The Practical Guide to Mac Security is a complete course with 24 lessons that will enable the typical home and office Mac user to secure their Mac from dangers like malware, online account break-ins, data loss, and online scams.
The course looks at four main types of dangers. The first is preventing your online accounts from being compromised. This usually happens when weak password or simple security questions are used. The course teaches you how to create strong passwords, use password managers, use two-factor authentication and avoid pitfalls like easy-guessed security question answers.
The second danger is malware. You will learn what you should worry about when it comes to Mac malware and what not to worry about. But learning three simple rules you can protect your Mac from malware without needing any special “anti-virus” software.
Third is the danger of losing your data due to physical damage or theft. By backing up your Mac with Time Machine, using an online backup, or using cloud storage, you can avoid losing all of your data in the blink of an eye.
The last section is about social engineering dangers like fake emails, misleading websites, online scams, and other ways that malicious individuals will try to get access to your Mac or your online accounts. Simply by learning about these you will be more prepared to deal with the dangers that are prevalent throughout the online world.
This course is meant for casual Mac users who use their Macs at home or in the office. The lessons will allow you to secure your own Mac without needing to understand complicated computer techniques. it is an everyday guide for everyday Mac users.
An overview of the course contents.
The weakest point in most peoples’ security is their passwords. Almost all security failures are simply a matter of weak passwords. Learn what a weak password is and how to create a strong password. Strong passwords should be computer-generated random passwords. You should only ever use a password once.
When available you should also use two-factor authentication. When you log into a site you not only need to enter your password, but also a code received on another device or via text message. This is important for securing your most important online accounts like email, iCloud and more.
Using strong passwords doesn’t require much extra effort if you use a password manager, such as the one built into Apple products. Or, you could use a third-party password manager
If you are asked to enter answers to security questions for a website or service, you should avoid using real answers as they can be easily guessed. Instead, use random passwords which will prevent your account from being compromised.
If you fail to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication and your accounts are hacked, find out what you should do first. It is important to act quickly to avoid more damage and identity theft.
Experts and non-experts disagree on whether you need to buy anti-virus software for your Mac. But macOS already contains anti-virus protection that operates quietly and without any settings or controls. Often third-party “anti-virus” software is just a waste of money that causes more problems and should be avoided.
To keep your Mac free of malware you need to follow three simple rules: Don’t download software from sites you don’t trust, keep your Mac up-to-date, and stay informed. Find out how to follow these three rules and stick to them.
macOS will try to stop you from downloading and installing software that is not from the Mac App Store or has not been signed by registered developers. Learn how this protects you and how to get around the protection if you need to.
Each person using a Mac should be logged into their own account. Doing so will protect you from security issues and make your Mac experience better. Anyone else you let use your Mac should be using a Guest account.
If you are connecting to Wi-Fi away from home or work you should be using a VPN. This keeps your online transactions safe and secure from compromised Wi-Fi systems and on-the-air snooping.
Just because an email looks like it comes from a service you use, doesn’t mean that it is from that service. It is easy for email to be faked in order to get you to hand over your passwords and other personal information. Find out how to protect yourself from this very common scam security weak point.
Other scams will use fake web ads and unsolicited phone calls to try to gain access to your Mac or online accounts. Learn how to recognize and avoid these scams.
The web is teeming with scams. Classified sites and shopping sites, while legitimate, may harbor malicious threats in the form of common cons and scams.
Great overall security protection is provided simply by backing up. In addition, this protects you from physical disasters, theft, or simply your own mistakes. Every Mac user should get an inexpensive backup drive and start using Mac’s built-in backup system.
If you use cloud storage, such as iCloud Drive or Dropbox, then you have a certain amount of protection since the files live on remove servers. This can make recovering from a physical disaster or theft very easy.
MacBook users should consider using macOS’s built-in encryption. This prevents someone from stealing your Mac and accessing your data. Without FileVault, it is possible from someone to get to your data even if they can’t log on to your Mac.
Local backups are easy and provide a lot of protection, but online backups provide off-site backups which will protect you in case both your Mac and local backup are destroyed or stolen. They are also handy for users who travel often.
A simply battery system can protect your Mac from short power outages and let you gracefully shut down your Mac in the case of longer ones. A UPS can also be used on your Wi-Fi system to prolong your Internet connection in case of a power failure.
If your Mac is stolen you may be able to track it if you have enabled the Find My Mac feature. This will also let you remotely wipe your Mac in some cases.
Old-fashioned file sharing can still be useful at home or work, but it opens up a security vulnerability if you connect to a public network.
You may not think it is important to set a Wi-Fi password in your home. But without one, the data being sent from your Mac and other devices may by unencrypted and easy for someone to snoop. You should set a password and also be wary of public Wi-Fi that does not require a password.
The Private Window feature in Safari is handy, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. It does not really provide any security or hide your browsing activity from your ISP or work IT department.
Before you sell or give away your Mac, you should log out of all of your accounts, wipe the hard drive and re-install the original operating system that came with your Mac. You can do this by booting in a special Internet Recovery mode.
Gary Rosenzweig is an Internet entrepreneur, software developer, and technology writer. He runs CleverMedia, Inc., which produces websites, computer games, apps, and podcasts.
CleverMedia’s largest site, MacMost.com, features more than 1,000 video tutorials for Apple enthusiasts. It includes many videos on using Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Gary has written more than 30 mass-market computer books, including the best-selling book My iPad, The MacMost Guide to Switching to the Mac, My Pages, ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University, and Special Edition Using Director MX. He also has self-published titles such as 101 Mac Tips and The Practical Guide to Mac Security.
Gary has a computer science degree from Drexel University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.