The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself
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More and more of our information is being stored on our computers, devices, and online. We’ve covered how to secure your iPhone Setting a Strong Alphanumeric Passcode and 16 Other Ways to Secure Your iPhone Setting a Strong Alphanumeric Passcode and 16 Other Ways to Secure Your iPhone The convenience of an iPhone can come at a price if you don’t secure your device well enough, so let us show you how. Read More , but you also need to secure your computer, especially if it’s a laptop. People can gain access to your Mac, private files, and sensitive information if you aren’t careful.

This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

Today we’ll look at 20 ways you can secure your Mac to prevent your data falling into the wrong hands. Don’t panic if you don’t use all these methods — some are better than none!

Disable Automatic Login

The automatic login feature on your Mac is convenient, allowing you to sign into your account automatically. However, it is not secure. You might as well have no password on your account (which is not recommended).

You really should disable the automatic login feature. To do so, go to Apple > System Preferences and click Users & Groups. Then, click Login Options at the bottom of the list of users on the left.

Next, click the lock at the bottom of dialog box and enter your password when prompted. This allows you to make changes to the settings.

Select Off from the Automatic login dropdown list. You will have to enter your password every time you boot your Mac, but a little inconvenience is preferable to someone getting into your account and accessing your data.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 01 Automatic login off

Protect Your User Account with a Secure Password

Now that you’ve disabled automatic login, make sure you have a secure password 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More on your user account. When setting up a Mac, you are asked to enter a password for your user account.

To keep your account secure, it’s a good idea to change your password periodically.  Go to Apple > System Preferences and click Security & Privacy. Make sure the General tab is selected and click Change Password.

Note: If you’ve forgotten your account password, there are ways you can reset it 4 Ways To Reset Your OS X Account Password 4 Ways To Reset Your OS X Account Password Let me guess: You forgot your OS X login password. Don't panic! There are four different ways to regain access so one is bound to work for you. Read More .

On the popup dialog box that displays, enter your Old password. Then, enter the New password you want to use and Verify the new password. Enter a Password hint to help you remember your new password. Click Change Password.

You should also password protect your Mac when it goes to sleep or when the screen saver begins. To turn on this setting, check the Require password box. Select how soon after your Mac goes to sleep, or the screen saver begins, to require the password to get back into your account. It’s a good idea to choose Immediately, especially if you’re in a public place, or anywhere there are other people around.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 02 Account password

If you need to briefly step away from your Mac, you can easily turn on the screensaver immediately using Hot Corners 9 Mac System Preferences You Haven't Tweaked Yet 9 Mac System Preferences You Haven't Tweaked Yet Whether you're new to OS X or a longtime user, there's probably something in System Preferences you haven't found yet. Here are nine things you might have missed. Read More . To assign a hot corner to starting the screen saver, go to Apple > System Preferences and click Desktop & Screen Saver. Then, click Hot Corners in the lower-right corner of the dialog box.

The Active Screen Corners dropdown dialog box displays. Select Start Screen Saver from the dropdown list for the corner you want to use and click OK.

To activate the screen saver, drag your mouse to the corner you chose. The screen saver immediately starts.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 03 Define Hot corners

Use a Password Manager

Practically all our information is online today, and we need passwords for almost every service we use online. With the following password guidelines you should follow, it’s hard to remember every password for every service we use.

Unless you have a photographic memory, you need to use a password manager You Need to Start Using a Password Manager Right Now You Need to Start Using a Password Manager Right Now By now, everyone should be using a password manager. In fact, not using a password manager put you at greater risk of being hacked! Read More . Many password managers can create strong passwords for you and store them. We’ve compared five password managers Is Your Password Manager Secure? 5 Services Compared Is Your Password Manager Secure? 5 Services Compared Unless you have an incredible memory, there's no way you can possibly hope to remember all your usernames and passwords. The sensible option is to use a password manager -- but which is best? Read More , including LastPass and Dashlane. If you’re concerned about the LastPass breach LastPass Is Breached: Do You Need To Change Your Master Password? LastPass Is Breached: Do You Need To Change Your Master Password? If you're a LastPass users you may feel less secure knowing that on June 15th, the company announced they detected an intrusion into their servers. Is it time to change your master password? Read More , we’ve covered the best alternatives to LastPass 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords Many people consider LastPass to be the king of password managers; it's packed with features and boasts more users than any of its competitors -- but it's far from being the only option! Read More and how to migrate from LastPass to other password managers How to Migrate From LastPass to an Alternative Password Manager How to Migrate From LastPass to an Alternative Password Manager LastPass is a popular password manager, but if you've decided to move to another solution, you'll need to export your data. Here's how to export your data into 1Password, Dashlane, or KeePass. Read More .

