07 Oct 2013

Tips to keep your Mac secure

0 Comment

Once upon a time, almost everybody used Apple computers at home. Then the Windows PC arrived and took over the majority market share, winning that popularity contest for at least a couple of decades. While still commanding a relatively small piece of the computing market, Apple is resurgent, and there are more than 100 million users around the world at last count. And as we’ve covered before, when something becomes popular, it also becomes a target. It’s been a long-running joke that the best way to protect you from computer viruses is to use a Mac — the implication being that virus authors, much like video game developers, won’t waste their time and efforts on such a small portion of the user population. However, with the advent of Apple-specific malware such as the Mac OS X Trojan Flashback, the statement no longer rings true. Even though Mac OS X has traditionally seemed to be a secure operating system, we’ve rounded up a baker’s dozen of handy hints to help make your machine a veritable All of the 700,000+ Apple computers infected with the Flashback Trojan have one thing in common: They’re all running out-of-date versions of the Java browser add-on. Since software updates on Macs are a manual process, updates to tools like Java have to be rolled out by Apple itself — a step that can lag several months. The easiest way to get around this problem is simply to turn off Java from within the Safari browser, an option available under Security in the Preferences menu. Don’t use Safari? You can also turn the service off on your computer as a whole. Head to Applications > Utilities, and uncheck the Java versions listed in the General tab. On the subject of updates, make sure your machine is running the latest versions of OS X and Safari, as well as everything else. Apple takes pride in updating its operating system regularly, as well as other third-party software, so it’s a good idea to run Software Update regularly. Once a week is a good rule of thumb. Make sure you install all of the available patches and updates rather than just downloading them, since they won’t do any good just sitting on the desktop! To check for software updates, click the apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen and select “Software update. We’ve gone into detail time and again about the importance of strong passwords, but it can’t be stressed enough. Create (and use!) passwords that are at least eight characters in length, using both letters and numbers, and throw in at least one capital letter or symbol to make them even more secure. Remember to use different passwords for different services., they are going to try the same password on other online sites as well, perusing your social networks, checking your online bank account, and snooping around your inbox. Don’t make it easy for hackers to get what they want — use different passwords for each site or service. What good is a strong password if you don’t use it? Even though it’s a pain to have to re-enter all of your passwords every time you boot up your machine, log in to your account, open messenger programs, or access various websites, it really is the safest option. Otherwise, if someone accesses your machine while you aren’t around — a sister who wants to check her email, a work colleague visiting your desk, a thief who’s “borrowed” your laptop — they’ll have automatic access to all of your content. Sure, it means a few extra keystrokes for you, but it will make all your data more secure. There is a way to avoid constantly having to re-enter your passwords, and that is to use a password manager like Last Pass. Another one of these, Keychain, comes free with current versions of Mac OS X.To use a password manager, you’ll be asked to create a unique, strong passphrase and store that in your keychain, rather than trying to remember shorter, easier but more numerous passwords. This system is also very handy when you vary your passwords, as you should!

[top]
About the Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *