How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld

FileVault 2 can make nations quake, apparently, but it’s just a bit of good information hygiene, letting you make choices about the degree of vulnerability you want to tolerate for your locally stored data and any software or stored passwords for services in your accounts. With it off, you’re not risking everything, but with it on, you have a high degree of assurance about who can access what.

My son’s MacBook Air got stolen last year when his apartment was burglarized. We spent a lot of time together changing passwords. With File Vault, we wouldn’t have had to do that. I strongly recommend using File Vault.

How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld.

Keep Flash Out of Your Face, and Protect Your Computer from Malware, with ClickToPlugin

I’ve long used the ClickToPlugin extension in Safari to prevent plug-ins from loading on web pages. This blocks Flash and other media plug-ins from running, and shows you a placeholder when you load a page with an element that is blocked.

It’s especially useful to block those annoying, moving Flash ads that serve no purpose other than to distract you from reading a web page.

Clicktoflash placeholder

If you do want to load the Flash animation, just click it. (Well, don’t click the one above; it’s just a screenshot.)

As Graham Cluley points out in his security blog, this plug-in can also protect you from Flash zero-day vulnerabilities that can infect your computer; since Flash can’t run, the vulnerability can’t be exploited. Sometimes, the Flash animations that serve malware are tiny, and you don’t even see them.

There are two versions of the plug-in: ClickToFlash, that only blocks Flash, and ClickToPlugin, that blocks other media player plug-ins, and that also tries to force the plug-in to switch to Safari’s built-in HTML5 media player.

This saves time, battery power and bandwidth, and keeps your annoyance level low. And it protects you from annoying Flash animations.

You may simply want to uninstall Flash; you can do that, but you may find that you actually need it from time to time. I find this to be the best solution: I can load the Flash animations if I want to, but, if not, I’m not bothered.

If you use a browser other than Safari, see Graham Cluley’s article for links to plug-ins that work in other browsers.

iOS 8 Restrictions: Parental Controls Overview for Parents

You know that the internet is a source of knowledge and information, and, if you have children, you are probably torn between allowing them the freedom to explore and the desire to protect them from inappropriate content. On OS X, you can set Parental Controls, and you can adjust settings so your children can’t download just anything from the iTunes Store or App Store. You can apply settings to social media accounts to protect your kids’ privacy. And, on iOS, you can adjust a full range of settings to control what your children see on the internet, and which apps they can use.

In this article, I’m going to look at Restrictions, the iOS version of parental controls. Apple’s iOS 8 Restrictions let you lock down your kids’ iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

There are a lot of settings, so be prepared to take a few minutes to go through them and adjust them so they are appropriate for your child’s age. Be aware that if you simply enable restrictions, without tweaking individual settings, most of them are set, by default, to be appropriate for the youngest of children. But you should still go through all the settings when you have time to make sure you agree with all of them.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Protect Children’s Privacy on Social Media

If your kids use social media, as all kids do, you may be worried about protecting their privacy. Teenagers may be a bit unconcerned about such things, and not care who reads their Facebook posts, their Twitter feeds, or sees their photos on Instagram. As a parent, you know how important it is to keep your kids’ online life out of the public domain, as much as possible.

You can explain to your children why this is important, and help them choose the right settings to protect their privacy. They can always go back and change the settings, of course; you can’t lock their Facebook or SnapChat settings. But if you have a serious conversation about privacy, you can work together with your children to apply the appropriate settings.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How To: Block Spammers in OS X’s Messages App

Every now and then, I get spam in Messages on OS X. I assume that the spammers just try addresses at random; or they may have harvested a bunch of mac.com, me.com, and icloud.com addresses and target them. Lately, I’ve been getting one or more a day.

Messages spam

As you can see above, the spammers send links, hoping you’ll click them. You’ll either end up on pages asking you to log into something, or the web pages could serve malware directly to your Mac.

These are annoying, but it’s easy to block these people to ensure that you don’t get any more messages from them. Right-click on an avatar in the sidebar, and choose Block [username]. This tells Messages to no longer accept messages from that user. You can block users who contact you by sending iMessages, or who send you messages over AIM.

How To Turn On Apple’s Two-Step Authentication

You’ve heard the stories about iCloud accounts getting hacked; the ones that make the news are celebrities’ accounts, but there may be people wanting to get into yours too. In addition to your Apple ID—the email address you use to identify your account—your password is the key that lets you into that account.

But anyone can pretend to be you, and attempt to get into your account, saying they’ve forgotten the password, and then attempting to answer the security questions that you chose when setting up the Apple ID. If they get through them, because they know the name of your first pet, your favorite sports team, and whatever else, they can access your account. Unless you add an additional layer of security.

Read the article on the Intego Mac Security blog.