Protect your Mac in 6 easy steps

So, you’ve got a new Mac computer – or you’re not quite sure if your reliable old Mac has the appropriate protection. In both cases, here are the six steps you need to take to make it safe from hackers, malware and other security threats.

For the sake of this article, we assume you are running a Mac. In case you are on a Windows PC, see the instructions for Windows.

1. Install an internet security suite

It all begins with the best security software possible. You will need a comprehensive, easy-to-use internet security suite that will cover all your computer protection needs in one fell swoop. A security suite will make sure that your computer stays safe from malware and hackers, as well as protect your internet browsing from malicious websites – perhaps the most important aspect of protecting a Mac.

We recommend our premium security and privacy suite F-Secure TOTAL. You can try it out 30 days free, no commitment needed.

2. Use unique, strong passwords and a password manager

macOS’s default setting prompts you for a password every time you log in. This is so for a good reason, especially if other people might have access to your computer (which is almost always the case, unless you keep your Mac in your line of sight 24/7). 

The password shouldn’t be too easy to guess, and definitely not be written on a Post-It note under your mousepad or the keyboard. It’s the first place everyone checks, and even security software can’t help you if someone has your passwords.

If you’ve reached this page, you are obviously internet savvy enough to know that you need a huge number of other passwords as well. You need them for your email, social media accounts and all the various services you are using online. 

Many recycle the same password on all these sites and services. Please don’t fall into this trap. If one of the services gets hacked, your password might leak out to the public and all your accounts are at risk.

Many services, even big and reputable ones, have been breached – and many more will be. You can check online whether your password has been leaked in known leaks by entering your email address at haveibeenpwned.com. You’d be surprised how often your login information can be leaked without you even knowing!

If you do not want to remember dozens of passwords, a password manager which stores all your passwords securely and lets you access them on any device is the best solution. There is a password manager included in F-Secure TOTAL suite, so it’ll keep you covered. The password manager will also help you generate strong passwords.

3. Update your software and keep it updated

No software made by humans is perfect. Numerous new vulnerabilities are discovered constantly, both in your operating system and the applications running on your Mac. It is essential that you keep the automatic updates on for maximum protection of your Mac computer.

You can find the automatic update setting in your macOS by going to the App Store and pressing Cmd + , (comma) to access its preferences. You can toggle “Automatic updates” on. This should be on by default.

The automatic updates in App Store make sure your App Store sourced applications are always up to date, and more importantly, your operating system keeps updated. Your Mac won’t update your operating system without your consent, so click Accept whenever you get prompted for updates.

4. Encrypt your hard drive

If you happen to lose your computer, your data can be accessed even if the thief doesn’t have your password – unless you encrypt your hard drive. You probably wouldn’t want anybody to go through your photos, emails and browsing history, for example.

There is a built-in disk encryption in macOS called FileVault. You can turn it on by going to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault.

Note that if you turn on FileVault, the initial encryption take a long time, even hours depending the amount of data you have. FileVault’s effect on performance should be unnoticeable on modern hard disks after the initial encryption. This will give your Mac extra security.

Now that you have encrypted the local data on your Mac, you should encrypt your internet traffic too. Every time you connect on public WiFi, anybody on the same network can potentially see all of your unencrypted traffic. Not many people know that their Mac protection is at risk every time they connect to their local WiFi.

There is also another threat in public WiFi in addition to privacy concerns, which threatens the security of your Mac. A hacker could potentially intercept your traffic and inject malware or fraudulent web pages to lure you into giving out your password.

You can encrypt your traffic by using a VPN, such as the one found in F-Secure TOTAL. When you turn on this easy to use app, the traffic leaving your device will be unreadable to outsiders and your connection can’t be intercepted.

5. Enable Find My Mac

The Find My Mac feature in iCloud is handy if you happen to lose your computer, but this is not its only security feature. If your computer falls into wrong hands, you can use it to lock the computer or even erase it completely.

You can turn on Find My Mac by going to System Preferences > iCloud and selecting the checkbox next to Find My Mac.

6. Enable Two-Factor Authentication for your Apple ID

Your Apple ID is the key to many crucial aspects of your computer and your online life. You might have added a credit card to your Apple account. Apple ID is also the gatekeeper to iCloud. Because many of us sync a lot of private information in iCloud, and as importantly iCloud enables you to lock or wipe your Mac, like we saw in the previous chapter. This is why your Mac’s security measures need to go beyond your Mac.

You need to make sure only you can access your iCloud account by turning on two-factor authentication in iCloud. Two-factor authentication means that you need to verify login from a trusted device (such as your phone), so your account can’t be hijacked only by gaining access to your password.

You can enable two-factor authentication by going to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security and clicking “Turn On Two-Factor Authentication”.

These six easy steps ensure your computer is protected. The core of keeping your computer safe is common sense and a security suite. You can try F-Secure TOTAL security and privacy suite free for 30 days. 

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