Most of us Mac users think of ourselves as residents of a different universe, one that does not have the same dangers expected by our Windows brethren. Unfortunately, malware exists for Mac users, too, and we need to take a few precautions. Here is what I recommend that Windows switchers to the Mac, friends, family, and co-workers do to add a few more layers of security. You know. Just in case.
Turn On The Firewall – Even Apple knows the Mac is more secure than Windows and leaves the built-in software firewall off by default. Turn it on. Open System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, click Firewall, click the padlock to make changes, click Turn On Firewall. Options let you select specific applications and Enable Stealth Mode.
Password – Use one and don’t make it easy. Use at least eight characters, preferably a mix of uppercase and lowercase, but you can arrange them to be an easier to remember phrase. Then, go to Security & Privacy again, make sure a password is required to use your Mac when it starts up and disable automatic login.
Privacy – Also in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Preferences you’ll see options for various Mac apps that are given access to data on your Mac. Choose wisely. Likewise, Safari has similar settings. Open Safari’s Preferences, click Privacy and make sure to check settings on Cookies and Website data and Website tracking.
FileVault – Use your password and turn on FileVault and it becomes almost impossible for even the F.B.I. to get into your Mac. FileVault is in Security & Privacy, too. Do not lose your password or recovery key. If you do, neither Apple nor God can help to unlock your Mac. It’s safe and secure, though. Even from you.
Firmware Password – This is different than a password to unlock your Mac. Thieves often use an external disk drive to gain access to a stolen or lost Mac, but the firmware password prevents that, too. Apple Support has the details.
Anti-Malware Apps – Yes, malware exists and Mac users can be phished out of house and home, so if you must have an extra layer of safety and you don’t mind the extra effort, I recommend AVG’s AntiVirus Free. First, it’s free. First, it’s free. And, that’s about it. Chances are very good it won’t find much unless you share files and documents with Windows PC users. If you want more protection and don’t mind a price tag, Malwarebytes for the Mac is a worthy contender. Just don’t expect these tools to find much.
Find My Mac – This works on iPhone and iPad, too, and it’s a good way to track down a Mac should someone walk away with it or you accidentally leave it behind at an airport. If you’ve done most of the items above this should be a last resort as it’s likely the thief is having trouble getting into the Mac anyway.
Perhaps sometime in 2018 Apple will introduce new Macs with Face ID facial recognition built in; similar to what comes with iPhone X. Even with that extra layer and convenience, the items above are time honored and necessary if you’re a bit paranoid about Mac security.