How to Quickly Secure Your Mac

Enabling You Mac's Built-in Security Features Only Takes a Few Minutes

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Mac OS X is capable of providing robust security right out of the box; however, some of OS X’s best security features are disabled by default, requiring the user to set them up. This guide will walk you through the configuration of the most important settings you need to make your Mac more secure.

To access the Mac OS X security settings, click the “System Preferences” icon from the Mac OS X dock at the bottom of your screen.

Choose the “Security” icon from the “Personal” settings area.

Note: If any of the options is grayed out, click the padlock icon at the bottom of each settings page.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5-10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Require a Password on Login and for Screensaver Deactivation. These settings require a system password to be entered before use of the system or when returning from the screen saver or waking up from sleep mode.

    From the “General” tab, choose the following options:
     
    • Check the box for “Require Password after Sleep or Screen Saver Begins” and choose “Immediately” from the drop down menu.
    • Check the box for “Disable Automatic Login.”
    • Check the box for “Use Secure Virtual Memory.”
  2. Enable FileVault Data Encryption. FileVault secures and encrypts the contents of the home folder so that no one other than the owner can access the data, even if the hard drive is removed and connected to another Mac or PC.

    From the “FileVault” tab, choose the following:
     
    • Create a Master Password by clicking on the “Set Master Password” button under the FileVault menu tab.
    • Enter the password you would like to use as your Master Password in the “Master Password” box and verify it in the "Verify box."
    • Add a password hint in the “Hint” box.
    • Click the “Turn File Vault On” button.
  1. Turn On the Mac OS X Firewall. The OS X firewall can selectively block inbound and outbound connections and allows the user to choose which connections are permitted or denied. The user can approve or deny connections on a temporary or permanent basis.

    From the “Firewall” tab of the Security Menu, choose the following:
     
    • Click the “Start” button to turn the Firewall on.

    Tips:

    1. Optionally, you can choose to have OS X log out the current user after a set number of minutes of inactivity, disable location services, and disable the infrared remote sensor by checking the appropriate boxes in the "General" Tab.
    2. To make your Mac more difficult for Hackers to find, Check the box for “Enable stealth mode” in the Firewall tab. This option will prevent your Mac from responding to Ping requests from port scanning malware.
    3. To keep the Firewall from constantly asking if an application can access the network, check the box for “Automatically allow signed software to receive incoming connections."
    4. To lock all security settings so that other users cannot change them, click the padlock icon at the bottom of each settings page.
    5. If you would like more details on how to configure these and other Mac OS X security features, you can view Apple’s In-depth OS X Security Configuration Guides available at its support site.
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