You may already feel that your Mac is safe because it of its great operating system. However, like any operating system, OS X can still be hacked and attacked. Also, like other operating systems, OS X has security holes. Fortunately, Apple diligently sends out Security Updates to patch these issues to make sure their users are as safe as possible. These updates are no good though if you don’t install them.
That is just one of the ways you can protect Mac, so by following these 7 steps to keep your Mac safe, you can save your Mac, or at the very least protect it in the event that something does happen.
The Seven Ways to Protect Your Mac:
1. Run Updates
Every time your Mac has a pop up alerting you to download a new Mac OS X Security Update, you should install it as soon as you can. These updates are given for a reason, which is to keep your Mac safe from multiple threats. You should be just as diligent with other Apple updates, for example depending on your browser’s security settings, an outdated version of Java can allow a maliciously-coded webpage to install malware to your Mac.
Other updates that come from Apple is its ‘safe downloads list’. This list is checked for the latest Mac malware when you download an application and then try to open it. To ensure that you have the latest malware definitions, which your Mac should be updating daily, do the following:
Go to the Apple menu, or your dock, and select “System Preferences“. Next from the main window click on ‘Security & Privacy’, and then ‘General’ tab. Here the screen is probably locked, so click on the lock (bottom left) and enter your password, once it’s unlocked un-check and re-check the box next to “Automatically update safe downloads list“.
You will not be given any indication that this update has worked or not, therefore, some people prefer using a program to run their updates for them. Two such programs that will keep track of all of your updates and download them for you are, ‘Safe Download Version’ which is a freeware app, or MacKeeper which is a multi-utility program that includes an automatic update tracker.
2. Download From Sites You Trust
All of these ways to protect Mac computers are pretty much common sense, and this one is no exception, in fact it is something you no doubt consider anytime you download an app. However, despite the warnings some Mac users download it anyway. Recently some Mac users have fallen victim to malware called Flashback. This malware application presents itself as an Adobe Flash Player Update from Apple, one that doesn’t have a trusted security certificate. Yet some have downloaded it.
Trust your instincts and your common sense by downloading and installing software ONLY from websites you know and trust. And, just say NO to a download from a site that doesn’t have a proper security certificate.
3. Install an Antivirus
Your Mac OS X is less likely than other operating systems to get a virus, and even if they do get one it is rare that it will cause serious damage due to a technique Apple uses called sandboxing. However, viruses are still out there and on their site Apple acknowledges this and suggests that if you want to further protect your Mac, you should use an antivirus program. Some of the anti-virus solutions that you can use on your Mac include: Norton AntiVirus for Mac, a multi-utility program including antivirus called MacKeeper, McAfee VirusScan, VirusBarrier X6, and ClamXav.
4. Use Apps in the Cloud
Another way to protect your Mac, and especially its contents, is to use programs in the Cloud. The Cloud is just another way for saying the Internet, and these programs are ones that you can go to a site and use, or upload your data to it for storage content and sharing. Some of my favorites include Google Docs, Gmail, Picasa, Flickr, and DropBox. Having your documents stored in these off-site (off your Mac) areas, can help protect you if your Mac is compromised, and/or your Mac’s hard drive ever has to be wiped.
5. Enable Firmware Password
Enabling a firmware password is one more way to help protect Mac from others getting in. When you enable a firmware password, the user must enter it before performing tasks like booting from a disk, resetting PRAM, and most importantly, entering single-user mode. Enabling firmware password is easy to do, but depending on your Mac’s OS version you will either have to use your install disc, or go to Apple to download the utility. For further instructions, you can go to the Apple support page at: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1352.
6. Turn off Remote Login
SSH may not be a term you are familiar with, but it is one that hackers know all too well. Basically, SSH is a powerful, encrypted command that enables one to essentially login to your Mac, and then move files, change configurations, and more.
This can be stopped, however, because whenever somebody tries to SSH into your computer, they need remote login to be enabled. If you disable it, they won’t be able to remotely access your computer. To turn off remote login, go to the ‘Sharing’ tab in ‘System Preferences’ and if there is a check mark next to ‘Remote Login’, go ahead and un-check it.
7. Choose a Secure Password
Although choosing a secure password seems like an obvious thing to do, not everyone does it. By having a unique password that has numbers, symbols, and letters, you can effectively prevent brute force attacks from succeeding. You should make sure that you have a secure password as the Administrator on your Mac.
Are There Other Ways to Protect Mac?
There are certainly more ways then these 7 to protect Mac computers, and most, like these 7, involve mostly listening to your common sense and intuition. Beyond that, you can also use some programs like an update tracker, or an antivirus program to fully protect Mac computers you own.