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Tech tips

3 new Mac tips for better online security

Unboxing a new Mac or MacBook can make any day feel like Christmas. You will be eager to strip off all the wrapping, dispose of the boxes and get going as fast as you can. Don’t know if you’re a desktop or laptop person? Tap or click here to find out.

While that is great fun, you could soon experience heartache if you don’t secure your personal information and private data. Don’t leave it for another day, as some tend to forget or put it off until it’s too late.

We have three very easy steps that you can take to keep your new machine secure. The five minutes it takes to set up will be worth the effort.

Encrypt your data

The first step in protecting your information from prying eyes is to encrypt your Mac’s data. This can be done through the pre-installed FileVault utility app. When you switch your Mac on, FileVault will encrypt your startup disk.

This prevents any unauthorized users from accessing your information. This also acts as an extra layer of protection if you have a Mac with an Apple T2 chip. Since those models already automatically encrypt data, enabling FileVault will require your login password to decrypt any data.

Here is how to set up FileVault:

  • Make sure that you are logged in as an administrator
  • Click the Apple menu and then System Preferences
  • From there, click Security & Privacy
  • Navigate until you find FileVault
  • Click Turn On FileVault

You might be asked to input your Mac password and will then be presented with several choices. The options relate to how your disk is unlocked and how you can recover your password if you ever forget.

  • Select iCloud account if you want to use those credentials to unlock your disk. Or you can click Set up my iCloud account to reset my password if you don’t have an iCloud account.
  • If you don’t want to use your iCloud details, click Create a recovery key and do not use my iCloud account. For this option, you must write down the recovery key and keep it in a safe place.
  • Click Continue.

That completes the process and will also be activated for any additional users on the machine. If there is an option to Secure Virtual Memory, you should turn that on too. But it’s most likely on already.

Disable automatic login

If there are multiple users on one Mac, you’ll want to lock down each profile. This prevents the system from inadvertently logging them automatically into the wrong account. This is also handy for customization, as each user can personalize their desktop without affecting other users.

To disable automatic login, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator.

  • Click the Apple menu
  • Click System Preferences, then Users & Groups
  • From there, click the lock icon and enter the account password
  • In the lower-left corner, click Login Options
  • Select the user whose account you wish to change
  • The first option should be Automatic Login
  • Turn it off

If you followed the steps above to set up FileVault, Automatic Login would be unavailable as FileVault requires a manual login. A manual login will also be required if the selected user signs in with an iCloud password.

Enable firewall

The firewall on your Mac is disabled by default, but you can turn it on manually. A firewall blocks all incoming network traffic so that malicious connections can’t reach you. The standard macOS X operating system is more robust than Windows, and it’s much harder to break into.

Here is how you turn on the firewall:

  • Click the Apple menu and then System Preferences
  • Click Security or Security & Privacy
  • Select the Firewall tab
  • Unlock the pane by clicking the lock in the lower-left corner and enter the administrator username and password
  • Click Turn On Firewall or Start to enable the firewall

Once activated, you will be able to configure it to your liking. You can choose to block all incoming connections, allow specific apps to receive a connection or automatically allow signed software.

You also have the option to enable stealth mode — which is a good idea. This allows your Mac to operate as if it’s not on the current network and will ignore incoming traffic requests.

Bonus tip: Use a VPN

It is one thing to secure your login details, but you want to secure your internet connection as well. For this purpose, a virtual private network (VPN) is the best option. We recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN anonymizes your internet traffic, bypasses censorship and keeps your personal data safe. It hides your computer’s IP address so that it can’t be traced back to your real-world location.

Protect yourself with the VPN that Kim uses and trusts. Visit ExpressVPN.com/Kim today and get an extra three months free on a one-year package. You can’t beat that!

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