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 04 Passwords

Image Credit: iqoncept /Depositphotos

Make Sure Find My Mac is Activated

Find My Mac allows you to protect and find your lost or stolen Mac. You can locate your Mac, lock it, or erase all its data with your Apple ID and another computer or your iPhone How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back Long story short: my wife had her iPhone stolen when she misplaced it at work the other day. I was able to log into her iCloud account and eventually get the device back. Read More .

Before activating Find My Mac, you must enable Location Services. To do that, go to Apple > System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Click the Privacy tab and then Location Services.

Click the lock at the bottom of the dialog box and enter your password when prompted to be able to make changes. Then, check the Enable Location Services box. Click the lock at the bottom again to prevent further changes.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 05 Enable Location Services

Once Location Services is enabled, click the left arrow at the top System Preferences dialog box to go back to the main screen. Then, click iCloud.

On the iCloud screen, check the Find My Mac box at the bottom of the list, if it’s not already checked. Click Allow when prompted.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 06 Find My Mac

Now, if your Mac is lost or stolen, you can locate it, lock it, or erase it from your computer or another iOS device.

Make Sure the Guest User Account is Enabled

Why should you allow someone who stole your Mac to use it? The Guest account works in tandem with the Find My Mac feature. If someone finds your Mac, you can locate it if that person logs on as a guest (because that’s the only account they can access), and gets on the internet using Safari.

So, in addition to making sure the Guest account How to Set Up Multiple User Accounts on Your Mac How to Set Up Multiple User Accounts on Your Mac How do user accounts work on a Mac? Can users read and edit each other's files? What happens when you delete a user account? Read More is enabled, see the Make Sure Find My Mac is Activated section above to enable Find My Mac.

To make sure the Guest User account is enabled, go to Apple > System Preferences > Users & Groups. Click the lock at the bottom to make changes. Click Guest User in the list and then check the Allow guests to log in to this computer box. Click the lock again to prevent further changes.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 07 Guest user

Enable the Firewall

The firewall on your Mac is turned off by default. Isn’t that insecure? Yes and no. Your Mac’s firewall blocks incoming traffic to specific apps. So, the firewall is only useful if you have apps on your computer that you want to restrict in terms of incoming information.

So, you don’t necessarily need a firewall to secure your Mac. However, it’s easy to turn on if you want to enable it, and we cover how to configure it Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Dig through your Mac's settings and you'll find a firewall, turned off by default. Isn't that insecure? Why would Apple be so irresonsible? Read More .

To turn on the firewall, go to Apple > System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Click the Firewall tab and click the lock at the bottom and enter your password to be able to make changes. Then, click Turn On Firewall.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 08 Turn on firewall

To configure the options for the firewall, click Firewall Options.

You’ll see a list of apps and services that are able to receive inbound connections. You can add to the list using the plus icon below the list. You might have to do this if you run and app and it gives you an error saying that it has been prevented from accepting an inbound connection.

See our article Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Dig through your Mac's settings and you'll find a firewall, turned off by default. Isn't that insecure? Why would Apple be so irresonsible? Read More for more information about configuring your Mac’s firewall.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 09 Firewall options

The built-in firewall on your Mac only blocks inbound traffic. However, it doesn’t allow you to control outbound connections, that is apps and services that initiate connections. For example, if you download a piece of malware, your Mac’s firewall won’t prevent it from connecting to the internet and sending out information.

