5 Web Safety Options Constructed Into Your Mac

Even for the cautious, cyberspace can be a dangerous place. Malware, spyware, and phishers are common. But don't worry, macOS has several powerful security features designed to keep you, your data, and your device safe. Let's take a look at the lineup.

1. macOS firewall

An easy way to protect yourself online is to enable your Mac's built-in firewall. While other macOS functions such as Gatekeeper and System Integrity Protection (SIP) already protect your system, activating the firewall offers an additional line of defense against unauthorized connections.

Although macOS disables the firewall by default, you can enable this useful security tool in a few simple steps:

  1. Navigate to System settings > safety.

  2. Choose Firewall Tab.

  3. Use your administrator password to access the padlock in the lower left corner.

  4. click Activate the firewall.

Occasionally, the macOS firewall interferes with applications that require Internet access. However, you can use the Firewall options Panel in safety > Generally to adjust the level of protection granted. Additional settings allow you to:

  • Block all incoming connections

  • Allow built-in apps or certified software to bypass the firewall

  • Activate stealth mode

  • Add exceptions and restrictions

You only need to block all incoming connections in extreme situations. Enabling this feature can affect all apps that rely on internet access. So you should have a good reason for using this option. However, allowing connections for built-in and trusted software is generally safe and can optimize your macOS experience.

Related: Does Your Mac Really Need a Firewall? What you need to know

Another useful tool, stealth mode, can help hide your Mac from malicious operators. Your device won't respond to pings or connection attempts, effectively making the network invisible.

Once you've enabled the firewall, macOS makes it easy to create exceptions and restrictions. To add an entry to the list, press Plus (+) Button, find the appropriate app and click Add to. Once added, you can either block the status of each application or allow incoming connections. The extra control means you can protect your Mac in the way that best suits your needs.

2. Gatekeeper and authentication

Gatekeeper is your friendly and effective macOS bouncer. By providing an alert when you try to open uncertified software, the tool ensures that you are only installing applications that you trust, thus protecting you from potentially harmful errors.

When you try to start new apps, macOS determines whether Apple has notarized (checked and certified) the software. Depending on your Gatekeeper settings, you may see a warning dialog asking if you really want to open the application. You can continue, but the prompt gives you an opportunity to pause and reconsider.

In addition, you can set Gatekeeper to automatically allow apps from the App Store and identified developers. To change Gatekeeper's security settings, do the following:

  1. Navigate to System settings > safety.

  2. Choose Generally Tab.

  3. Use your administrator password to access the padlock in the lower left corner.

  4. Change the gatekeeper settings under Allow from downloaded apps.

Occasionally you need to navigate safety to give permission to launch a blocked app or component, but the affected application will usually prompt you to do so. And when Gatekeeper doesn't give you the ability to use software you know is safe, you can Ctrl-click the application in finder and choose Open minded to slip past the bouncer and bypass gatekeepers.

3. Safari security settings

Whenever you surf the internet, you run the risk of ending up in places that don't think about your safety or privacy. Fortunately, Safari's built-in protections, which include pop-up blocking, fraud alerts, and tracking prevention, all help make browsing safer.

Malicious operators can use pop-up windows as phishing tools to display manipulative messages and hijack your browser. To check or change your pop-up settings, do the following:

  1. begin safari.

  2. Navigate to safari > settings > Web pages.

  3. Choose Popup window from the side menu.

From here you can set Safari to either Allow, block, or Block and notify. You can also configure settings for individual websites in this window.

To access additional security settings, scroll to safari > settings > safety. You will be labeled an option. to notice Warn when you visit fraudulent websitesthat should always be checked. Warnings are rare, but knowing when you stumbled upon a malicious page is valuable.

In addition, you can manage the privacy settings by going to safari > settings > privacy. The option to Prevent cross-site tracking prevents websites from sharing data about your device and browsing habits without your permission. When active, you can click the shield icon to the left of the address bar to see the number of trackers that Safari has blocked.

You also have the option to block all cookies – which could cause some websites to stop working – and Allow privacy-protecting measurement of advertising effectiveness. The latter setting protects your privacy while still providing important information to advertisers. Realistically, you should consider enabling as many security features as your browsing habits allow.

You may have wondered: does your Mac need antivirus? The question comes up a lot, and the way macOS secretly deals with malware is likely to be responsible for any uncertainty. While you're welcome to strengthen your device with additional antivirus software – you are better protected than remaining vulnerable – a feature called XProtect works in the background to protect your system.

Related: Important security features built into your Mac

XProtect is a built-in anti-virus tool that uses signature-based detection, i. H. macOS maintains a malware database and learns to recognize known threats. The verification takes place whenever you start a new application, an application changes or the signature database is updated. When XProtect detects malware, the tool blocks the problematic app or component and prompts you to remove it.

In addition to the integrated anti-virus program from Apple, macOS has an integrated malware removal tool (MRT). You don't need to do anything to use this feature as MRI works automatically.

As you can see, the anti-virus tools built into macOS work in the background to protect your system. Apple computers are harder to get infected with malware than some other devices, and keeping your software updated is the best thing you can do to ensure that XProtect and MRT stay effective.

5. Software and security updates

We saved one of the simplest and most effective security tools for last: software updates. Certain functions such as XProtect and MRT require updated information in order to function properly. Therefore, it is important that your system is running the latest version of macOS. To check for macOS updates, do the following:

  1. Navigate to System settings > Software update.

  2. Allow macOS to search for software.

  3. Install any available updates.

If you don't have any data restrictions, we recommend ticking the box Keep my Mac up to date automatically So you don't have to search for new software manually. In addition, you can further customize your automatic update settings by clicking Progressive Button.

Keep your Mac safe online

Software updates are your greatest asset when it comes to internet security. Functions such as XProtect and MRT rely on up-to-date databases to detect and remove malware. Many macOS security tools work in the background to protect your system. However, you can adjust some settings for Safari, the built-in firewall, and gatekeeper.

Surfing the internet doesn't have to be a risky activity. With the right tools and know-how, you can protect yourself online and avoid unnecessary complications.

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About the author

Matt Moore
(14 articles published)

Matt is an Australian freelance writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Before his studies, he worked in technical support and gained valuable insights into the technology and its users. His real passion is storytelling and he hopes to one day write a well-published novel.

By Matt Moore

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