Harden Your Mac Like the NSA
Who knows better how to secure your Mac than the people dedicated to spying? Yes, we are talking about the NSA and, though this particular guide isn’t entirely fresh, the American spy agency’s advice is nonetheless timely and easy to implement.
Check out the National Security Agency (NSA)’s Hardening Tips For Default Installation of Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” (pdf). Yes, it’s a little old, but their advice on how to secure your Mac is nonetheless timely as ever:
• Safari — Select Safari > Preferences > General and uncheck “Open safe files after downloading.”
• AirPort — If WiFi is not necessary, go to System Preferences > Network and “Turn Airport off.” Then head to “Advanced” and click on the TCP/IP tab. Set “Configure IPv6” to “Off.”
• Software Update — [R]egularly applying system updates is extremely important, says the NSA. Go to System Preferences > Software Update, click “Check for updates” and set to daily
• System Accounts — Go to System Preferences > Accounts > Login options and disable Automatic Login. Set login to display name and password. Disable the guest account and sharing by selecting “Guest Account” and unchecking “Allow Guest to log into this computer.” However, if the Guest account is necessary, deselect “Allow guests to connect to select folders.”
• Security — In System Preferences, open the Security pane. In General, check the following: “Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver”; “Disable automatic login”; “Use secure virtual memory”; “Disable remote control infrared receiver” for added peace of mind.
• FileVault — Consider activating FireVault for your laptop, which can protect data if the computer is stolen. But be careful to read the warnings first! To enable FireVault, head to System Preferences > Security > Filevault.
• Firewall — In System Preferences > Security > Firewall, select “Allow only essential services,” click on “Advanced” and enable “Firewall Logging” and “Stealth Mode.”
For what it’s worth, the NSA’s advice on how to secure your Mac is very much the sermon the Fairer Platform and others have been preaching for years. And, yes, it couldn’t hurt to use antivirus software, like ClamXav…
What’s your take?