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I've recently been a little paranoid about being hacked and having my computer breached by people that I don't know, so I think it's time for a security upgrade. Anyone have any tips/software that I can use or download that can really beef up the security on my laptop? Thanks in advance.

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The biggest threat to a computer's security is it's operator –  Keltari May 19 '13 at 19:43

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

First of all, there's no complete security. In most cases, this isn't what you need (or want) anyway. Chances are, no government is spending a significant amount of money on you.

Measures to be taken also depend on what kind of threats you want to protect against: Is it the thief in the subway? Some random 'hacker' or bot net while you're connected to the internet? A co-worker you don't trust?


Common sense security measures, both specific to your Mac and generally applicable, are:

Remove Flash and Java.

I'm serious. Just uninstall those and your Mac will be quite a bit more secure than it was before.

Enable Mac OS X security features.

Open System Preferences… in the Apple menu. Select Security & Privacy. Enable everything:

  • user account password
  • password after waking from sleep and screen saver
  • FileVault full disk encryption
  • firewall

Don't run unnecessary services.

This includes services configured in the Sharing preference pane of System Preferences, but any software you install might run some network service you're not necessarily aware of.

Keep your system up to date.

Apple's generally a bit lazy when it comes to fixing security issues in parts of the OS. But they do release security updates every once in a while, and you should install them.

Don't reuse passwords.

Use a password manager to generate and store passwords. Mac OS X has Keychain Access built-in, but there are others. Many services store your password in plain-text form or in a way that easily allows third parties to find out what your password is. Don't assume nobody's logging your attempts to log in somewhere using all of the five or less passwords you regularly re-use.

Especially don't reuse your login (and FileVault disk encryption) password on any web sites.

Use your common sense.

No, random people on the internet do not want to send you money. And there's probably no new message waiting for you in your Facebook or LinkedIn account either. You did not violate the Steam or Battle.net terms of service. Do not click on the links in those emails.

Lock the screen when leaving the computer for a few minutes.


There's also a site dedicated to security questions and answers: Security Stack Exchange. They have great general and specific security advice. Check out their list of 'greatest hits' questions.

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