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Maximum security tricks for your Mac

Keir Thomas | July 11, 2016
We tend to frown upon those who take computer extremely seriously but there’s a lot we can learn from them too.

Maximum Security tricks for your Mac

We tend to frown upon those who take computer extremely seriously but there's a lot we can learn from them too. In fact, we've picked out 11 tricks that security experts consider to be the bare essentials if you want to protect your data, both on your Mac and on the wider Internet.

Best of all, none of the tricks are particularly difficult to implement and we keep things simple and not get bogged down in tedious security terminology.

So what are you waiting for? Now's the time to lock down your system and keep hackers away. 

Enable the Firewall

Let's start with the real basics. The first step to securing any Mac is enabling the firewall, which blocks any unwanted incoming network connections. You might think the firewall is enabled by default but it often isn't (and, no, we have no idea why it isn't). Luckily, enabling it is dead easy and doing so is entirely wise. Just open System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, and then click the Firewall tab. Click the padlock icon at the bottom left to unlock system settings (you'll need to type your login password when prompted), and then click the Turn On Firewall button. Then click the Firewall Options button and, in the dialog box that appears, click the Enable Stealth Mode box. This last step means your computer will be largely invisible on public networks, such as shared Wi-Fi in a cafe.

Some people chose to block outgoingnetwork connections too, so that certain apps can't "phone home" without their knowledge. This also means accidentally-installed malware is unable to leak your data without you being made aware. OS X/macOS offers no built-in way of blocking outgoing connections but third-party apps like Little Snitch and Hands Off do the job with aplomb. 

Check what you're sharing

Your Mac is able to share files with other Macs, and can share data in various other ways too - including sharing the whole screen to facilitate remote working. Once a sharing service is enabled it's like fitting a new door or window to your house. Yes, that door or window might be considered secure - people will need a password to utilise screen sharing, for example - but there might be a flaw in the door or window that makes it not quite as impenetrable as you might think. In simple terms, it's a good idea to turn off any sharing service you're not using, and the majority of Macs used in the home environment should have all sharing services turned off.

To do so, open System Preferences and click the Sharing icon. Look at the list on the left, and look closely for any checks in the boxes beneath the On heading. Remove any checks you see but if in doubt take a look at the following list to make absolutely sure you're OK disabling that particular sharing service:

 

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