11 Foolproof Ways to Make Your Mac Secure

11 Foolproof Ways to Make Your Mac Secure

"What, me worry?" Well, maybe you should - it's a wild, wild Web out there.


If you think OS X is secure enough as it is, you're probably not looking at the bigger picture. No matter how much more secure your Mac is compared to a Windows PC, no machine is totally immune. You still need to be alert and vigilant when you venture past the safer confines of OS X and out onto the Internet. With our tips, you can think different by being more secure.


One of the many joys of using a Mac is not being plagued by the constant onslaught of viruses and security patches that our Windows-using friends must tolerate just to get through the day. Ask a Mac user what he does about security and he'll probably brag about doing nothing. We understand security can be a real buzzkill - and we're not donning our tinfoil hats yet. It's just that we expose ourselves to more and more risks as we continue moving into the uncharted territory of working - and living - online. Hackers, virus writers, and scam artists make it their business to come up with new ways to commit cybercrime and wreak havoc on the Web and on people's individual machines - yes, even Macs.


Know Your Enemy. The two major types of security risks are inbound and outbound. Inbound threats are direct attacks on your computer, either through hacking or with malicious programs like viruses and worms. Outbound threats involve malicious software that has been unwittingly installed on your machine in hopes of transmitting confidential and personal data through snooping, fraud, or theft.


Hackers, viruses, and other security threats do the most damage when they have unlimited access to your Mac. They rely on system vulnerabilities, like an easy-to-guess password or an insecure network port. By default, OS X is configured with these holes closed. Compare that to Windows, which forces users to close security gaps themselves or to have someone do it for them.


Viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware - collectively known as malware - are household words to Windows users. According to the McAfee Avert Labs, in March there were more than 236,000 known malware programs, and only seven of them targeted OS X. (A bizarre footnote to this is that some Windows apologists are likely to see this as a selling point!) Still, before you gloat about having the good sense to use a Mac, you should know that malware isn't unheard of on the Mac OS. Windows and OS X are permission-based operating systems. That means that software, like users, needs administrative privileges to access sensitive parts of the OS. Before Vista, most Windows programs had administrative privileges by default. But in OS X, apps do not have such privileges. Theoretically, you could override such settings and make your Mac a viable breeding ground for viruses.


Most network traffic travels "in the clear," meaning it's not encrypted. When you're on a network - which you are when you're surfing the Web - a snooper employing one of the many readily available packet sniffers could easily "eavesdrop on" and capture what you're sending and receiving, including passwords.






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Free Antivirus

Its interest. Its a big problem now how protect the PC!


Neil Anderson

I launched the AirPort Admin Utility and setup a WEP password for my AirPort Base Station. Thanks!



Your WEP password can be cracked in under an hour using old technology. It can be cracked in a matter of minutes with current technology. Forget that WEP exists. Use WPA instead.



I don't know where you're getting this absurd idea from.

Mail doesn't do TLS over POP3, but it does just about every other form of encryption.


Use Thunderbird if it pleases you--and don't, incidentally, have your mail passwords stored in the keychain but in the application, which is far less secure--but what you're claiming is quite false.


Brian Maggi

You are correct about OS X Mail and support for other forms of encryption.

However, I'm not sure what you're referring to as the "absurd idea". There isn't any mention or claim of TLS support in OS X Mail in the article, or in the post clarification.



Your report states that OS X's Mail application doesn't supported secure authentication, but Thunderbird does. This is incorrect; Mail has had SSL encryption for several years.



Leslie Ayers

Right, Apple Mail does support SSL for sending and receiving, but it does not encrypt your password by default. Your ISP/email provider has to have SSL enabled on the POP, IMAP, and SMTP servers. Most have it implemented on their HTTP servers (WebMail uses HTTP), but not necessarily the POP, IMAP, or SMTP servers.


Also, when you launch Apple Mail, it automatically checks for new mail. So if you're not on a secure network, or haven't set up SSL, your password will be sent in the clear.


Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the confusion!



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