How to Change Security Preferences on Mac
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Why would you choose a Mac as your main computer? Because it's a hardware and software solution, it looks great, and perhaps, most importantly, it’s more secure than a PC. Indeed, Apple computers have powerful inbuilt security settings that will make you feel much safer while using macOS.
If you haven’t checked the security and privacy settings on your Mac, then now is the time to do a thorough review. You may be surprised how versatile the security options of your Mac are. Properly set security functions can even replace the functions of the paid third-party apps.
How to change security preferences on macOS
First, let’s review your offline security settings, such as your administrative password, logging in to your Mac, the inbuilt encryption and connection permission.
How to access security preferences on Mac
- To access your Mac security settings, click the Apple logo in the top right corner of your screen and select System Preferences.
- Head to the Security & Privacy tab.
- There are four tabs: General, FileVault, Firewall and Privacy. Let’s review them.
You may notice that the preferences are greyed out so you cannot click on anything. You need to click the padlock at the bottom and enter your administrative password to make any changes in your System Preferences. Only after that can you adjust the settings.
How to protect your Mac with a password while not in use
Let’s say, you turned on your Mac, did some work, then left the device for some time. It is not secure to leave your Mac open for everybody to see and access. That’s why it’s best practice to set up the password lock on your Mac. It means after a certain period of inactivity, your Mac will require a password to wake up. Here’s how you do this:
- Open the General tab in the preferences window;
- Select the Require password after sleep or screen saver begins checkbox;
- From the list, choose immediately: this way, your Mac will log you out and require your password immediately after you lock your screen or the screen saver starts.
Opt out of the automatic login
Your Mac can log you in automatically as long as you set this function up in preferences. However, this is not completely safe: without a password, anyone can log in to your account. To make sure they can’t, disable automatic login.
You will need to enter your password on every login, but you will be certain that only you can access your Mac.
On the same General tab, select the Disable automatic login checkbox. That’s it, you’re good to go.
Encrypt your disk with FileVault
FileVault is the inbuilt macOS encryption for your hard drive. Here’s how it works: you turn on FileVault, macOS encrypts your entire hard drive and protects it with your login password. The data then remains encrypted. When you need to access a file or folder, your Mac will decrypt it on the go.
This is a great macOS security tool, but when enabled, you may notice that your Mac is slower. If you can live with it, head to the FileVault tab of the settings to enable FileVault encryption.
In the FileVault section, click Turn On FileVault and follow the further instructions.
The encryption might take some time so make sure you choose a day off, or a day when you won’t be using your Mac too much to enable.
Block unauthorised incoming connections
Firewall is responsible for authorizing or preventing incoming connections to your Mac. Some applications, services or programs may need to allow a connection to your Mac to work effectively.
This may not always be safe, especially if a half-legit third-party app opens your Mac to an unknown connection for some unclear purposes. You can decide what apps can and cannot accept the incoming connections.
- Click the Firewall tab
- Click Turn On Firewall
- Click Firewall Options to manage the connections: you can either block the incoming connections from all apps, or allow the connection for the built-in or signed apps.
- After blocking all connections, some apps may not work properly. That’s why, we recommend allowing connections for both the built-in and signed apps that are approved by Apple and safe to run.
How to change your security settings in Safari
Safari is not only the fastest web browser for macOS, but also the safest one. Safari features some advanced settings to protect your privacy and the entire macOS system from the online threats. Here’s what Safari can do to protect you online.
Prevent the downloaded files from automatically opening
Safari in macOS can detect if any downloaded files are ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’. However, this setting is not always accurate, especially if a malicious file is disguised as a ‘safe’ ZIP file. So it’s best practice to avoid opening files automatically, even if your Mac considers them as safe, to avoid putting your system at risk.
- Open Safari
- Click Safari on the menu bar and select Preferences
- Go to the General tab
- At the very bottom, deselect the checkbox Open “safe” files after downloading.
The files will still download as usual and can be found in your Downloads folder. You can locate them and open if needed, or remove right away, if the file is surplus to your requirements.
Warn you when you are on a fraudulent website
Safari checks if a website you are visiting uses an encrypted connection. When you are on a safe website, you will see a little padlock in the address line. If the website doesn’t respect these basic safety rules, then Safari will notify you that the page might be dangerous and advise you to leave.
- Go to the Security tab in Safari Preferences
- Select the Warn when visiting a fraudulent website checkbox
If you come across an unsafe website with this setting turned on, then Safari will show you a full-screen warning before you proceed to the page.
Prevent websites from tracking your online history
Advertisers use cross-site tracking to learn more about you so they can show you more relevant ads. After browsing online for a car rental, you may notice car rental ads on the next website you visit. This is how the cross-site tracking works, but Safari lets you turn it off.
- Click the Privacy tab
- Select the Prevent cross-site tracking checkbox. Here you can also ask websites to stop tracking you online. However, this will not guarantee the website will comply with your request. At least you can try:
- Select the Ask websites not to track me checkbox on the same Privacy tab
Block all cookies
Cookies are small pieces of information websites keep about you. As a rule, it’s your preferences, login credentials, and browsing history when visiting a website. Using cookies is handy - you don’t need to log in to a website every time you visit it and overall, they personalise the browsing experience.
On the Privacy tab select the Block all cookies checkbox.
Keep in mind that this will remove existing cookies and log you out of all websites. In addition, some websites may not work correctly if you block all of them.
Clear your browsing history
If you decide to delete your browsing history, you can do it for a certain website or all websites at once.
- On the Privacy tab, click Manage Website Data. You will see the list of all websites with your browsing history.
- To remove the history for a website, select it and click Remove
- To remove the history for all websites for all time, click Remove All
- Click Done
Keep in mind that the Remove All option will also delete cookies, caches, downloads history, recent searches and other data. If you sync your Safari to iCloud, removing all website data will also remove it from your synced devices too.
Control the website behavior and permissions
Websites can show you pop-up notifications, use your camera, microphone or location. You can change your preferences so that the websites ask your permission before doing some of the above. Here’s how:
- Head to the Websites tab
- Select the Pop-up Windows option from the list on the left
- On the right, select the website you would like to manage and choose the option from the drop-down menu.
We recommend opting for the Ask option. This way, if a website wants to show you pop-up windows, it will ask you. Then you can decide whether to allow or deny the pop-ups.
The same steps will work for managing camera, location and microphone permissions.
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We hope our guide on configuring the security and privacy settings on your Mac will help you enjoy your digital life. Now you know more on how to stay safe online, dig deeper into what we call “The Internet of Us”.
Meanwhile, at Clario we’re hard at work on creating a first-class tech solution for your digital safety, combined with expert human support on call 24/7. We’re eager to help and support you, so stay tuned for more updates!
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