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Low-level security features

  • Turn off auto-login: Auto-login lets your Mac start up without a password—it automatically logs in the person who has “auto-login” turned on in the Accounts preferences (click “Login Options” at the bottom of the list of accounts).

    Then be sure to log out before you leave your computer for a while. This ensures that people walking by will need a password to log back in to your account, even if they restart your Mac. Laptops should always require a login password.

  • If you don't want to turn off auto-login, you might want to take the extra step to uncheck the box to “Show the Restart, Sleep, and Shut Down buttons.” Because if auto-login is on and you log out, the login screen appears. But someone can just click the Restart or Shut Down button, and the computer starts back up again and automatically logs into your account.

    This precaution isn't going to help much if your laptop is stolen because someone can just reboot the computer. Nor will it help if the Restart button is accessible on your desktop machine!

  • Mac OS X lets you have multiple users on one computer, and each user has a separate, private Home area (see Lesson 9 for details). Even if you are the only one using this Mac, you can create another user, a standard user who has no administrative privileges, and log in as the standard one. This is a simple step that just makes it one level more difficult for someone to get into your main account and make system-wide changes. It won't protect any data that you create as that user, but it will make it more difficult to get to any data you create as the Administrator.

To prevent access to anyone walking by your computer, you can use these simple yet effective features:


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