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Safe and sound: securing Mountain Lion

Neal Wise | April 18, 2013
Let’s have a look at what basic steps we’d recommend to secure a Mountain Lion installation. These are similar to what we’ve done in the past with Lion, Snow Leopard and so on, but subtle changes to System Preferences may have added, removed or relocated some of the security controls we previously considered.


The final pane in the Security & Privacy preference panel is Privacy. This pane contains configuration for permitting applications to access data and resources available to your Mac.

The first option is Location Services. As with iOS devices, Location Services uses resources available to your Mac to attempt to determine your location. This functionality has been used for several years on OS X at installation to determine your time zone.

Given that we all generally know what large geographic area we are in (and can select that ourselves) it's pretty obvious that someone is noting - or attempting to note - where you are when you install or register your Mac. Still, like on the iPhone, Location Services is also used for the Find My device service - in this case Find My Mac. So, if you want that feature, you'll have to leave it on.

The next option, Contacts, is also where you'll control what applications are permitted access to your contact information used by the Contacts application.

This is something you should periodically review. Some applications - instant message applications, phone diallers, etc - may require access to your contact details to operate. Be wary of trusting this too much. One of the applications is One of our Dashboard widgets is used for printing mailing labels (and needs access to Contact data). But do all of our Dashboard widgets need this access?

This is also the same with a web browser. We may want to allow Location Services when using a maps website. We may not want to have that enabled all that time for any website to use.

The final option is Diagnostics & Usage. This isn't very 'Team Apple' of us, but we never enable this option on either OS X or iOS. It's mainly because when we review crash reports or other error output that our Macs want to send to Apple (or iTunes on behalf of our iPhones) we can see system information that we feel may be user identifiable.

It's probably OK to share your diagnostic information with the vendor of your operating system. So you should make your own risk decision here. It's just us being overly paranoid but, as 'they' say, it may not be paranoia... someone may be out to get you.



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