Mac Security: A Quick Guide to 5 Essentials

There are numerous privacy and security tools available for macOS such as Bitdefender, Malwarebytes, Intego, Sophos, etc., that can be utilized by an organization to make their mac system more secure. Most of these privacy and security tools are inherently straightforward, mostly free of cost, or even seem simple to implement and use at first glance. When combined with basic methodologies such as using a password manager, utilizing a VPN when connected to a public WIFI, turning on the firewall, these tools and methodologies can offer businesses and their employees the best practices they need to secure their macOS computers to execute mission-critical tasks without the fear of data security/compromission in the Mac devices.


In recent years, numerous businesses across the globe are taking precautionary measures when it comes to safeguarding corporate data security and are drafting an information security policy, which sets guidelines as well as communicates what remote employees are expected to do with the Mac devices (no matter if that is corporate-liable devices or a Bring-your-own-device) storing those sensitive & confidential data.


Hardening your Mac’s operating system for security


The term “hardening your Mac” refers to setting up the Mac in such a configuration that it reduces the probability of the malicious actors to intrude and compromise with the corporate data or the occurrence of an unexpected malware attack such as virus, ransomware, or any other format of cyber-attack that might intentionally or unintentionally hamper the internal system of the devices.


The same way one would think about the security measures they take for their house, they should also think similarly about the security of their Mac computers containing all their confidential data such as personal, financial, or corporate sensitive data. A hardened Mac is like a locked door. One has to make sure that the locks are in working order with utmost precaution. That way, malicious actors will have a harder time breaking in (no matter if that is your house or the Mac devices).


A hardened Mac is one of the best ways to increase the parameters of security measures but when amalgamated with Mac enterprise management, this will drastically mitigate the chances of the organization losing confidential data or being hacked. So, let’s deep-dive into a few quick guides to essentials and best practices for securing your MacBook.


  1. Create a user account that won’t be an administrator


It is imperative for an IT administrator of an organization to keep a tab of all the mobile devices (Mac books, desktops as well as smartphones) being used by an employee for executing official tasks (be it during remote work or on the traditional office infrastructure). There can be instances during remote work that an employee utilizing a corporate-liable Mac device might also use it for personal purposes such as social media surfing, downloading of unauthorized applications, or even share it with a family member for their personal use without considering the permits drafted in the corporate security policies.


It becomes a mandate for an IT administrator to create a separate account for the end-user with non-admin configurations that empowers them with the precautionary measure for safeguarding corporate assets. IT admins can further draft a policy outlining what a remote workforce can or cannot do with the deployed Macs other than executing mission-critical tasks for additional security layers.


Users with a standard account (non-admins) will have fewer permissions and their access will be limited by default depending on what permissions the admins have assigned. In addition, they would only have the ability to change, add, and edit files in their home folder, access folders on shared volumes, and change the settings in their system preferences, depending on their preset permissions.


  1. Consider using a password manager


A password policy should be implemented in every organization that ensures the adherents follow it. In this way, there will be an assurance of minimum-security compliance for the organizations being followed by the workforce to safeguard corporate assets. In the event wherein the remote workers are creating several passwords depending on the platforms and accounts they might need to use to accomplish their mission-critical tasks, the password complexity can turn out to be quite high; particularly if the organization enforces in the security policy that the passwords created are to be changed in a monthly frequency.


An organization can utilize the implementation of a password manager that encrypts all of the account information (log-in credentials to all the different accounts) of the workforce using a single master password so that these are the only encrypted passwords the workforce can utilize to log in without the fear of the probability of someone else knowing it. Besides making password management easier for the workforces, it also keeps track of each password of all the diversified accounts; using these stored passwords, they can use them automatically to access their respective accounts as required.


By utilizing and implementing a password manager for business, your employees can create complex and unique passwords with a greater chance of being cracked where they will be stored in an encrypted manner.


There are many password managers that businesses can use including LastPass, RoboForm, Keeper, Dash lane, etc. Also, whenever possible, one should use their iCloud account with two-factor authentication in conjunction with a password manager for an additional layer of security.


  1. Use a two-way firewall to protect outgoing and incoming traffic


The built-in firewall of Apple only has the ability to offer protection against inbound threats. Unfortunately, inbound firewalls can only block a limited range of threats. Malware and targeted attacks are becoming more prevalent, so making sure multiple layers of security are in place is the best defense. In the case that the Mac deployed is infected with unknown malware, it is important for the end-user to be able to prevent it from getting connected to the Internet – the only firewalls that offer this type of protection are those with outbound protection.


Those who use a two-way firewall often overlook the importance of outgoing firewall protection, especially when considering anti-malware. The outbound firewall is notably good at alerting the end-user if they download software of their choice that they didn’t expect would connect to the Internet as soon as it is installed in the background, but was found to be doing so in their Mac device. A two-way firewall offers the best protection since it prevents malicious programs from communicating with the Internet and combats inbound as well as outbound threats.


  1. Ensure that FileVault full-disk encryption is enabled


Using Apple’s FileVault encryption, businesses can secure the corporate data on their remote workers’ Macs. For around ten years, Macs have had this feature, which is robust and does not slow down any Mac devices in any manner so that the mission-critical tasks are never halted no matter what. This highly secure encryption algorithm uses XTS-AES 128 with 256-bit keys to encrypt the Mac device hard drive.


In the event, if the workforce doesn’t have a fully encrypted hard drive, any cybercriminal who steals their Mac, for instance, can access all the sensitive and confidential data. When FileVault is enabled, the Mac will be automatically locked once it is shut down. Access is granted to the drive’s contents only once the Mac is turned on and logged in by an authorized user.


  1. Make use of VPN software


The use of VPN software for remote workforces is highly recommended as a data protection precautionary measure for instance if they plan to hop into the nearest coffee shop for a productive workday as a change whilst they only have access to public Wi-Fi.


VPNs encrypt the information sent and received via your Mac device or mobile device, preventing a network sniffer from seizing data from your Mac; such as searching for login credentials, secret information, and financial information, etc. Additionally, VPN software obfuscates your present IP address, rendering it undetectable to websites. Moreover, your ISP won’t have the ability to trace the history of your browsing too because your communications/HTML’s are encrypted. Thus, ensuring no privacy intrusion while executing official tasks.


Closing lines…


As businesses embark on the path towards building a secure business foundation, hardening their Mac devices is an excellent first step. The Mac will obviously give them the utmost performance and security when utmost precautions and the steps outlined above are in conjunction before deploying it to your remote workers. For enterprise computing on Mac OS, implementing a Mac Management Software ensures increase in productivity of workforces while maintaining corporate privacy and data security. Managing the security of MacBooks with a Mac management software allows IT teams to rest assured that employees can take advantage of their versatile features.