Mac users may have lots of valuable data stored on their precious device. Unless you are sharing this data on a cloud, you are prone to data loss. Here are some housekeeping rules I am using to mitigate the risks of such data loss, without the use of cloud services, but relying on my own external hard drives.
The foundation of a good housekeeping is your folder organisation: keep oversight of where your files are stored. Mac OS will help you and will suggest the default locations for pictures, movies, music and documents. It is wise to use these locations and create any subfolders according to your needs. Mail files, Contacts and Calendar data are stored in (hidden) Library folders (read also “Mac OS X file locations“) and are not easy to locate. Hence, I use an alternative way to backup and archive this information:
Select Inbox and use the “Export Mailbox” function in the Mailbox tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mailbag’). You need to repeat this for each mailbox, including the folders ‘On my Mac’. If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the files directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Use the “Export” to “Contacts Archive” function in the File tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mycontacts’). If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the file directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Use the “Export” to “Calendar Archive” function in the File tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mycalendar’). If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the file directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Backup your files
Make regular backups of your data on an external drive and store it in a safe place.
Fraudsters frequently use tactics such as fake phone calls, texts and emails to obtain your information, perhaps claiming to represent your bank, your utility companies, or even the police. To maintain your personal and financial security, be sure to be on your guard for:
• Vishing: a telephone call from someone claiming to represent your bank, intended to coerce you into sending your money to another account or handing over cash/cards.
• Phishing: an email, which looks like it’s from us, designed to trick you into providing personal and financial information.
• Smishing (SMS phishing): a text message, which looks like it is from us, designed to trick you into providing personal and financial information by calling a number or clicking a link.
• Be wary of unsolicited requests for your personal information, such as usernames, passwords or bank details.
• If a phone call seems suspicious, don’t be afraid to hang up and call your bank on a known number – use a different phone line where possible.
• If an email looks suspicious, do not click on links or download documents.
• If you have suspicions regarding a text message claiming to be from the bank, call your bank on a known number to check before acting on it.
Get the best out of your wi-fi access point and router by choosing the right place in your home.
The best place may not always be convenient for you, so it may need some extra cabling between your ISP’s modem and your wi-fi router. But even the best router on the market will not perform well if you place it in the wrong spot. Consider these tips to get the best coverage and stable wi-fi connections:
Place your wi-fi access point or router in a central location in the middle of your home rather than at one end. Solid surfaces slow down wi-fi speeds and a central location reduces the number of walls it has to go through. The thicker the wall, the harder it is for the wi-fi signal to pass through. Hiding away the router in a corner may not be a good choice.
Don’t put it on the floor. Try and position it on a shelf, cupboard or table. Do not put it in a cupboard or closet, which will reduce the wi-fi signal speed and distance. Wi-fi signals go down as well as up, so if you put it on the floor, a proportion of the signal will go through the floorboards. Compare the signal performance with a light bulb. Mounting the light on the ceiling shines better.
Keep your wi-fi access point or router away from material that can reflect the signal and dispersing it: metal objects like a TV, mirrors and glassware. Water can absorb the wi-fi signal, so it reduces the travel distance of the signal. Also micro-waves may interfere with the wi-fi signal.
Finally, test your wi-fi signal before you settle with the location of your access point or router. Connect as many devices as possible from the different and the most used locations in your home. Use streaming services to see if your signal is stable. If you have portable devices, like tablets and smartphones, walk around your home to detect the ‘weak’ spots. The position of the antenna(s) or the position of the router itself (if no external antenna is available) will also influence the performance.
Expats and globetrotters may share the challenge to watch their favourite programmes from home, while accessing the Internet from abroad. You will need a stable and high speed on the local Internet connection to make the VPN work.
No matter the OS platform you selected, a good Anti-Virus scanner is necessary when you connect to the Internet. This especially applies when you exchange information with attachments. Always keep the virus scanner up-to-date. It’s good practice to, at least once a week, check for virus definition updates ! Check my ‘Best of Breed Software‘ page for freeware anti-virus scanners.
Do not participate in the computer virus histeria, rather consult a security guru or an expert. Beware of a hoax, many people like you to panic and to forward unproductive and alarming messages. Before you spread the news first find out the truth and check sites like Hoax-Slayer. Although much safer than a PC, also MACs need protection. Some folks (at securemac.com) give good advice for Mac OS users.
Finally, if you have gone through these recommendations, you can check if all is safe with GRC’s Shields Up.
Good security advice and news also comes from The Cyber Security Coalition for companies and Safeonweb.be for individuals in Belgium.
Victims of misleading practices, fraud or swindle in Belgium can report their case on meldpunt.belgie.be
Commission for the Protection of Privacy
Rue de la Presse 35, 1000 Brussels
Please observe that the preferred languages for contacting the Privacy Commission are Dutch and French.