When you connect your MacBook to public Wi-Fi, you’re essentially leaving your data exposed to cybercriminals. You can never know if the network has been deliberately set up to steal your credentials.
In this scenario, it makes sense to use a connection you have control over, such as a personal hotspot on your iPhone or iPad. However, if that’s not possible, you’re advised to follow the checklist below to make sure your data is protected:
9 Ways to Use Your MacBook Safely On the Go
1. Turn Off Sharing
You can share the files and folders on your MacBook with other computers, but this should be avoided unless you’re connected to your home or office network. Besides, it opens up the possibility of your Mac getting infected with malware or cybercrooks gaining access to your private information when you use public Wi-Fi.
File-sharing is disabled by default on Mac, but you should double-check this to be on the safe side. Open System Preferences > Sharing and confirm if the File Sharing checkbox is unchecked. Similarly, don’t forget to disable the other sharing options as well like Screen Sharing and Remote Login – these can be reactivated later!
2. Disable Guest Account
Did you know that macOS has a Guest User feature? It provides a convenient means for other people to use your Mac without having access to your files and sensitive data. However, this is a bad idea from a security standpoint because they could potentially use it to access unsafe and malicious websites.
Hence, you’re better off disabling Guest User by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Now click Guest User and uncheck the Allow guests to log in to this computer checkbox.
3. Use a VPN
Never make the mistake of using an unsecured public Wi-Fi – one where you aren’t required to enter a password – without taking adequate security measures. After all, you wouldn’t want hackers to monitor and intercept the traffic passing between your MacBook and the network.
By using a Mac VPN, you can establish an encrypted connection through which your information is routed such as passwords, emails, and credit card numbers. Consequently, it becomes close to impossible for anyone to harvest your personal data or know which websites you have visited.
4. Install Security-Focused Extensions
It’s no secret that Windows is the most malware-ridden operating system. Therefore, by merely choosing a MacBook, you’re already protected from the vast majority of malware types that wreak havoc on devices.
Some public Wi-Fi providers, however, will ask you to connect via an ad-supported captive portal that could link to malicious content. Here, extensions like AdBlock Plus or AdGuard prove useful as they’ll prevent such ads from loading in the first place.
You should also install the HTTPS Everywhere extension, which automatically forces websites to use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). In this way, the communications between you and the site are encrypted so that nobody can eavesdrop on them.
5. Set Up Find My Mac
In the unfortunate event that you lose your Mac or it gets stolen, the Find My Mac function can be a lifesaver. Not only does it display the last known location of your device, but also gives you the option to lock your MacBook remotely.
For this, visit System Preferences > iCloud and check the Find My Mac checkbox. Though the feature works only when your MacBook is online and requires your location services to be turned on, it might help you to track down your machine.
6. Use Two-Factor Authentication
One of the simplest yet effective ways to protect your online accounts is to use two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA. Once activated, it requests a special code from a device you own (typically your iPhone) every time your account is accessed from an unknown location.
This means that if someone is trying to break into your account, they’ll not only need to know your password but also have access to your device. Many online services and social media sites offer two-factor authentication, but the exact steps to set it up will vary between platform to platform.
You also need to download and install a 2FA app on your iPhone, such as Google Authenticator, Authy, and Step Two.
7. Encrypt Mac Data
By encrypting the data on your MacBook, you can make it impossible for others to access it. If you’re using a Mac made in the last few years, FileVault encryption will most likely be enabled by default on your machine.
Related Read: How to Encrypt Your Smartphone
As a result, thieves won’t be able to gain access to your data without knowing the correct password. To check if FileVault is enabled, head over to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault.
8. Create Secure Passwords
If you use your MacBook for sensitive tasks like remotely accessing your company’s intranet, it’s important to use a secure password. However, refrain from using common passwords like “1234567890” or “Qwerty”.
Lists of such passwords are sold over the dark web, making it easy for the bad guys to brute-force their way into your device. We’d highly recommend going through our password security guide to learn how to create secure passwords.
9. Use On-Screen Keyboard
You can fall victim to keylogger attacks if you use your MacBook in public, and they’re rather simple to carry out as well. Every single keystroke that you make is monitored and recorded to steal information like passwords.
If you’re under the suspicion that a keylogger is installed on your Mac, you can make life difficult for snoopers by using the on-screen keyboard. So, the next time you’re entering something sensitive in nature, launch System Preferences > Accessibility.
Then scroll down to Keyboard and click Accessibility Keyboard, where you’ll be able to enable the on-screen keyboard and customize it accordingly.
Wrapping Things Up
And that’s about it. Follow the measures we’ve recommended above to stay safe out there while using your MacBook!