Small Business Brief

Technology & Software

How to Make OS Safer to Protect Your Mac’s Privacy

When considering to use PCs or Macs for your business, you might have opted for macOS due to its reputation for better security over Windows.

It’s true that computer viruses do impact Windows more often than macOS. But that doesn’t mean that your Mac doesn’t have other security or privacy issues.

From the risk of having others access your Mac’s files to having enabled services that share your private information, you have more than viruses to consider. But luckily macOS makes it easy to tweak settings so that your computer and information stay private. 

Read on to learn how to make OS safer with these eight handy tips.

1. Lock Your Mac When You’re Away

If you don’t lock your Mac’s screen whenever you walk away, you risk having an onlooker spy on your device. They can easily look through your files or possibly change your settings. 

Know how to lock Mac computers to reduce this risk. You can simply use the Apple menu to lock your screen as you step away. You can also go into your user preferences to require a password once you’ve been inactive for a while.

You might even consider using a physical Mac notebook lock so that someone can’t take your computer if you leave it unattended.

2. Avoid Using an Administrator Account by Default

When you use the administrative account, you make it easy for someone using your computer to mess with your files and programs.

Instead, go into your Users & Groups and make a standard user account for daily use. For even better security, set that account to not automatically log in when you start the computer.

3. Use the Built-in Firewall

Your Mac comes with a firewall you can enable to help prevent hackers from connecting to your computer. But this may not be enabled by default. 

To turn on your Mac firewall, you can find your Security & Privacy preferences and choose the Firewall option. This will allow just authorized programs and services to have access. For even more security, choose the option to enable stealth mode.

4. Change Your Browser’s Security

Safari stores information about your site logins, visited websites, and other personal data. This website data can present a privacy risk.

Go into Safari’s privacy settings periodically to delete old website data. You can also make sure the browser prevents sites from tracking you.

Also pay attention to browser extensions you have installed and remove or disable those that you don’t use.

5. Check the System Privacy Settings

The Security & Privacy pane in macOS is a great place to boost your computer’s security. This is where you’ll find out which applications and services can see your location or access your data. You can also tweak what has access to your camera and microphone here.

If you scroll down further, you’ll find an option to control which apps can change your administrative settings. Be wary of giving a program this control since it can present a large privacy risk. 

You might also consider disabling the analytics options in your Mac’s privacy settings. While giving this access can help Apple make improvements to the system, your personal information may be shared in the process.

6. Disable Unnecessary macOS Services

The FaceTime and Messages apps make is easy to communicate through text or video chats. But they can also present a security risk if your camera gets turned on at an inconvenient time or if someone nearby sees your conversations.

If you can live without one or both of these, consider disabling them on your Mac.

For Messages, simply find the menu option to change preferences and look for your account settings. You will find an option to disable your account and log out of Messages.

Disabling FaceTime on your Mac is as simple as selecting “Turn FaceTime Off” from the app’s menu.

7. Install Updates Timely

Apple regularly releases macOS updates that will not only make your system more stable but improve its security and privacy. Your system may automatically install these by default or require you do so manually. 

To find out, look for Software Update in your Mac’s System Preferences pane. You should see a notice that your system is up to date or needs updates. 

For convenience, you can select “Automatically keep my Mac up to date” so that your computer will download updates as they become available. If you want more control, visit Software Update regularly and select the option to install updates when it’s available.

Also don’t forget about individual updates for applications you use. The Mac App Store has an updates tab that shows you any programs needing attention. Individual apps may also have an update option if you got them outside the App Store.

8. Turn on FileVault 

In the unfortunate event someone steals your Mac, you’ll want to keep them from actually logging in and accessing your data. Having a strong password can help, but enabling FileVault works even better.

This setting encrypts your startup hard drive so that you need a password or recovery key to access its contents. You’ll use your authentication method each time you start the computer and won’t be allowed to enable automatic login.

You can find the option to enable FileVault in your Mac’s Security & Privacy pane. Once you turn it on, you’ll get options to set FileVault passwords for individual users and configure your backup option. For example, you can configure FileVault to use your iCloud account instead of a password to reset a forgotten password.

Now You Know How to Make OS Safer

We’ve shown you how to make OS more secure, so get started tweaking your settings and enabling security tools like your firewall and FileVault. 

Know that you also have many more options for improving your Mac’s security beyond these tips. You can install a security suite, tweak the content that syncs on iCloud, and even try browser extensions that improve your privacy. You might also consider securely browsing the web through a virtual private network, or VPN.

Be sure to check out our other technology posts for more small business advice.