Although it’s a widely popular idea that the Apple Macintosh is “secure,” there are vulnerabilities that could lead to intrusion. Most Mac users live in a world in which they believe their computers and laptops to be impenetrable and therefore not susceptible to outside viruses coming in. This is a common mistake that can be detrimental for the health of your computer. By simply keeping in mind a few easy tips, you can help safeguard the security of your computer and continue to live your blissful existence without fear of viruses.
Devise and memorize a good password
Passwords are, by nature, not the best way in which to protect our data, but they beat the alternative of outside USB devices and the like. Most users additionally cannot be bothered to devise a password that is any better than their initials followed by their date of birth. Not too hard to guess for someone who may have access to that information. About 3 in 5 users also have their password written down near their computer, if not on a Post-It on the monitor. On most home computers and networks, this is not a big issue if you have an environment in which there is limited access to the computer. However, in office environments, individual offices are accessed after hours by custodial personnel or maintenance personnel. Therefore, it is integral to come up with a good password that includes upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a couple of characters that are neither. Use a helpful mnemonic and MEMORIZE it.
Bad password: jdoe1965 (username + birth year of user)
Good alternative: jAyD33!6t5 (mnemonic: “JD65” spelled with phonetic sounds and numeric substitutions)
Separate your account from the admin account
Most users we support in our environment want to be administrators, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. As soon as you unpack your Mac, the first account created turns into the master administrator. Use “Mac Admin” or some other name to fill out the form for the first account. Use a different password for your regular account and turn off the automatic log-in. Since you know the admin account info, use it anytime you’re asked to authenticate updates or installations. When you have serious maintenance or troubleshooting, you can also log into the admin account.
Do NOT enable services
The “sharing” tab in System Preferences can be the downfall of many Mac users, with most of these services listed as Personal File Sharing, Windows Sharing, Personal Web Sharing, etc. Most of these you will probably never need to enable, and never should. Most users additionally misunderstand what these services do once you turn them on, and do not realize they literally turn your desktop into a server. Many problems relating to Macs in office locations occur because someone enabled remote login and had a poor password; additionally, many hackers make their way into the admin account which made further penetration into the system all the more trivial.
This post was contributed by Megan Jones, who writes about the online college. She welcomes your feedback at Meg.Jones0310 at gmail.com