We recommend additional firewall apps Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Dig through your Mac's settings and you'll find a firewall, turned off by default. Isn't that insecure? Why would Apple be so irresonsible? Read More that provide control over incoming and outgoing connections, as well as which apps can send and receive information over the Internet. Use of a third-party firewall app can prevent malware from compromising your Mac’s security by allowing you to block outgoing connections in addition to incoming ones.

Enable Full Disk Encryption Using FileVault

FileVault is a built-in utility on your Mac that encrypts all the data on your hard drive. When FileVault is enabled, the contents of your drive cannot be accessed without a login password or recovery key.

FileVault is off by default, as most users may find that encrypting the entire drive is a bit overkill. The inconvenience of having to type a password to open a file and the extra time required to initially encrypt your entire drive may outweigh the security FileVault provides.

If you mainly use your Mac at home or in other mostly secure environments, FileVault may not be the ideal security solution. Consider some of the other options we present in this article. However, if you want, or need, the extra security, FileVault is easy to turn on and set up What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? Only by manually encrypting the files on your hard drive can you truly keep your files safe. That's where the Mac OS X FileVault comes in. Read More .

Go to Apple > System Preferences > Security & Privacy and click the FileVault tab.

Click the lock at the bottom to be able to make changes and enter your password. Then, click Turn On FileVault and follow the instructions to set it up What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? Only by manually encrypting the files on your hard drive can you truly keep your files safe. That's where the Mac OS X FileVault comes in. Read More . Be sure to store your recovery key in a password manager (see the Use a Password Manager section above). Your recovery key is the only way to access your data if you forget your password (which you should also store in a password manager).

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 10 Turn on FileVault

Create an Encrypted Vault

On a Mac, DMG files are usually associated with installing apps. However, you can also use DMG files as encrypted vaults to store sensitive files and folders. This feature is like using a program like VeraCrypt on Windows.

You create DMG files using the built-in Disk Utility app, located in the Applications/Utilities folder. Once you’ve opened Disk Utility, go to File > New Image > Blank Image and enter the information for your DMG file, including the file name in Save As, Where to save the file, and the Size.

Be sure to select the Encryption type and enter a password when asked to secure the DMG file.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 11 Create an encrypted vault

Once your DMG file is created, it’s automatically opened. It shows up in Finder and on the desktop as another drive. Move your private files and folders into the DMG file. To lock it, eject it from its desktop icon like you would any external hard drive connected to your Mac. To open the DMG file again, double-click on the file and enter your password.

Password Protect Files and Folders

There are other ways to protect the data on your Mac. You can password protect your files and folders How to Password Protect Files and Folders on Mac How to Password Protect Files and Folders on Mac You can encrypt your entire Mac drive with FileVault, but there are simpler options when it comes to password protecting individual files and folders. Read More in several different ways. We cover how to password protect different types of files, like Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), iWork files (Pages, Keynote, Numbers), and PDF files. You can also password protect folders using a few different methods.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 11a PDF Security Options dialog

Back Up Your Data

You can use all the methods we mention here to secure and protect your data. If your Mac is lost or stolen, you can lock it or erase the data. Then, what do you do? Your data is gone, right? Not if you’ve backed it up.

Your Mac includes a very useful backup solution called Time Machine. If you’re using a large capacity external hard drive, you can partition it first Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive To Store Files Too Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive To Store Files Too If your Mac's hard drive is small and your Time Machine hard drive is big, it might be worth using the drive for both backup and storage purposes. Read More , using one partition for the Time Machine backup and the other partition to store files.

Once you’ve partitioned your external drive, go to Apple > System Preferences > Time Machine. We’ve covered how to set up and use Time Machine Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive To Store Files Too Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive To Store Files Too If your Mac's hard drive is small and your Time Machine hard drive is big, it might be worth using the drive for both backup and storage purposes. Read More .

