How to Set Security Options with OS X Mavericks

The General tab of the OS X Mavericks Security & Privacy System Preferences pane offers several options that can help keep your data safe. They are

  • Change Password: Click this button to change the password for your user account.

  • Require Password after Sleep or Screen Saver Begins: Enable this option if you want your Mac to lock itself up and require a password after the screen saver kicks in or it goes to sleep. It can become a pain in the butt, having to type your password all the time.

  • But if you have nosy coworkers, family members, or other individuals you’d like to keep from rooting around in your stuff, you should probably enable this option.

    When enabled, this option offers a pop-up menu that lets you specify how long after sleep or screen saver this password protection should kick in. The options range from immediately to four hours.

  • Show a Message When the Screen Is Locked: Type the message you want on your screen when it’s locked in this text entry box.

  • Disable Automatic Login: One of the login options in the Users & Groups System Preferences pane is automatic login. With automatic login enabled, you don’t have to choose an account or type a password when you start up this Mac. Instead, it bypasses all that login stuff and goes directly to the Desktop of the designated account.

  • If you want to disable this feature for all accounts — so that every user of this Mac sees the login screen and is required to choose an account and type a password — you should enable this option.

  • Allow Apps Downloaded from:

    Last, but certainly not least (at least with regard to the General tab), is a feature called Gatekeeper, which helps protect you from downloading and running malicious software by limiting the applications your Mac can run.

    You have three mutually exclusive options —Mac App Store, Mac App Store and Identified Developers, or Anywhere. Click the radio button next to the level of protection you desire and the other two options are automatically deselected.

    Here’s what they do:

    • Mac App Store: This option allows you to run only apps you download from the Mac App Store. It’s the safest and most restrictive setting.

    • Mac App Store and Identified Developers: Apple offers a Developer ID program to certified members of the Mac Developers Program. Apple gives them a unique Developer ID, which allows Gatekeeper to verify that their app is not known malware and that it hasn’t been tampered with. If an app doesn’t have a Developer ID associated with it, Gatekeeper can let you know before you install it.

      This is probably the best choice for most users. It allows third-party apps from Apple-vetted vendors, such as Microsoft, Adobe, and thousands more. It’s a lot less restrictive than the Mac App Store option and a lot safer than choosing Anywhere.

    • Anywhere: What its name suggests; this option lets you run any app, no matter where it came from.

Finally, the Privacy tab of the Security & Privacy System Preferences pane has several potentially useful options:

  • To Enable or Disable Location Services: Click Location Services on the left and you’ll see a list of apps that are allowed to use your computer’s current location. Check or uncheck these apps to enable/disable their use of Location Services.

  • To Enable or Disable Other Apps Access to your Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders: Click Contacts, Calendars, or Reminders in the list on the left and apps with access to their contents will appear on the right. Check or uncheck the checkbox for each app to enable/disable its permission to access Contacts, Calendars, or Reminders.

  • To Enable or Disable Apps Allowed to Control Your Computer: Click Accessibility in the list on the left, and apps allowed to control your computer appear on the right. Check or uncheck the check box for each app to enable/disable its permission to control your computer.

  • To Automatically Send Anonymous Diagnostic & Usage Data to Apple: Click Diagnostics and Usage in the list on the left and then select the Send Diagnostic & Usage Data to Apple check box.

  • This sends details of system crashes, apps that quit unexpectedly, freezes, or kernel panics (anonymously) to the mothership in Cupertino, Apple’s world HQ, where engineers pore over the data and issue software updates to eliminate the bugs.

    At least that’s the theory. . . .

And that’s all you need to know about security and privacy (or at least enough to make you dangerous).

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