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Mac Privacy Settings

Mac Privacy Settings: What You Need to Know

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If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are you’ve bought yourself a new Mac computer, or that you’ve either encountered a security issue with your Mac. 

Whatever your reason may be, we’re glad you did - simply because securing your Mac amidst today’s ever-evolving threat landscape is crucial to maintaining your computer’s longevity. 

Unfortunately, however, while using their Mac computers for work and entertainment, most users tend to forego the importance of configuring security and privacy settings, which puts their computers at a high risk to an arsenal of cybercrimes. 

Some of the most prevalent threats encountered by users include malware, antivirus, data breaches, and other sophisticated scams such as social engineering schemes, which, if undealt with, can result in a significant blow to the user’s safety.

In an attempt to help our readers in boosting the security of their Mac computers, we’ve compiled this post that dives deep into some of the privacy tweaks that users can make to secure the sensitive and confidential data stored on their PCs, and consequently, their identities. 

Perhaps the most crucial step that Mac owners can take to foster security on their Mac is to configure their user accounts properly.

Configuring Your User Account

To lay down a robust security foundation, users need to ensure that their user accounts are configured correctly. 

By default, the first account on Mac is an administrator account, which has a higher level of access, along with the permission to install software and make specific changes to the macOS, as per their specifications. 

While logged on to the administrator account, users have access to essential privileges, such as the Users & Groups pane, which prevents anyone from creating an account on your Mac.

Although the administrator account does offer a lot of privileges, we’d recommend that users create a second account. Even if you’re the only being using your Mac computer, being logged on to an administrator account for a prolonged period can pose some serious security threats, since hackers can gain entry into more sensitive content as well. 

According to a recent report conducted by Alex Williams, a freelance Apple developer based in London, “the majority of top UK web hosting services are compromised due to admin/user account permission issues. We found that Mac users are particularly careless with login and password information.” 

These issues can be averted with the creation of a second account, which allows users to significantly reduce the number of raw files at risk (by giving up some of the rights offered in an administrative account.)

To create a second account on your Mac, all you need to do is go to System Preferences > Users & Groups, authenticate your identity and create a new standard account. 

Having said that, while using the standard account, you’ll still be able to verify by using the administrator’s username and password. Always, the risk will be much less since the administrator’s account won’t be active.

Another critical step to properly configure the user settings on your new Mac computer is to ensure that the ‘Guest User’ option in the Users & Groups pane is switched off. 

Additionally, to prevent any intruders from gaining access to your laptop, make sure that your ‘automatic login’ feature is turned off as well. If you’ve got a friend who’d like to use your Mac, you can turn the ‘Guest User’ feature on temporarily, but make sure that you turn it off as soon as possible.

Use a Robust Password For All Your Accounts

The next privacy setting that you need to set up on your Mac computer probably comes off as a no brainer, but is a crucial mistake that many individuals end up making. Instead of relying on passwords like “qwerty” or the name of your family pet, we’d suggest that you generate a strong password for all of your accounts.

Moreover, Mac users also need to pay acute attention to the passwords that they generate for their user accounts since if anyone gains access to the password, they can take over their entire account, including sensitive data such as passwords and addresses.

With that out of the way, it is also essential that users create passwords that they can even remember, and store. One of the easiest ways to rely on the security offered by strong passwords, without having to deal with the hurdles of remembering passwords, is by using a password manager.

Always Remember to Back Up Your Data

With data breaches occurring at a startling pace, one of the most significant steps that Mac users can take to promote security is always to back up their data. 

Perhaps the easiest way to account for the importance of backup is to equate them with an insurance policy. Similar to your insurance, you hope that you’ll never need to use your backups, but they always come in handy in instances of cybercrimes. 

Fortunately, the macOS is equipped with a Time Machine, which is one of the most easy-to-use backup features out there. With the Time Machine option, all users need is an external hard drive or a network volume, and their work is done since Time Machine automatically backs up the data on your Mac computer on an hourly basis.

Furthermore, if users are willing to walk the extra mile for security, we’d recommend that you use two backup systems, in the instance that one of the backup systems fails. 

Combining two different tools, such as the Time Machine with the Intego Personal Backup, ensures that you never have to lose data, even in the instance of a data breach.

Secure Your Sensitive Data with FileVault

When first introduced, Apple’s full-disk encryption feature resulted in a slowed-down performance of your computer. Fortunately, that is not the case, which is why we’d highly suggest that you turn on FileVault.

As the name quite aptly suggests, FileVault is your Mac computer’s full-disk encryption feature, which ensures that no cybercriminal will be able to gain entry into your Mac’s drive, without knowing your password. 

Moreover, the FileVault feature comes in extremely handy in case your Mac computer gets stolen or lost, since it blocks any intruder from gaining access to the contents of your Mac. For business owners, FileVault data security ensures that your customer data is PCI compliant, which can help avoid significant fines later on.

Automatically Lock Your Computer When It Is Not In Use

Since your Mac requires you to enter the password when you turn it on, it is highly recommended that you configure the settings to need the password when the computer wakes up from sleep mode, or when a screen saver has been activated.

To enable the password requirement, users need to click on the “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins” option, which is situated in the Security & Privacy pane in the System Preferences tab. Once you find the button, select the “immediately” option from the drop-down menu.

Although automatically locking your Mac does entail the user having to type down their password quite often, it significantly minimizes the risk of your sensitive information falling into the hands of malicious agents. 

Moreover, if you’ve got a Mac computer with TouchID, the process of unlocking your Mac PC becomes significantly less time-consuming.

Frequently Update Your Software

A rookie mistake that we’ve unfortunately seen many users make is to stall the installation of security updates on their Mac computers. 

Although it might be annoying to receive notifications while you’re working on an important project, installing security updates as soon as impossible ensures that you’ve got the best possible defense against an arsenal of cybercrimes.

Although we would recommend against turning on automatic updates, since you don’t want the updates to take place while you’re working, we’d suggest that you frequently check for software and security updates, and install them as quickly as possible.

Limit Ad Tracking

A unique feature, that we’d recommend that users make full use of it and limit ad tracking on their Mac computers. 

To prevent third-party advertisers from gaining access to any sensitive information, all you need to do is click your way into System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Advertising.

Once you’ve reached the “Advertising” tab, all you need to do is to click on the box next to “Limit Ad Tracking,” and you’re done. With this option turned on, you don’t need to worry about third-parties exploiting your data. 

Final Thoughts

Towards the end of the article, we can hope that our readers will adhere to the privacy tips that we’ve mentioned above. As the threat landscape continues to grow ever more sophisticated, we mustn’t take security for granted, and take steps to ensure maximum safety on our Mac computers!

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