You have a Mac — but you know that doesn’t mean you are totally immune to cyber attack. In fact, as more web users transition to using Apple products, the incentive for cyber attackers to put energy into developing Mac-specific malware skyrockets. The sooner you take precautions to protect your Mac from viruses, the longer you can enjoy using your Mac without problems. Here are a few simple steps you can take today to make your Mac more secure.
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Install High-quality Security Tools
Already, macOS is a step beyond Windows in keeping cyber attackers at bay, but your operating system could use some extra help in an age when malware is more sophisticated and more aggressive than ever before. The fastest and easiest way to radically improve your Mac’s security is to install antivirus for Mac developed by a trusted leader in the cybersecurity space. Antivirus solutions constantly scan for threats, guiding you away from corrupt links and webpages and isolating malicious programs when they do make it onto your Mac.
Change Your Lock Screen Settings
When your Mac is on and open, anyone can access your settings and files. If you are in the habit of working in public spaces and leaving your Mac alone — to go to the restroom, to fetch another coffee, to chat with a coworker, etc. — then you might be giving attackers easy access to your device. You should consider changing your lock screen settings to reduce the amount of time your Mac will sit idle without requiring a password for access.
Strengthen Your Login Password
On one hand, the easier your Mac’s login password, the faster you can remember it and type it in when you need to use your device. On the other hand, shorter and simpler passwords are much easier for attackers to crack, and once they do, they will have access to your entire device. Current password wisdom suggests that your code should be at least 14 characters, a mixture of numbers, symbols and upper- and lower-case letters in random order. You might try to write a sentence from your password that is easy to remember; for example, “!h0cb2dwTtm2d” could be “I had no choice but to do what Tom told me to do.”
Enable Find My Mac
One of the most useful apps developed by Apple, Find My is a tool that uses GPS to locate any devices associated with your Apple account. When Find My Mac is enabled on your computer, you can use another device to find it nearby. This might be helpful if you believe that your Mac was misplaced or if you believe you can track down a thief. However, just as useful is Find My’s remote wiping ability, which allows you to erase all the data stored on your Mac, so the criminal can’t steal your identity or harm you in other ways once they get into your device.
Protect Your Email
So many threats find their way onto computers via email, so you should take extra precautions to ensure that attackers can’t reach you through your Mail app. Fortunately, Apple already allows users to enhance email security; all you need to do is enable it. By selecting “Protect Mail Activity” in the Mail app’s settings, you can hide your IP address from email users and load email content privately, both of which reduce your visibility to scammers.
Update Your Software
Undoubtedly you have heard this bit of security advice before, but it bears repeating. Outdated software tends to be riddled with vulnerabilities through which attackers can access your Mac and its data. If you struggle to manually update the apps on your Mac, you need to allow your device to download and install updates automatically.
Acquire a VPN
Like updating your software, you might have already been advised to use a VPN when you are using your Mac outside your home network, and indeed, this advice too is sound. Virtual private networks hide your device and data from other users on the same network, making it impossible for them to infiltrate your Mac and cause problems. Apple offers all Safari users a rudimentary VPN called iCloud Private Relay, but other VPN benefits — like accessing region-locked content — you can use a VPN through your antivirus provider.
Knowing your Mac isn’t immune to malware is the first step to achieving effective security that will keep you safe. By taking the other steps listed above, you should be able to avoid infecting your Mac with malware, even as rates of Mac-specific malware continues to climb.
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