MacOS security: An overview of the security features built into MacOS. How to use them to protect your data, prevent hacking, and keep your computer secure

MacOS security: An overview of the security features built into MacOS. How to use them to protect your data, prevent hacking, and keep your computer secure
Are you a Mac user worried about the security of your computer? With more and more malicious threats out there, it's important to make sure that your data and system are well protected. Fortunately, MacOS comes with some great security features that can help keep you safe. In this article, we'll provide an overview of some of the best security features built into MacOS and how to use them to protect your data, prevent hacking attempts, and keep your computer secure. 

But before, let’s discuss how to deal with one of the most common MacOS errors, namely the error code 36. You’ve probably faced it yourself or heard that some of your friends encountered this problem. So when dealing with an error code 36 on your MacOS device, the first step is to understand what it actually means. In short, it indicates that there is a problem with a particular file or folder in your system, and that it cannot be read or written. Sounds pretty simple, isn’t it?

One solution is to check if the file’s permissions are set correctly – they may need updating in order for it to be accessible. You can do this by selecting the file, clicking File > Get Info and then checking if you have Read & Write access to it. If not, you may need to update your permissions or delete the file altogether and try again.

Another solution is to check your hard drive for errors. So go to Disk Utility and select Repair Disk in the First Aid tab. This should help find any underlying issues which might be causing error code 36. 

Built-in Security Features

MacOS is packed with plenty of built-in security features to help keep your Mac safe and secure. Here's a quick overview of some of the more popular ones you should know about.


The Firewall in MacOS acts as a barrier between your computer and any malicious software trying to gain access. It examines all incoming and outgoing traffic, allowing only authorized programs to connect to the internet. You can customize it to allow certain apps while blocking others.


With FileVault, you can encrypt confidential documents so they're inaccessible without a password or encryption key. By encrypting files on your hard drive, you prevent hackers from accessing them even if they gain physical access to your device.


Gatekeeper is a built-in security feature that helps protect your Mac from harmful software. It ensures that all downloaded applications are safe and verified, preventing malicious programs from being installed on your system. 

Spotlight Search

It is an advanced searching technology built into MacOS that helps you quickly locate files on your computer. It uses powerful algorithms to find the documents you're looking for and can even detect malicious software when scanning for files. 

Keychain Access

Keychain Access stores encrypted passwords and other sensitive information in an encrypted database so it's safe from prying eyes. With Keychain Access, you don't have to remember every single password you use — just the Keychain Access master password. 

Privacy Preferences

The Privacy & Security system preferences in MacOS give you granular control over your privacy settings. Here, you can manage access to features such as location services, camera and microphone, contacts, calendar and more. You also have the ability to adjust settings for each app individually. 

Enabling Firewall

The firewall is the first line of defense against malicious network traffic. It acts as a barrier between your computer and the internet, blocking any potentially dangerous or unwanted traffic from getting through. 

When it comes to setting up a firewall on your computer, there are two main options: hardware firewalls and software firewalls. Hardware firewalls are physical devices that connect directly to your modem or router and act as a gateway for incoming network requests, while software firewalls are installed directly on your computer and monitor all incoming and outgoing connections. Whichever option you choose, make sure that they’re updated regularly and that your settings are in line with the most secure configurations. 

Once you’ve got your firewall up and running, it’s important to keep an eye on how it’s performing. Most firewalls come equipped with logging features that can provide valuable insight into what type of traffic is being blocked or allowed through. This information can help you identify possible malicious activity before it becomes a problem. 

To enable a firewall on MacOS, follow these steps: 

1. Open System Preferences by clicking the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen. 

2. Select Security & Privacy, then select Firewall at the bottom of the window. 

3. Click “Turn On Firewall” to enable your firewall and keep it running all times.  

4. You can optionally click “Firewall Options” to customize settings for more advanced protection. 

5. Once you have completed the steps above, click “OK” to save your changes and close out of the window. 

FileVault Encryption

FileVault encryption is the built-in encryption tool on Mac computers. It encrypts all of your data, making sure that it can only be accessed with a password or other authentication methods. With FileVault, you don't have to worry about anyone snooping around your files: they'll be fully secured and unreadable without the proper credentials. Plus, it's incredibly easy to set up. Once enabled, all new files will automatically be encrypted - giving you peace of mind whenever you store files onto your computer. 

Here’s how to get started:

1. Enable FileVault. This can be done easily in System Preferences by selecting Security & Privacy > FileVault. Then click the lock icon at the bottom of the window and enter an administrator name and password. 

