Keep Data Safe on Mac

Data Security: Tools

 By Steve Morgan
Keep Data Safe on Mac
We all agree that Mac is more secure than Windows computers. Mac computers run under macOS, a Unix-style operating system with high reliability and security. However, every software has a flaw. You still need to handle your Mac's security settings in the right ways to ensure your privacy is protected from possible hackers.

Now macOS doesn't offer a built-in antivirus/malware scan feature. Its security mechanism focuses on password management, data encryption, and sharing. Like all operating systems, macOS works hard to patch flaws in time, so hackers and cybercriminals cannot get a chance to exploit defects. It's the core that Mac has a high reputation for keeping customers' private data safe.

1. Software Updates
If the software has any flaw, your Mac will be at high risk, especially a defect is reported publicly. So you should update software regularly. In addition to macOS, don't forget to update all apps installed on your Mac, which are as important as MacOS to keep your privacy safe.

In the Software Update preference pane, click Advanced; you can see settings related to software updates. It lets you check installed system data files and security updates and helps you get the latest updates as soon as possible. Here you have two basic options: auto or manual update.
  • Auto-update: if you have the bandwidth, check for updates automatically and download new updates when available.
  • Manual update: if you dislike interrupting, e.g., working on an important project, you don't want apps or macOS to be updated.
MacOS Update Setting
2. FileVault
FileVault is Apple's full-disk encryption feature. If you activate FileVault, your files will be encrypted. In case your Mac is stolen or lost, no one can decrypt them unless knowing your password. Did you hear some stories that someone lost a computer then loss secrets too? If you have a Mac and turn on FileVault, you will never be in such a horrible story.

When the feature was first introduced, it slowed down performance slightly, but that is no longer a big concern. To decrypt files, you need to type in your account password or the recovery key created when you switched FileVault on. Besides, in some cases, you need to type in a password to open a file. For some users who don't care about data leaking, the inconvenience may outweigh the security advantages.

However, if the Mac is for your business or has critical personal data, you should turn on FileVault as follows. FileVault turned on, all the files under your account will be encrypted; it is robust and secure and is especially useful if your Mac gets lost or stolen.

MacOS FileVault

3. Back-Up Data
Backing up your data is like an insurance policy. In case your data isn't in good shape, either by yourself in an accident or by cybercriminals intentionally, the backup will help you out. Usually, no one wants to get payment from an insurance policy, but it helps very much just in case.

Mac offers a comfortable and useful backup tool, called a fancy name: Time Machine. Time Machine needs extra storage to contain backup contents: an external hard drive or a network volume. As long as your settings are done, Time Machine automatically backs up your Mac every hour. It's a handy built-in tool to keep your data safe.

MacOS Back Up Data

4. Firewall
The macOS has a built-in firewall feature, which blocks any unwanted incoming network connections. But the feature doesn't turn on by default. If your Mac often runs in scenarios with public Wi-Fi, you had better turn on the feature as follows.
  • Click the Firewall tab in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy pane
  • Click the padlock icon at the bottom left to unlock system settings.
  • Click the Turn On Firewall button.
  • Then click the Firewall Options button.
  • In the dialog box that appears, click the Enable Stealth Mode box.
This last step means your Mac will be invisible on public networks, such as shared Wi-Fi in a cafe, and no one malware can access it.

MacOS FirewallOf course, your Mac can still receive an inbound connection by maintaining a white list. You can set a list of apps and services which can collect incoming data when macOS turns on the firewall.

However, macOS's firewall works only in one direction: it shields you from inbound traffic, not outbound. Its job is to stop apps and services that accept incoming connections.

If any malware has run at your Mac, MacOS's firewall cannot stop it from connecting to the Internet. It means your privacy may leak without your awareness.

If you are concerned about an outbound firewall, you need to install third-party apps or tools.

5. Password
You should be aware of how important it is to have a secure password, which is the key for your Mac's user accounts. If anyone can access it, all your data will be disclosed. You need to ensure that your password is secure but also that you can remember it. There are many tips about creating a secure password, which isn't only for Mac's password but also for generic passwords.

You can set a password for Mac as follows.

MacOS PasswordThere are three settings here:
  • The first is to set a password for your account.
  • The next allows you to specify if a password is needed to unlock your Mac when it goes to sleep.
  • Then disable automatic login, which you should do if you use a mobile Mac.
  • Choose to allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, assuming you have an Apple Watch.
Good passwords should be difficult to remember, and they should also not be written down. Apple provides iCloud Keychain to help you make and remember passwords through a built-in random password generator.

