Customize your firewall settings to specify which applications can receive incoming connections.
Stealth mode is another great feature you can enable in the Firewall settings menu. Stealth mode makes your Mac less visible on public networks and less susceptible to potential attacks.
5. Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts
Phishing is one of the main threats to data security. Phishing scams have gotten more realistic and sophisticated in recent years – especially with the hype of AI – causing problems for even the most tech-savvy individuals. Be extremely vigilant about such attempts. Never click on links or download attachments from emails or messages before making sure they’re safe, even if they appear to come from a known source.
There are many phishing link checkers online for you to check more safely, but use your own caution a well. Just know that Apple, post office, or other popular companies will never ask for your personal information like passwords or credit card details via random emails or messages.
6. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) significantly increases the security of your Apple ID and other important accounts. 2FA requires a second form of verification in addition to your password, making unauthorized access less likely. This could be a code sent to your phone or generated by an authenticator app.
Enable 2FA for your Apple ID by going to the Apple ID account page or through the Settings on your Mac.
7. Limit Location Services and Review App Permissions
App permissions play a crucial role in maintaining your privacy on your Mac. Regularly review the permissions you’ve granted to various apps. Apps should only have access to the data they need for their functionality.
For example, a photo editing app doesn’t need access to your location data. While location services are useful, they can pose significant privacy risks if not managed properly. Navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy to review and adjust location services. From there, you can also adjust other settings, such as access to your camera, microphone, photos, etc.
8. Regularly Backup Your Data
Consistent backups are vital for protecting against data loss from security breaches or hardware failures. Utilize macOS’s Time Machine feature or a reliable cloud service to back up your data regularly. Time Machine lets you restore your entire system to a previous state, which is crucial in case of a malware attack or a system failure.
Implementing these tips will significantly enhance the security of your Mac. However, maintaining a high-security level requires a proactive approach. Regularly review your security settings and stay updated on best practices to maintain a secure Mac experience. Be careful when installing new apps, especially from third-party sources.