After the initial backup, you can automatically start a backup with Time Machine (check the Backup Up Automatically box). If you want to start a backup manually before an automatic backup happens, check the Show Time Machine in menu bar box. Then, access the Time Machine menu and start the backup from there.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 12 Time Machine backup

If you’d rather not use Time Machine, you can choose a different solution for backing up your data 5 Local Mac Backup Solutions That Aren't Time Machine 5 Local Mac Backup Solutions That Aren't Time Machine There are lots of Mac backup options out there, and many of them have features that Apple's default backup app just can't compete with. Read More . We also cover the ultimate triple backup solution for your Mac The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] As the developer here at MakeUseOf and as someone who earns their entire income from working online, it's fair to say my computer and data are quite important. They’re set up perfectly for productivity with... Read More .

When you need to recover your data from a backup, there are three ways to get your files from a Time Machine backup How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups It's really easy to set up Time Machine, the backup software that comes with every Mac — but how do you get your files back when things go wrong? Read More .

Check Your Security & Privacy settings

We mentioned the Privacy tab on the Security & Privacy preferences screen briefly when we talked about enabling Location Services for the Find My Mac feature earlier in this article. The Privacy tab allows you to control which apps have access to specific data on your Mac.

You can disable Location Services completely on the Privacy tab, but remember that Find My Mac will not work if you do. It’s better to just disable individual apps in the list on the right.

The apps listed on the left, like Contacts, Calendar, and Reminders, allow other apps to access the data stored in them. You can specify which apps have access to that data.

You can add your social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in the same place in the System Preferences as adding email accounts How to Add and Remove Email Accounts on Mac, iPhone, and iPad How to Add and Remove Email Accounts on Mac, iPhone, and iPad It's also essential to know how to remove email addresses from your devices for accounts you no longer use. Read More . On the Security & Privacy screen’s Privacy tab, you can choose which apps have access to the information in your social media accounts.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 13 Privacy options

The Accessibility section of the Privacy tab is different from the Accessibility options available from the main System Preferences screen. The Accessibility options on the Privacy tab allow you to control which apps can control your Mac in some way. You may notice that some apps may not work until you enable them on this screen.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 13a Accessibility options under Privacy

Keep Your Software and System Up to Date

Outdated software can cause problems, especially if you ignore security updates. Apple regularly releases updates for both macOS and the firmware which controls various aspects of your system to patch security holes that make your Mac vulnerable to attack.

Most updates can be installed in the Mac App Store on the Updates tab. By default, the system notifies you when system or app updates are available. You should install updates A Complete Guide to Updating Your Mac's Software A Complete Guide to Updating Your Mac's Software There's no one-size fits all maintenance solution, so it pays to understand how updates for your Mac and its software work. Read More as they’re released to keep your apps and the system up to date.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 14 Software update

Restrict Which Apps Can Run on Your Mac

Your Mac has a built-in feature called Gatekeeper What Is GateKeeper & How Does It Help Protect My Mac? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is GateKeeper & How Does It Help Protect My Mac? [MakeUseOf Explains] Will your favorite programs ever run again? Certain programs won't load anymore - a message about Unidentified Developers shows up instead. There isn't even an obvious option to run the app. Gatekeeper just might be... Read More that allows you to choose from where apps can be installed. You can choose to only allow apps from the App Store to be installed or apps from the App Store and from identified developers. To choose one of these option, go to Apple > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General.

There used to be an option for installing apps from Anywhere, but it was removed in macOS Sierra Is Apple's macOS Rebrand More Than Just a Name Change? Is Apple's macOS Rebrand More Than Just a Name Change? Dropping the OS X moniker, something Apple has been using for 15 years, feels like a big deal. But is it just the name that's changing? Read More . This was probably in response to a Gatekeeper vulnerability discovered in 2015. Some apps could bypass the Gatekeeper security feature completely.

You can still install apps from anywhere, but you must specifically approve each app separately on the General tab on the Security & Privacy screen in the System Preferences.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 15 Gatekeeper options

Apple also introduced System Integration Protection (SIP) How to Disable System Integrity Protection (and Why You Shouldn't) How to Disable System Integrity Protection (and Why You Shouldn't) There are more reasons to leave macOS' System Integrity Protection on than turn it off, but turning it off is easy. Read More in OS X 10.11 El Capitan. SIP is designed to protect the most vulnerable parts of you the Mac operating system. It prevents a user with root access (using the sudo command in the Terminal) from modifying certain areas on the hard drive where the operating system is installed.

