Mac security tips

Gatineau Park, Quebec

During the past twelve months, 23.47% of visits to this blog have been from Mac users. Since there are so many of them out there, I though I would share a few tips on Mac security. Out of the box, OS X does beat Windows XP on security – partly for design reasons and partly because it isn’t as worthwhile to come up with malware that attacks an operating system with a minority of users. Even so, taking some basic precautions is worthwhile. The number one tip is behavioural, rather than technical. Be cautious in the websites and emails you view, the files you download, and the software you install.

Here are more detailed guides from a company called Corsair (which I know nothing about) and from the American National Security Agency (who knew they used Macs?). The first link is specific to Tiger (10.4), while the latter is about the older Panther (10.3). I expect they will both remain largely valid for the upcoming Leopard (10.5).

Some more general advice I wrote earlier: Protecting your computer.

PS. I am curious about the one person in the last orbit who accessed this site using OS/2 Warp, back on February 17th. I hope it was one of the nuns from the ads.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “Mac security tips”

  1. I thought people bought Macs specifically to avoid needing to worry about this garbage.

  2. Should I be worried you know all this stuff?

    You mean in terms of the server access logs? Virtually every site you visit keeps track of who has been using it. Companies like DoubleClick also track individual users between sites.

    You are a lot less anonymous on the internet than you might think.

    I thought people bought Macs specifically to avoid needing to worry about this garbage.

    Perhaps they do, but I don’t think they are justified in that attitude. Whether they are concerned for their own systems or simply want to avoid being conduits for attacks against others, they need to think about security.

  3. Some other interesting statistics on

    During the past year, the site has had 40,467 visits. They have included 119,768 page views. 57.76% of people who visit the site view only one page. On average, each visitor spends three minutes and thirteen seconds on the site before leaving, viewing an average of 2.96 pages.

    46.13% of the traffic in the last year came from computers that had not previously viewed the page.

    There were more visitors on March 22nd than on any other day.

    27.21% of visitors arrive at the site directly, probably after simply typing in the URL. 36.77% follow links from other sites, while 36.00% find the site using search engines. 32.24% of all visitors find the site via Google. 4.61% follow links from Facebook.

    The site received 5,400 visits from people on the Oxford network. Second most popular is Shaw Communications, with 2,196 visitors.

    The top ten keywords by which people find the site: (# of searches this year)
    1) sindark (719)
    2) sibilant (564)
    3) emily paddon (352)
    4) “noah houghton” (351)
    5) a sibilant (184)
    6) “milan ilnyckyj” (172)
    7) “tim soutphommasane” (159)
    8) sibilant intake (150)
    9) ashley thorvaldson (149)
    10) kowalewski (149)

    For some reason this entry praising Planet Earth is the most popular one on the site. That is probably because it links to this picture of a tiger.

  4. Apple Quietly Recommends Antivirus Software For Macs

    “After years of boasting about the Mac’s near invincibility, Apple is now advising its customers to install security software on their computers. Apple — which has continually played on Windows’ vulnerability to viruses in its advertising campaigns — issued the advice in a low-key message on its support forums. ‘Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.’ It goes on to recommend a handful of products.”

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