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The Mac OS is one of the most secure computer operating systems around. The Security & Privacy system preference helps you maintain your Mac security when someone is using it. You can additionally configure what internet services you will and won't allow, as well as control applications that ask for your Mac's location. So let's take a look. Go to System Preferences and click on Security & Privacy, and we'll look at the General tab. The General tab is for protecting your Mac from people who have physical access to it.
Now, in order to use this, we'll click the Lock icon and then I'll enter my password so that I can configure this system preference. Now, if I like, I can change my password or my log in account. However, to do this, I must know the old password. If you've forgotten your old password, you cannot reset it from within this system preference. So, you type in your old password, you type in your new password, you verify, and if you like, you can type in a hint just as you did when you first configured your Mac. You have the option to require a password, and that would be immediately after it goes to sleep or the screen saver kicks in.
So, this is a good thing to do. If you happen to be at an office or somewhere where people have access to your Macintosh, and you get up and you walk away, when the Mac goes to sleep or the screen saver kicks in, in order to get access to that Mac, you would press on a key on the keyboard and then you would be required to enter the password. You can also change that interval, so it can be five seconds, a minute, and so on, and so forth. You can set a lock message when your screen is locked. You can also disable automatic logins.
This is generally a good idea if other people who have access to your Mac. For example, you've been using your Mac and you log out. If you have automatic login set up, they can immediately get to it and they can do anything they like on the computer and then they can put it back to sleep or they can log out again. If you disable automatic login, they have to have your password to get in. We've already covered Gatekeeper and again here are the Gatekeeper settings. Now, let's take a look at the Advanced button. So if you happen to forget to put it to sleep, or if you've configured your screen saver so that it kicks in after 60 minutes instead of just a couple of minutes, your Mac can automatically log out after a certain number of minutes.
You saw that when we first started configuring this that I had to unlock this system preference in order to use it. You can be even more stern and require an administrator's password to access locked preferences. So, this would apply not only to this preference but lots of other preferences as well. And there's the option to automatically update safe downloads list. This is a list that comes from Apple that works with Safari to see what's safe to automatically download. And I click on OK to get rid of that.
You can encrypt your disk with FileVault. This ensures that if someone does get hold of your Mac, they can't access its data without your login password or the recovery key. Now, this all sounds like a good idea, but if you forget your FileVault password or your administrator's password, your data is toast because its encrypted and you can't unlock it. And then the Firewall tab. The Mac allows common internet connections, and that would be web browsers and email connections, for example. But you could tell it not to by configuring the built-in Firewall.
So I can turn on the Firewall and it will prevent certain things. If I then click on Firewall Options, I can choose the kinds of things that I'm going to allow it to block. If I want to completely shut down the Mac from outside access, I can turn on Block All Incoming Connections. However, that makes my Mac less useful. And then, Enable stealth mode, this is an interesting option. If you don't want people to be able to see that your Mac is on the internet, using something like a ping tool, you can enable Stealth Mode.
And basically, this makes your Mac invisible to other computers on the internet and also on your local network. You can still do lots of things with it, but it doesn't show up. Now, Apple's Firewall is a very broad tool. So, if you turn it on, unauthorized applications aren't allowed to receive internet connections. As I said, you can tweak it a little bit, but not a lot. I'm going to turn it off for now. And generally, I don't turn on the Firewall and the reason I don't is because it is so broad.
However, you can find other tools that let you tweak it to a much greater degree. So, for example, there's one called NoobProof, and this is by Hanynet, that let's you really get in and tweak a lot of the settings of the Firewall. And then, finally, there's the Privacy tab. This has been expanded quite a bit with Mountain Lion. So the first option is Location Service. Now we've turned this on because an application requested access, but -- and if an application has requested access for location, its name will appear in this area.
If you like, you can then disable it simply by unchecking the check box next to it. Next is Contacts. If an application under Mountain Lion would like to access your contacts, it will ask for permission to do so. Most of the time, you say yes because you need whatever that feature is that requires your contacts. But at some point, you may decide, No I don't want you to be able to access my contacts anymore. So you would go into Security & Privacy and click on Privacy, select Contacts, and then at that point, you can uncheck any applications that you've granted contacts to that you no longer want to grant that access.
And finally, there's the Diagnostics & Usage option. If you like, you can choose to send diagnostic and usage data to Apple. This is anonymous, so you won't be identified, but it's up to you if want to do it or not. So what kind of information might this contain? Well it might contain things like location data. So, for example, you've taken your laptop on the road, you're a passenger in a car, you're using it, it checks to see where you've travelled and maybe it helps them develop their networks services and their internet services as they go along.
The Mac OS is very secure, but that doesn't mean that you can't tweak it to a greater extent using the settings you find in the Security & Privacy Sytem Preference.
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