Supposing that you are logging on to your Apple ID, iCloud Keychain will automatically enter any required password for any service or website. It can store all your account details, like settings for email, contacts, calendars, and social networking services, and automatically retrieve and populate them only if you need to log into any of your Macs and iOS devices.

iCloud Keychain is a built-in solution of Apple for both macOS and iOS. It uses a master password (Apple ID) to let you create and store robust passwords and sync them across all your devices. If your devices aren't limited to Apple products, you can select an alternative password manager too.

6. App Download
In the General pane of the Security & Privacy preferences, you can determine which types of apps can launch on your Mac. There are two options:
  • App Store
  • App Store and authorized developers
Both are good to prevent malicious apps that don't have an Apple developer certificate from downloading and launching.

In most cases, "App Store" is enough: you may not need to get apps elsewhere except the App Store. However, if you indeed need an app that isn't in the App Store and from an authorized developer, you may wish to opt for the second option. With either option, your Mac should be secure.

Please note that a non-authorized developer who downloads an app will bring high risk to your privacy and data. However, you can run an app that doesn't come from an identified developer, but you will have to approve it before running.

MacOS App Download

7. 2021 Mac Security Software
Mac provides a robust security mechanism; however, the security requirements are different from various use cases. Some third-party software developers also offer lots of supplements to enhance your information security. We list some of them to help you get the right choice for your Mac in case you need extra security protection.

ProducerNameAreaFree
McAfee, LLC.
USA
Mcafee Total ProtectionAntivirus
Password
VPN Service
Internet Security
File Security
Parental Control
Detail
Mcafee Safe Connect VPNVPN Service
Detail
Mcafee Identity Theft ProtectionPrivacy Security
Detail
F-Secure Cyber Security Limited
UK
F-Secure SecurityInternet Security
Password
VPN Service
Parental Control
Detail
F-Secure Id ProtectionPassword
Privacy Security
Detail
BitDefender, LLC.
Romania
Bitdefender SecurityInternet Security
Password
VPN Service
File Security
Parental Control
Detail
Bitdefender Premium VPNVPN Service
Detail
Nord Inc.
Panama
NordVPNVPN Service
Password
Detail
NordPass Password ManagerPassword
Privacy Security
Detail
NortonLifeLock Inc.
USA
Norton 360 AntiVirusAntivirus
Data Backup
Internet Security
Password
Parental Control
VPN Service
Detail
Norton Secure VPNVPN Service
Detail
Webroot Inc.
USA
Webroot SecureAnywhereAntivirus
Internet Security
Password
Data Backup
Detail
Webroot WiFi SecurityVPN Service
Detail
Kaspersky Lab
Russia
Kaspersky Anti Virus & SecurityAntivirus
Internet Security
Password
Data Backup
Privacy Security
Parental Control
Detail
Kaspersky Safe KidsParental Control
Detail
TotalAV Software
UK
Total SecurityAntivirus
Internet Security
VPN Service
Detail
Avira Operations
Germany
Avira Antivirus ProAntivirus
Internet Security
VPN Service
Detail
Malwarebytes Inc.
USA
Malwarebytes SecurityAntivirus
Internet Security
VPN Service
Detail
ESET, LLC.
Slovak
ESET Smart SecurityAntivirus
Internet Security
Password
Data Backup
Parental Control
Detail
K7 Computing Pvt Ltd.
India
K7 Antivirus & SecuirtyAntivirus
Internet Security
Parental Control
Detail
Avast Software s.r.o.
Czech
AVG AntiVirus for MacAntivirus
Internet Security
Detail
Avast Software
Czech
Avast Antivirus & SecurityAntivirus
Internet Security
Detail
Sophos Ltd.
UK
Sophos HomeAntivirus
Internet Security
Detail
Clario Tech Limited
UK
MacKeeperAntivirus
VPN Service
Detail
Comodo Security Solutions, Inc.
USA
Comodo AntivirusAntivirus
Data Backup
VPN Service
Detail
G DATA CyberDefense AG.
Germany
G Data Antivirus MacAntivirus
Detail
Trend Micro Inc.
Japan
Trend SecurityInternet Security
Password
VPN Service
Parental Control
Detail
Aura
USA
Hotspot ShieldVPN Service
Password
Privacy Security
Detail
CyberGhost
Romania
CyberGhost VPNVPN Service
Detail
Express VPN International Ltd
UK
ExpressVPNVPN Service
Detail
Surfshark Ltd.
UK
Surfshark VPNVPN Service
Detail
Dashlane Inc.
USA
Dashlane Password ManagerPassword
Privacy Security
Detail
AgileBits, Inc.
Canada
1Password Password ManagerPassword
File Security
VPN Service
Detail
Keeper Security, Inc.
USA
Keeper Password ManagerPassword
File Security
Privacy Security
Detail
LogMeIn,Inc.
USA
LastPass Password ManagerPassword
File Security
Privacy Security
Detail
Bitwarden, Inc.
USA
Bitwarden Password ManagerPassword
File Security
Detail
Siber Systems, Inc.
USA
RoboForm Password ManagerPassword
File Security
Detail
Qustodio LLC.
Spain
Qustodio Family PremiumParental Control
Detail
Cisco Systems
USA
OPENDNS Home/ProsumerParental Control
Detail
Content Watch Holdings, Inc.
USA
Net Nanny Family PassParental Control
Detail
Mobicip LLC.
USA
Mobicip FamilyParental Control
Detail
Google LLC
USA
Google DriveData Backup
Detail
Microsoft Corporation
USA
Microsoft OneDriveData Backup
Detail
Apple Inc.
USA
Apple iCloud DriveData Backup
Detail
IDrive Inc.
USA
iDriveData Backup
Detail
Dropbox, Inc.
USA
Dropbox IndividualData Backup
Detail
Acronis International GmbH
Singapore Switzerland
Acronis True ImageData Backup
Detail
CHENGDU Yiwo® Tech Development Co., Ltd.
China
EaseUS Todo BackupData Backup
Detail
Paragon Technologie GmbH.
Germany
Hard Disk Manager for MacData Backup
Detail
Western Digital Corporation
USA
My Cloud HomeData Backup
Detail
Piriform Ltd
UK
CCleanerFile Security
Privacy Security
Detail
Stellar Information Technology Pvt. Ltd
India
STELLAR DATA RECOVERY for MacFile Security
Detail


