Good Mac security goes beyond antivirus – AppleInsider | Hot Mobile Press


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For years, the Mac has been considered a more secure platform than the competition. But there are still steps you can and should take to protect yourself.

So far in 2022, over 34 million samples of new malware have been detected. But only 2,000 of those samples target macOS, according to AtlasVPN.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s chief of software engineering, appeared in court in May 2021 Epic Games vs Apple Study. He explained the security features of Apple devices and how the Mac has different security features than the iPhone.

Users can download apps from the Mac App Store, a curated storefront where apps are reviewed by Apple’s review team. However, software can also be downloaded from the Internet, a practice known as “sideloading” on iPhone.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked Federighi why the Mac supports multiple sources of apps, a capability Epic Games would love to see on iOS. These third-party apps are “regularly exploited on the Mac,” Federighi said, adding that the scale of Mac malware is unacceptable.

Federighi cited this as an example of why Apple believes iOS is more secure than macOS. “iOS has set a dramatically higher bar for consumer protection,” he added. “The Mac doesn’t meet that bar today.”

When used safely, the Mac is still “the safest platform,” Federighi continued. This statement should make Mac users think about their security software and the way they use their computers.

Level one: Best Security Practices

The best way to prevent virus infection is to stop infected emails, bypass infected websites and download software from trusted sources. Basic security practices combined with a Mac’s built-in security features mean antivirus software isn’t necessary for most people.

Some of these security practices are preventative, such as B. Updating the software and using a DNS service that blocks malicious websites. Others help stop malware that’s already downloaded, like GateKeeper and XProtect, the antivirus feature that Mac already has. Finally, some methods go beyond viruses and involve backing up online accounts.

passwords

One way to prevent hackers from stealing online accounts is to use a password manager. Having a different, complex password for every online account drastically reduces the chances of being hacked.

Apple’s iCloud Keychain, found on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, is an easy way to get started. It automatically suggests a password for each new login and autofills it the next time a person logs into an account. It can alert a person if their password has been found in a data breach and supports two-factor authentication, another layer of account security.

iCloud keychain

On iPhone and iPad, users can find iCloud Keychain by going to Settings > Passwords. Users can find it under System Preferences > Passwords on Mac.

Users can find more password options in Keychain Access, a built-in app in macOS. Keychain Access is home to iCloud Keychain synced logins, Wi-Fi logins, system certificates, and even Secure Notes.

emails and usernames

In addition to using a different password for each website, a user may use a different email address or username. An experimental shortcut creates passwords and usernames when a random jumble of letters and numbers is acceptable for a username.

On the email side, Apple users have a built-in option called Hide My Email. As part of iCloud+ subscription, it automatically creates another unique email address for online accounts.

Email sent to one of these addresses is forwarded to a user’s Apple ID. They can be deleted at any time and have randomly generated names such as [email protected]

Users can find Hide My Email on iPhone and iPad under Settings > your profile name > iCloud. On Mac, it can be found under System Preferences > Apple ID.

phishing

Another way to use email safely is to avoid clicking on suspicious links and attachments. An attacker sends these malicious emails in a cybercrime campaign known as phishing. Phishing is when people are contacted via email, phone, or SMS, with the sender pretending to be a legitimate entity.

For example, the attacker creates a website masquerading as a bank and composes an email to trick the victim into logging into the malicious website. Your username and password are quickly stolen and used or sold by the attacker.

Standard characteristics of phishing emails include “too good to be true” offers, such as B. Saying that the victim won a free iPhone. Or an e-mail attachment infects the victim’s computer with a virus, in which case anti-virus software will come in handy.

If someone receives an email they think is suspicious, they should avoid clicking any URL or downloading an attachment. If the email asks the person to click a button it contains, they can instead manually type the website into a browser and check their account for a notification that matches the email.

software updates

One of the most critical lines of defense against malware is keeping software up to date. Apps and operating system updates often contain fixes for security vulnerabilities found in older software versions.

Apple is improving this experience with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and other new upgrades coming in fall 2022. A feature called Rapid Security Response decouples security patches from software updates, allowing the operating system to protect users faster than ever.

Keep software up to date

Keep software up to date

For example, in the iOS 16 developer beta, you can find this feature under Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates. A switch called “Install Security Responses & System Files” says that patches for security bugs and system files will be installed automatically.

The user may have to restart their device to complete the installation, but some system files may be installed automatically even if the switch is disabled.

These are some ways Apple users can stay safe online as the first layer of defense and the second layer of defense is in macOS.

Layer two: Security features built into macOS

After best security practices for surfing the Internet, Apple’s Mac operating system forms the second layer. It has native security features that protect users from malicious apps, starting with Gatekeeper.

Gatekeeper ensures only trusted software runs on a Mac. When a user downloads an app, plug-in, or software installation package, Gatekeeper uses notarization to verify that it came from an identified developer.

Notarization is a process that requires developers of software outside of the Mac App Store to upload their apps to Apple servers. Apple checks it for malware and sends it back to the developer, who has to sign the code with their developer ID. Apple introduced authentication with macOS Mojave.

Control the source of app downloads

Control the source of app downloads

By default, macOS checks all installed software for known malware when it is first opened. Mac users can change the level of control by going to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. When you click the General tab, you’ll see two options: “Allow apps downloaded from the App Store” and “Allow apps downloaded from the App Store and specific developers.”

The operating system has more security measures in place, although Gatekeeper isn’t on the strictest setting. The Mac has a little-known feature called XProtect that acts as an antivirus. It was released in 2009 in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

In macOS 10.15 or later, XProtect looks for known malicious content when an app is first launched, when an app changes in the file system, and when Apple updates XProtect signatures. Apple says those signatures, which match known malware, are automatically updated regardless of system updates.

If XProtect detects known malware in downloaded software, the software will be blocked, the user will be notified and given the option to move it to the trash. It also removes malware when the signatures have been updated and regularly checks for new infections.

Mac owners can add a third layer of defense to their systems with third-party security tools. This defense can still include antivirus protection, but other options are available.

Objective See tools are a popular alternative to antivirus, although they can be used together. They are free, open-source apps that complement Mac’s native security.

One tool, OverSight, helps block malware designed to spy on users through their webcam and microphone. OverSight constantly monitors the system and alerts the user when the internal Mac microphone or built-in webcam is activated.

Lulu Firewall by Objective See

Lulu Firewall by Objective See

Next, Lulu is a firewall that can block unknown outgoing network connections. It’s an excellent option and works with the Mac’s built-in firewall, which can be found under System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Finally, Objective See has more tools, e.g. B. those that block persistent malware and ransomware.

Another way to stay safe on the internet is DNS. The domain name registry, commonly referred to as the Internet phone book, associates IP addresses with web domains. A service called NextDNS blocks ads and trackers, offers parental network controls, and more. In addition, it protects against malware by blocking websites hosting such content.

These are just some of the security tools available on the internet. As a result, Mac owners can control their security on all fronts and stay safe even as Apple works to improve security for all of its platforms.

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