The Mac has become a bigger target for malware, and SIP is most likely a response to the growing threat of malware 5 Easy Ways to Infect Your Mac With Malware 5 Easy Ways to Infect Your Mac With Malware You might think it's pretty difficult to infect your Mac with malware, but there are always exceptions. Here are five ways you can get your computer dirty. Read More . SIP is meant to keep Mac users safe, just like the restrictions in Gatekeeper.

Check for Persistent Apps

Persistent apps on your Mac are like startup programs in Windows This Easy Trick Makes Windows 10 Start Up Faster This Easy Trick Makes Windows 10 Start Up Faster There are plenty of ways you can fix slow boot times on a Windows 10 computer, but one of the simplest things you can do only takes a few minutes of your time. Read More . They start invisibly each time you boot your Mac, and remain that way while you use the computer. Some examples are apps that check for updates for apps like Google Chrome and Microsoft Office.

Although persistent apps can be useful, malware also uses persistent apps to sneak into your system and run without you noticing. There are places in the file system where malware can hide so it can be started when you boot your Mac.

It’s an enormous task to keep an eye on all the possible locations where malware can insert itself, but there are two free apps that can help. KnockKnock scans these locations and tells you what’s there. It’s not a malware scanner, so it won’t tell you if what’s in these locations is dangerous or not. But, Google search can help you research whatever is not recognizable to you or seems dodgy.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 16 KnockKnock Persistent Apps

The second app is by the same company that makes KnockKnock. BlockBlock sits on the menu bar and runs in the background. It monitors all the locations in which persistent apps install themselves. If an app tries to install persistently, a dialog box displays telling you, and giving you a choice whether to allow it or ban it.

BlockBlock is not an antimalware tool, so it doesn’t know which persistent apps are legitimate and which ones are malware. Again, you’ll have to do your own research.

Scan for Malware

There are other types of malware, in addition to the types that disguise themselves as persistent apps. Although Macs don’t see anywhere near the amount of malware that hits Windows PCs, there’s still more and more malware targeting Macs. Don’t get complacent. Malware has been known to attack Macs New OSX/Dok Malware Takes Over Your Mac: What to Do and How to Prevent It New OSX/Dok Malware Takes Over Your Mac: What to Do and How to Prevent It If you're a Mac user who looks down on "virus-prone" Windows users, the newly-dubbed OSX/Dok malware is a wake-up call. Here's how to prevent or remove it. Read More .

Your Mac already has a built-in antimalware tool called Xprotect, that’s always running, invisibly, in the background. So, antimalware software is not necessarily needed on a Mac, but it can’t hurt. If you feel better with extra protection, you can install an app like Bitdefender Virus Scanner.

Bitdefender Virus Scanner 9 Apple Mac Antivirus Options You Should Consider Today 9 Apple Mac Antivirus Options You Should Consider Today By now, you should know that Macs need antivirus software, but which one should you choose? These nine security suites will help you stay free of viruses, trojans, and all other sorts of malware. Read More is free and easy to use. It can detect and remove all kinds of malware including viruses, spyware, trojans, keyloggers, worms, and adware. Bitdefender Virus Scanner doesn’t install any system monitoring software that could bog down your system. But, this means you must run it manually to scan your system for malware.

Bitdefender Virus Scanner also detects and removes Windows malware present on your Mac. This prevents you from accidentally sending infected files to others using Windows PCs.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 17 Bitdefender

Malwarebytes Antimalware is well known app that focuses on finding and removing adware, which is hidden code in certain apps that forcefully shows advertisements on your desktop or on websites in your browser.

The free version of Malwarebytes Antimalware installed on the menu bar and must be run manually to clean your Mac. To gain the ability to prevent viruses, spyware, and malware infections and proactively block adware and unwanted programs, will cost you $39.99 per year for the Premium service. However, that’s not necessary.

Manually running Malwarebytes Antimalware periodically should be sufficient, as long as you remember to do so.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 18 Malwarebytes Antimalware

Use a VPN Service

If you use your Mac in public places, like a café or an office, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) service for extra protection. A VPN encrypts your data before it’s sent out over the internet. It keeps you safe by masking your online presence.

