This article is a pre-release chapter in the upcoming “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” by Joe Kissell, scheduled for public release later in 2015. Apart from Chapter 1: Introducing Mac Security, and Chapter 2: Learn Security Basics, these chapters are available only to TidBITS members; see “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” Streaming in TidBITS for details.
Chapter 3: Perform Quick Security Fixes
Time to get to work improving your security! Let’s begin with a few things everyone should do (with small variations depending on your risk level). This chapter contains steps so fundamental to your security that you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice to avoid them. Just as you need to check that the appliance is plugged in before you call customer service, the steps in this chapter constitute a sort of minimum threshold for security awareness.
Keep Your Software Up to Date
It’s a fact of life: software has bugs. And some of those bugs result in security vulnerabilities. Fortunately, most major software vendors, including Apple, have teams of programmers working constantly to identify and fix security-related bugs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read breathless news reports about some newly discovered and seemingly disastrous Mac security issue, only to see a software update from Apple fix it a few days later before any widespread damage occurs. This is Apple’s normal pattern, and it’s why you should never lose sleep about the Mac security crisis du jour.
However, Apple security updates don’t help unless you install them! If you have automatic software updates turned off and never bother to check for updates, you could be needlessly putting your Mac and your data at risk from problems that were solved months or years ago.
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