Secure Your Mac with OS X's Built-In Firewall, Secure Empty Trash, and Visitor Accounts

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Use Mac OS X’s Built-In Firewall

Did you know your Mac OS X comes with a built-in firewall? Firewalls are good to have because they monitor what types of data come into and out of your network and eliminate almost all possibility for attack. Being a Mac user, you know your chances are slim that you’ll ever get attacked, but if you have an always-on Internet connection or a wireless network connection, I’d suggest turning it on anyway.

Here’s how to turn on Mac OS X’s included firewall:

  1. Open System Preferences>Sharing>Firewall.

  2. Click Start to start the Firewall.

  3. You’ll notice that the services you’ve already configured to run are listed (with description and port) and checked. If you need to add other ports, click New. In the dialog box that appears, you can choose items such as MSN Messenger, ICQ, IRC, and others.

  4. Add what you need and click OK. Close System Preferences.

Use Secure Empty Trash

When you carry your trash out to the trash can behind your house, you probably realize that there’s a risk that people might rummage through it and recover bank statements, credit card numbers, or similar items. You might shred those types of documents before you carry them out. That’s certainly a good idea. You can “shred” the items in your Trash folder too, using Secure Empty Trash. When you’re ready to empty your Trash and you know you’ll never need what’s in it again, choose Secure Empty Trash from the Finder menu.

Create and Enable a Visitor Account

If you’re planning on having company soon and your visitors will require the use of your computer, create a visitor account for them to use. They don’t have to use yours. It’s pretty easy to create a standard account named Visitor and place any restrictions and limitations you want on it. This will help protect your Mac from unintentional harm and from others viewing your personal files.

To create a Visitor account, follow these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences>Accounts.

  2. Click the + sign to add a new account.

  3. Name the account Visitor and the short name visitor and create a password that they can use to log on.

  4. Select the Limitations tab and click Some Limits.

  5. Deselect any item you do not want your visitors to have access to. Make sure to uncheck Change Password.

  6. Check This User Can Only Use These Applications (if desired), and configure what applications the user can access.

  7. Click Simple Finder.

  8. The Simple Finder has a simplified Dock and allows the user to directly use only those applications showing in the My Applications folder in the Dock. Again, choose what to allow and disallow.

  9. Close the window.

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