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  • Mac Security: Protecting a Mac from Being Stolen

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems macOS Mac Security: Protecting a Mac from Being Stolen

    This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan Parker 7 months ago.

    • Author
    • #651071 Reply

      Nathan Parker

      In this week’s Mac Security, I want to discuss physical security of a Mac and how to protect a Mac from being stolen, as well as tracking a stolen Mac if it occurs.

      In the past (and is still the case for older Macs), a great way to protect a Mac from being stolen was to use a security lock cable on the side of the Mac to lock it to a desk. However, most modern Macs don’t offer such a security lock port, so if Mac users need to secure their Macs to a desk, they’ll need to find another way to lock a Mac to a desk (maybe through a docking station). The Apple Store for Business does offer a security lock for iMacs (I use one on my iMac Pro). Mac users will also want to exercise caution and not leave their portable Macs unattended, since Macs are pricey little machines that thieves would love to steal.

      Another good solution every Mac needs enabled is Find My Mac, which uses the same technology as Find My iPhone. It’s a feature of iCloud that can be enabled in the iCloud section of System Preferences, and once enabled, it tracks a Mac’s location in real-time, making it easier to locate in the event a Mac is stolen. Instructions on enabling Find my Mac are available here, as well as additional information here if one’s Mac is lost or stolen. I also recommend enabling the Guest account on macOS (which also works in Safari-only mode when FileVault 2 is enabled) so that the thief can get online with a stolen Mac long enough to allow Find My Mac to track it, but not be able to perform any tampering of the OS itself. Enabling a firmware password can also prevent a Mac from being booted in Recovery mode without the firmware password to prevent Find My Mac from being disabled.

      In the past, I’ve also used Orbicule Undercover on Macs to have the ability to track a stolen Mac if I needed to, and it is a solid Mac-tracking application as well, although Find My Mac is more tightly integrated into macOS.

      Lastly, I recommend ensuring Mac users have a copy of their Mac’s serial number (which can be found by going to the Apple menu and selecting About This Mac) to give to authorities in the event of a stolen Mac.

      Nathan Parker

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #691284 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      I wonder how the Macs get tracked. Is it just by checking from which sites they connected to the Web, by tracing back their browsing? And how is doing this possible for private persons that do not have complete access to their ISP servers?

      For my part, all my PCs have been and still are laptops, but purely for convenience, as they rarely leave the house only to go with me, invariably, to some very secure place. I only once took my very first laptop to Denmark, a Toshiba running Windows 98, back in 1999, when I was staying there for six months visiting at the Technical University of Denmark, in a town near Copenhagen. It weighed nearly five kilos, plus the weight of the bag and accessories, and I did not feel like repeating the experience ever again, just because of that. So I feel a little sad for people that have to lug their portables around all day and also in all their business trips, because their jobs require it.

      I imagine helping them is part of the rationale, these days, for stripping portables to their barest bones, to make them as thinner and lighter as possible while still retaining some mechanical integrity and functionality…

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W(?) + Mac&Lx

    • #710309 Reply

      Nathan Parker

      macOS has a set of location services that can be enabled and managed under Privacy settings in System Preferences (which I need to write an article on as part of the Mac Security series). I believe Macs use Wi-Fi hotspots to determine location using a database that Apple now maintains, but originally licensed from Skyhook Wireless. When I ping the location on my Mac using Maps, it’s pretty accurate. iOS devices also use assisted GPS (GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell tower triangulation). This is separate from the web browser and does not have to do with browsing history, although Apple does allow you to sync browser history between devices using iCloud.

      I mainly use desktops now (an iMac Pro as my main machine, plus an older iMac as a backup), and I use an iPad Pro on-the-go when I need a larger screen than my iPad. My iPad Pro can remote back to my iMac Pro if I need a “desktop” (I can go into remote access in a future article if need be). The iPad Pro is a fraction of the weight of a traditional notebook, plus mine is 4G LTE equipped for cellular backup.

      Years ago I purchased a Sony Vaio notebook running Windows XP Professional (also known as the notebook from hell and the original PC that drove me to a Mac). It was 17″ and about 8 pounds. After I took it up three flights of stairs to my hotel room on my first trip, I wanted to throw it over the balcony (and that was before it gave me all the technical grief). When I went Mac, I purchased a 12″ PowerBook so I could go as small and light as possible on the go. When I had to upgrade to an Intel Mac, I went with a 15″ MacBook Pro for a little more screen size.

      Strangely enough, my 12″ PowerBook from 2006 outlived both MacBook Pro’s. Both were lemons with a range of faulty parts. I dragged my 12″ PowerBook out, and it still boots up. Logic board, display, hard drive, and RAM are solid. The CD drive is starting to go, and the only other thing I had to replace was the battery on it due to a recall. Other than that, this little machine is still running solid with Mac OS X Leopard, 1.25GB of RAM, a 1.5 GHz single core PowerPC G4 chip, and roomy 80GB hard drive. I’ve found a few apps I can throw on it to make it usable, and I may set it up as “another” backup machine and a machine to be nostalgic with. I may write an article about it in the future as well.

      Nathan Parker

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