You won’t notice any difference as you browse the internet and download files. But, anyone on the same shared wi-fi network is blocked from snooping into the data being sent to and from your computer.

We’ve covered some of the best VPN services available The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More , both paid and free. However, using a free VPN can be risky 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Using Free VPNs Right Now 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Using Free VPNs Right Now Free VPNs are very tempting, but hold on. If you're thinking of signing up to one, you should read this article first. Here are the biggest risks with using a free VPN service. Read More . You should also be aware of five myths about VPNs that aren’t true 5 Common VPN Myths and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them 5 Common VPN Myths and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them Planning to use a VPN? Not sure where to start, or confused about what they do? Let's take a look at the top five myths about VPNs and why they're simply not true. Read More .

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 19 Tunnelbear VPN

Adjust Safari Privacy Settings

In addition to the Security & Privacy settings in the System Preferences that we’ve covered so far, Safari has several settings that make browsing the web more private. However, private browsing is not as secure as you might think. You can still be tracked while using a private browsing window 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing Private browsing is private in 99% of cases, but there are many ways in which it can be circumvented, thanks to browser extensions and hacks. Some of them don't even need all that much work. Read More .

Private browsing is useful for hiding where you go on the internet on your own computer. Others who use your computer will not see which sites you visited or items you searched for.

To enter private browsing mode in Safari, go to File > New Private Window, or press command+shift+n. In the private browsing window, you can visit websites, search for anything, and use AutoFill on web page forms. Your browsing history, search history, and AutoFill information are all erased when you close the private browsing window. Any items you download while in private browsing mode are preserved.

Chrome also offers a private browsing mode called Incognito Mode Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Chrome: What's the Difference? Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Chrome: What's the Difference? Chrome offers Incognito mode and Guest mode for private browsing. While they're similar, some key differences separate them. Here's when to use which one. Read More . Private browsing is also available in Firefox and we’ve covered add-ons that make the browser more secure Completely Secure: 11 Must-Have Firefox Addons For Security Completely Secure: 11 Must-Have Firefox Addons For Security Think about the browser you're using to view this article right now. Is it safe? Is it secure? You'd be surprised by those answers. Read More .

If you want complete privacy when browsing the internet, try some anonymous web browsers 4 Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private 4 Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private A good way to protect your information on the web is to surf anonymously. Google Chrome’s Incognito mode can help to an extent, but you should also look at the following web browsers. Read More or use Tor Really Private Browsing: An Unofficial User’s Guide to Tor Really Private Browsing: An Unofficial User’s Guide to Tor Tor provides truly anonymous and untraceable browsing and messaging, as well as access to the so called “Deep Web”. Tor can’t plausibly be broken by any organization on the planet. Read More .

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 20 Safari Private Browsing

You can also erase browsing history, cookies, and cached data from sites you visit in the normal Safari browsing window. To clear your browsing history and website data, go to Safari > Clear History or History > Clear History. You can also go to History > Show All History and click Clear History at the top of the page. The Show All History page also allows you to delete browsing history from individual sites.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 21 Clear History

If you don’t want Safari storing user names and passwords, or other personal data you enter on websites, go to Safari > Preferences and click AutoFill on the toolbar at the top. Make sure all the AutoFill web forms boxes are unchecked.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 22 Autofill

Use HTTPS Everywhere

When you go to a website, most of the time the data is transmitted in plain form, which means that anybody can access the data while it’s in transit. Websites like banks, webmail services, and online shopping sites, provide secure connections. You can tell you have a secure connection with a website if the website address starts with https rather than http.

Making a website secure using https is more complicated and expensive than running a basic website, but more websites are switching to https. You can add an “s” to the end of http for every site you visit, but there’s an easier way to do this, if you’re not using Safari.

If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, you can install the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project. The extension automatically switches thousands of sites from the insecure http to secure https when available, protecting you from many forms of account hijacking and surveillance, and even some forms of censorship.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 23 HTTPS Everywhere Chrome

There is no extension that we could find for Safari that automatically switches to https. However, Safari does offer built-in features that defend your online privacy and security, like intelligent tracking prevention, sandboxing for websites, and protection from harmful sites.

