Setting up Security for Your New Mac

A closeup of the word "Security" on a screen.

Computer security is paramount. Ensuring you have the basic security measures in place will save you from a lot of unnecessary trouble later.

Here is an essential guide to setting up your Mac’s security:

1. Turn on automatic updates

macOS updates have two objectives – make updates to your installed apps and improve your Mac’s security. You can choose to update your Mac manually but being pre-emptive in this case is helpful.

If you have macOS Mojave or Catalina, go to Apple icon -> System Preferences -> Software Update. Check the box that says ‘Automatically keep my Mac up to date.’

For more control over how updates happen, you can check out the options under Advanced.

2. Make use of FileVault

Photo of a person using a Mac laptop.

Internet security is essential, but so is securing your device from someone that manages to steal your device. 

Mac provides an in-built solution for this, too – FileVault. FileVault encrypts all your files – existing and the new ones you create. It also requires you to enter a password every time you log in, preventing unauthorized access. 

Turning on FileVault is easy. Choose File Vault under Security & Privacy.

Now click on the lock icon. You will be asked to enter the admin name and password. Next, turn on FileVault. 

3. Have your Mac ask for a password after inactivity

What if you’re working in a shared space and need to step away for a while? Most likely, you’ll shut down Mac’s lid, but on the rare chance you don’t, someone could get into your system. 

To avoid this from happening, enable the option that asks for a password after a period of inactivity. 

Turn on the ‘Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins’ under the General security settings. 

If you have a dedicated office space that you can lock, you can change the ‘immediately’ to a ‘few seconds all the way up to 8 hours.

4. Activate Hot Corners

Screen savers are enabled after a set amount of time when you’re not actively using your Mac. If you need your screen saver enabled immediately, you can set up Hot Corners. 

Go to System Preferences -> Desktop & Screen Saver -> Screen Saver -> Hot Corners

Next, you will see a small pop-up window that will allow you to set a corner to trigger the screen saver when you scroll to that corner. 

Choose your preferred corner and then choose ‘Start Screen Saver’ from the dropdown list.

5. Enable ‘Find My’ for your Mac

Apple combined Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into a single app called Find My on iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. 

The Find My app allows you to locate your Mac and spot the last known location. 

To get started with this, you need to enable Location Services. 

Go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Privacy

Check the box next to Find My.

Next, go to Apple ID on System Preferences and then iCloud. Turn on ‘Find My Mac’ and check ‘Enable Offline Finding’ so that your system can be located even if it is offline. 

6. Clean your storage if you suspect malware

If you suspect malware or a suspicious app on your system, you need to clean up your storage thoroughly. 

Before you do that, take a backup of your files, or better yet, turn on iCloud storage in the first place. 

Next, you want to start the process of cleaning your Mac. Check for unnecessary files, delete temporary files, duplicate files, empty your trash and remove Time Machine backups. This should eliminate the standard possibilities.

If you want detailed step-by-step instructions on clearing MacBook storage, you can find more tips here.

7. Install a good antivirus software

Photo of a person doing programming.

As safe as Macs are, you can always err on the side of caution. In fact, recent research from McAfee reported that macOS malware rose by 51% in 2020. This suggests that Macs are not immune to malware, and there are targeted attacks that you need to be protected from. 

Good antivirus software can prevent suspicious apps or malware from being downloaded in the first place. It can also protect you from phishing scams, pop-up scams, webcam spying which is becoming increasingly common. Most antivirus software also includes a VPN to save your internet browsing history and create a secure connection. 

8. Install apps only from the Mac App Store

All Mac App Store apps undergo rigorous checks to make sure they are secure and are not trying to steal or clone your data. It is advisable only to download apps that are available on the Mac App Store. If you install an app from the internet, your system will show a prompt letting you know that the app may not be secure. Only install the app if you are sure it is safe.

To sum up

You should always be careful while surfing the internet. Don’t click on links that you don’t know or open emails from suspicious senders, download an app that you don’t trust, or add an extension that you’re unsure about.

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