8. Free Mac Security Software
Ideally, Mac users shouldn't consider free security software. One reason is MacOS itself already has powerful build-in security features; the more important reason is that your privacy and data are deserved; you pay for them. However, if you aren't familiar with third parties' Mac security software, a free product may be a good start point for you to evaluate how these tools work for your scenarios.

Here we list some popular ones to help you to understand mainstream Mac security software.

8.1 Free Anti-virus for Mac
Sophos Home
(1)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroid
Detail Info
FeatureFreePremiumDevice
AntivirusFull list
Safe webFull list
Web ProtectionFull list
Remote ControlFull list
Anti identity theftFull list
Realtime anti-phishingFull list
AVG AntiVirus for Mac
(2)
DEVICE:
 Mac
Detail Info
FeatureAntivirusInternet SecurityDevice
Virus scannerMac
Phishing protectionMac
Secure filesMac
Safe webMac
Anti identity theftMac
Comodo Antivirus
(3)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMacLinux
Detail Info
FeatureFreeCompleteDeviceNote
Defense TechnologyFull list
AntivirusFull list
Auto Containment TechnologyFull list
Cloud-based AntivirusFull list
Secure ShoppingFull list
Safe webFull list
Encrypted file storageFull list50G
Wi-Fi VPNFull list10G


8.2 Free Privacy VPN for Mac
Mcafee Safe Connect VPN
(1)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroid
Detail Info
FeatureFreeMonthlyYearlyDeviceNote
Secure VPNFull list250M per month
Secure VPNFull list5 licenses
Unlimited dataFull list
Hotspot Shield
(2)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroidChromeBookLinux
Detail Info
FeatureFreePremiumPremium FamilyDeviceNote
Secure VPNWindows Mac iOS Android ChromeUp to 2 Mbps,500 MB daily
Secure VPNFull listup to 1 Gbps,unlimited traffic
Streaming accessFull list
Virtual locationsFull list
Realtime anti-phishingFull list
Password managerFull listby 1Password
Monitor privacy breachFull list


8.3 Free Password Manager for Mac
LastPass Password Manager
(1)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroidChromeBook
Detail Info
FeatureFreePremiumFamiliesDeviceNote
Secure password vaultFull list
Auto fill passwordFull list
Password generatorFull list
Share PasswordFull list
Monitor privacy breachFull list
Secure NoteFull list
Digital walletFull list
Multiple factor authenticationFull list
Encrypted file storageFull list(1G)
1Password Password Manager
(2)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroidChromeBook
Detail Info
FeatureFreePremiumFamilyTeamDeviceNote
Secure password vaultFull list
Auto fill passwordFull list
Share PasswordFull list
Monitor privacy breachFull list
Secure NoteFull list
Digital walletFull list
Multiple factor authenticationFull list
Encrypted file storageFull list(1G)
Bitwarden Password Manager
(3)
DEVICE:
 WindowsMaciOSAndroidChromeBookLinux
Detail Info
FeatureFreePremiumFamilyTeamDeviceNote
Secure password vaultFull list
Auto fill passwordFull list
Password generatorFull list
Secure NoteFull list
Digital walletFull list
Multiple factor authenticationFull list
Share PasswordFull list
Encrypted file storageFull list(1G)