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Securing Your Mac Against Theft

LegoThief

We’ve written a lot in the past about the importance of backups, about how password managers help you with strong passwords, and about some of the reasons to use cloud-based apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync, or SpiderOak. All of these things provide some peace of mind about the integrity and security of your data.

But what if someone steals your machine? (Or even just inadvertently walks away with *your* machine, out of a sea of similar ones?)

On Tuesday Jeff Reifman published an excellent overview of ways to secure your Mac against theft (via The Loop). In addition to the strategies mentioned above, Reifman shows the value of three important steps:

  • Encrypting your hard drive by turning on FileVault. Outside the context of outright theft, I would say that as colleges have become more and more attentive to securing personally identifiable information, this is a good step in general. He also shows how to encrypt any external drives.
  • Setting a firmware password so that a bad guy can’t wipe your hard drive. (This was new to me.)
  • Setting up a guest account on your computer, which allows the ability to browse the web. While this seems counterintuitive, you actually want the person who has your machine to go online, even if briefly, so that Find My Mac or similar antitheft software can find it on the network.

It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing. He also explains the value of password managers in getting logins out of your browser and behind encryption, and various other elements of security.

How about you? How do you secure your computer against theft? (Comments from Windows/Linux users might be especially helpful given Reifman’s Mac focus!)

Photo Thief! 4 by Flickr user FHKE / Creative Commons licensed BY-SA-2.0

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