Check What You’re Sharing

There are many things you can share from your Mac, like files 9 Quick Ways to Share Files & Folders from a Mac 9 Quick Ways to Share Files & Folders from a Mac Sick of dragging files into email messages whenever you want to share something? There might be a better way. Read More , your screen, a printer connected to your Mac, and your Internet How to Share Your Mac's Internet Connection Using OS X How to Share Your Mac's Internet Connection Using OS X Sharing your Mac's Internet connection only takes a few clicks, and you can even set up an improvised WiFi hotspot without installing any third party software. Read More and Bluetooth connections. When a sharing service is enabled, it’s like adding a new door or window to your house. You can lock the door or window (require a password to access the sharing service), but that’s not a guarantee someone can’t get in.

You should turn off sharing services when you’re not using them. Go to Apple > System Preferences > Sharing. Make sure all the boxes in the On column in the list on the left are unchecked. Only turn on services as you need them, and then turn them off when you’re done using them.

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 24 Sharing preferences

Enable Two-Factor Authentication Everywhere You Can

Two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More is a method of logging in to websites and services using more than just your password. Two-factor authentication involves something you know (your password) and something you have (generally a mobile device, like a smartphone). You enter your password and then a code is sent to your phone that you must enter on the site to complete the login process.

Some sites use apps like Authy or Google Authenticator The 5 Best Alternatives To Google Authenticator The 5 Best Alternatives To Google Authenticator To improve the security of your online accounts, you'll need a good two-factor authentication app to generate the access codes. Think Google Authenticator is the only game in town? Here are five alternatives. Read More , available on iOS and Android, as a way for you to get a code on your phone that you enter on the site to access your account.

Most social media accounts How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication on All Your Social Accounts How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication on All Your Social Accounts Let's see which social media platforms support two-factor authentification and how you can enable it. Read More , like Facebook Lock Down These Services Now With Two-Factor Authentication Lock Down These Services Now With Two-Factor Authentication Two-factor authentication is the smart way to protect your online accounts. Let's take a look at few of the services you can lock-down with better security. Read More and Twitter Twitter Now Supports Two-Factor Authentication Twitter Now Supports Two-Factor Authentication Twitter has added third-party two-factor authentication for the first time, in a move that will keep accounts much safer. Previously, there were only two options. Here's how to do it. Read More , offer two-factor authentication, as do cloud backup services How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication for Cloud Backup Services How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication for Cloud Backup Services Cloud backups solutions can help you securely store your data in the cloud, but what if these services themselves get hacked? Enabling two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection. Read More , like iCloud Protect Your iCloud Account With These 4 Easy Steps Protect Your iCloud Account With These 4 Easy Steps Have you taken steps to make sure that no one gets access to your iCloud information? Here's what you need to do to make sure your iCloud account is as secure as possible. Read More , Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. You can even protect your gaming accounts with two-factor authentication How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication for Your Gaming Accounts How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication for Your Gaming Accounts Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection for online accounts, and you can easily enable it for your favorite gaming services. Read More .

The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself 25 Two Factor Authentication

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All Secure!

We’ve presented a lot of options here to keep your Mac secure. Use the methods that makes sense for you. Be aware and use your common sense, too.

How do you secure your Mac? Do you use any methods we didn’t list here? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments.

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  1. Carlos Alberto Teixeira
    November 20, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Excellent article. 1,000 thanks. And greetings from Rio!

    - c.a.t.

  2. Keith
    November 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    This is a pretty thorough guide, except I think you should include that people should use a Standard user account for their everyday use, not an Admin account. Use the Admin account only when installing new software or other actions that require an admin user.

    Also, Find My Mac, while it can be a useful feature, can also be abused. It can be turned into a form of ransomware. See lifehacker.com/disable-apples-find-my-device-to-stop-hackers-from-ra-1818618139

    Regarding Safari, I think it's best to untick the box 'Open "safe" files after downloading' in Preferences. I don't want any files being opened automatically for me. Safe files can be spoofed.