2. Select "Turn On FileVault". The computer will then generate a recovery key which will allow you to unlock the encrypted drive if you forget your password or need to restore the system from a disk image backup. Make sure to keep this key safe. 

3. Log out and log back in. Once FileVault is enabled, you will need to log out and then log back into your account. This completes the setup process.

Now that you’ve got FileVault set up, it’s important to understand how it works. It uses an encryption algorithm called AES-XTS (Advanced Encryption Standard - XTS mode) which scrambles data so that only those with the proper permissions can access it. The encryption key is stored in a separate section of memory on your computer, making it almost impossible for someone without the recovery key to gain access to the data stored on your Mac. 


Gatekeeper is a security feature built into macOS to help protect Mac users from malicious software. It checks all the apps on your computer and makes sure they’re from a trusted source before you open them. When you try to open an app, Gatekeeper will check if it has been digitally signed by an identified developer. 

If it hasn’t been signed, then the app will be blocked and won’t be allowed to run on your system. This helps keep you safe from potentially dangerous or malicious software that could harm your Mac or steal private information. 

To get started with Gatekeeper on your Mac, you’ll need to enable it in System Preferences. First, open the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Then, click on Security & Privacy and find the General tab. You'll see a section labeled “Allow apps downloaded from:” - make sure that this is set to Mac App Store and identified developers. 

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that helps protect your Mac from unauthorized access. When you enable 2FA, you will be asked to provide two pieces of information - a password and another form of authentication - to log in or make changes to your account. This extra step means that even if someone obtains your password, they won't be able to gain access without the second factor.

With 2FA enabled, you’ll need more than just your username and password to gain access to your account—you’ll also need a second authentication method, like a code sent via SMS or an app on your smartphone. Here’s how to get started: 

1. Open the System Preferences app in MacOS and select Users & Groups. 

2. Choose Login Options from the menu at the top of the window and click “Enable Two-Factor Authentication…” 

3. Enter your Apple ID credentials when prompted. 

4. Select either “Get Verification Codes” or “Set up Two-Factor Authentication.” If you choose the latter, you can select a trusted device to receive authentication codes via SMS or an app on your smartphone like Google Authenticator. 

5. Enter the code sent to your trusted device when prompted and click Enable. 

6. The next time you log in to your account, you will be asked for both your username/password as well as a code from your chosen authentication method. 

Safari Security Features

By leveraging these advanced security features, Safari can help protect you while you browse the internet and ensure that your data remains safe from malicious actors online. 

1. Sandboxing

This advanced security feature isolates each website you visit. It limits what websites can see and do on your device, helping to protect your data from malicious cookies or tracking software. As an added layer of protection, Safari also prevents cross-site tracking by blocking social media “Like” or “Share” buttons and comment widgets that are present on many websites. 

2. Fraudulent Website Warning

Safari warns users when they navigate to a site that has been flagged as fraudulent or potentially malicious. This helps to protect against phishing attacks which attempt to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and bank account details. 

3. Private Browsing

Private Browsing allows users to browse the web without leaving any trace on their device such as browsing history, search terms, or cookies. This is a great way to protect your personal information and maintain your privacy when browsing the internet. 

4. Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Safari prevents third-party websites from tracking you across different sites by using machine learning to identify trackers and delete their cookies automatically. This helps to lessen the amount of targeted ads that appear in your browser and keep your data safe from prying eyes. 

5. Password Manager

Safari has a built-in password manager which stores all of your passwords in one secure location and even auto-fills them when needed. This helps to keep your accounts safe and make logging in easy. 

6. Block Pop-Ups

Safari automatically blocks most pop-ups that appear on webpages, helping to protect against potentially malicious websites. 

7. Automatic Updates

To help protect users from security threats, Safari is constantly updated with the latest security patches and updates. This ensures that your device is always running the most secure version of Safari available. 

Keeping Your MacOS Up-to-Date

Keeping your MacOS up-to-date is critical for protecting yourself from cyberattacks. New security updates help keep your Mac secure by patching newly discovered vulnerabilities and making sure that malicious programs can’t access your important data. Without the latest updates, you risk exposing yourself to hackers and putting your personal information in danger. 

Updates also provide new features which make it easier to use your computer and enhance its performance. For example, a recent update may allow you to use new applications or provide faster loading times.

Keeping your Mac secure and up to date is key. Fortunately, it's easy to make sure you're running the latest security patches and updates on macOS. 

The best way to ensure that you're always running the most secure version of macOS is to regularly check for software updates by going into System Preferences > Software Update. You can also enable automatic updates in this section if you want your computer to update itself without any manual intervention. 

It's also a good idea to install anti-virus software and firewall protection as an extra layer of security. There are many free and low-cost options available online. Installing these will help protect your system from malicious attacks, viruses, and other potential threats. 

Common cyberattacks on Mac

Macs are very popular these days, and with good reason: they’re reliable and secure. Yet, just like any other computer system, Macs can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

1. Malware. This is malicious software designed to damage your Mac, steal data or gain access to your personal information. It can be spread via email attachments, downloads and drive-by installations (where you unknowingly download a program while visiting an infected website). 

2. Phishing scams. These are cyberattacks where a person attempts to acquire confidential data such as credit card numbers and passwords by disguising themselves as a trustworthy source. They will often use emails, text messages, phone calls or websites that appear legitimate in order to persuade you into sharing this information with them. 

3. Denial of service attacks. This type of attack floods the victim's computer or network with traffic from multiple sources in order to overload the system. This then causes the computer or network to become inaccessible and prevents it from working properly.

4. Password cracking. Cybercriminals can use special software to try and crack passwords that you have used on websites or applications. They will often use common words, phrases and patterns in order to guess your passwords and gain access to confidential information. 

5. Social engineering attacks. These are attempts to manipulate people into giving away their private information such as passwords and credit card details by using deception, manipulation or even threats. They will usually involve someone pretending to be a legitimate organization like a bank or government agency to gain access to confidential data. 

6. Man-in-the-middle attack. This is when a hacker intercepts communication between two parties in order to gain access to confidential data or information. The hacker will insert themselves into the middle of the transmission, making it appear as though they are both communicating with each other. But in reality, the hacker has access to the entire conversation. 

7. SQL injection attacks. This type of attack focuses on websites and applications that rely on Structured Query Language (SQL) databases. Hackers can use malicious code to gain access to these databases and steal sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and more. 

8. Ransomware. This is one of the most dangerous types of cyberattacks as it involves hackers locking down your computer or network, then demanding money to give you access again. The attackers can use encryption techniques in order to prevent you from opening any files or applications until the ransom is paid. 

9. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This type of attack involves sending a huge amount of traffic to a particular server or website in order to overwhelm it and make it inaccessible. This can be used as a form of protest against certain websites, but it can also be used for malicious purposes such as stealing confidential data or taking down entire networks.

10. Rogue security software. This type of attack involves hackers using malicious software disguised as legitimate antivirus programs, then attempting to scare people into buying their products to protect their Mac from cyber threats. The malicious software will often display warning messages, fake scans and other pop-ups that are designed to persuade people into buying the “security” product. 

11. Spam emails. These are emails sent by hackers or scammers in an attempt to gain access to confidential information such as usernames and passwords. They will use deceptive tactics such as offering free gifts or services, asking for donations or even claiming to be government agencies to try and get people to reveal personal data. 

What to do if you Mac was cyber attacked

Now that you have identified a cyber attack on your Mac, it’s time to create an action plan. Here are the steps you should take: 

1. Disconnect from the Internet. As soon as you realize that your Mac has been attacked, disconnect it from the internet and any other networks. This will help keep the attackers from spreading or stealing more data. 

2. Back up important files. Make sure all of your documents, photos, videos and other important files are backed up to an external storage device such as a USB drive or cloud service like Dropbox. This will help protect them in case they’re infected or deleted by the attackers. 

3. Scan for malware. Download and run an anti-malware program to scan and remove any malicious software installed on your Mac. If a virus is detected, quarantine it so that it can’t cause further damage. 

4. Change all passwords. Change all of your online passwords for websites, email accounts, and other services you use. This will help prevent the attackers from gaining access to them in the future. 

5. Update security software. Check if your security and antivirus programs are up-to-date with the latest patches and definitions so they can detect potential threats more effectively. 

6. Contact the authorities. If you think personal information has been stolen or compromised, contact law enforcement so they can investigate the incident. 

7. Stay vigilant. Finally, stay vigilant and monitor your Mac for any suspicious activity or changes in performance. This will help you catch any potential cyberattacks quickly so that you can take appropriate action. 

Final thoughts

In summary, MacOS has a number of security features that are designed to protect your data and keep your computer safe from malicious actors. These features range from basic password protection to advanced encryption and firewalls. While there is no guarantee that these measures will completely prevent an attack, they can significantly reduce the chance of it occurring. With regular updates and vigilance, you can be sure that your system is secure against any threats that may arise.
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