9th August 2017

Keeping Your Mac Safe On Holiday

Being a business owner has many benefits. However, at this time of year life as an employee looks rather attractive. That thought that you could go away on a 2-week holiday leaving your computer idle at your desk, away from emails and telephone calls seems like bliss.

In your suitcase, however, right beside your speedos and suntan lotion is your Mac. You tell yourself that you will try and not think about the business, but orders will come in and queries will be raised that require you to access your Mac. So, if you are taking your Mac away, what do you need to consider to make it safe?

Some of the obvious things to consider are to make sure that it your Mac is insured against accidental damage and theft while travelling. The cost of doing this is going to be far cheaper than replacing an expensive MacBook Pro.

A protective case is also a good idea. A hard shell type will not only protect your Mac against the person who drops your bag from the overhead locker, but it will also help to disguise that Apple logo. Making your Mac look less Mac-like when you sit around the pool will help make you less of a target for would-be thieves.

All of our Mac computers come with AppleCare and we would certainly encourage you to have the number on speed dial. AppleCare is a worldwide cover and will give you access to 24/7 telephone support. It will also allow you to take your Mac into any Apple store in the world and get it repaired should it develop a fault whilst you are away.

If your hotel room only comes with a small safe also, consider investing in a computer lock for your Mac. This will allow you to lock your Mac to something solid within your hotel room, preventing it from being easily stolen from your room.

When it comes to protecting your data, there are a number of areas that you need to give real consideration to. Many of these centre on the fact that, when you are travelling, you may want to connect to public WiFi. Whether this is in the airport, at a café or in your hotel, you are at risk if you use a public network. For those skilled in the dark arts a public network makes it relatively easy to monitor your activity or place you at risk to a ‘man in the middle’ attack.

There are a number of steps that we would recommend taking. Firstly, ensure that you have an up to date anti-virus programme installed. We use ESET but Intego have some great products for Mac users. Also, disable network sharing and Bluetooth in your system preferences. Both of these will make it harder for you to be seen on a public network.

Also, avoid entering sensitive information over a public network.  If you feel that over your holidays that you will be required to do this and only have access to a public network, then consider using Virtual Private Network software (VPN). These encrypt all data from your Mac, protecting it from people attempting to grab data to look for user names, passwords, credit card numbers and alike.

If you do have the misfortune to have your Mac stolen there are a number of measures that you can take to protect your data before the event. The first is to enable Apple’s FileVault full disk encryption. Once this is enabled, as soon as your Mac is shut down its entire drive is encrypted and locked up. Only when an authorised user turns the Mac on and logs in are the drive’s contents unlocked. You can enable FileVault by going through Security and Privacy settings in System Preferences.

Having a backup is always essential regardless of when you are travelling or not. We use Time Machine for a physical backup, but we also have a Cloud backup allowing us to access our data, should our Macs ever be stolen.

Make sure that you also turn on Find My Mac. If the Mac goes missing while you’re away, you can use this handy bit of software from an iOS device, a computer or an Internet café to track down its location.  More importantly if you think it’s been stolen, you can wipe it remotely to keep your data safe.

Also, don’t forget to update all of your apps before going away. Not only will this give you the most up to date security patches, but it will stop you eating into any expensive data plan you may have while you are away.

Finally, within hours of arriving, you find yourself in front of your Mac. You have already broken your promise to yourself that you won’t respond to emails as soon as they come in, but here you are. Then it happens. You get that notification in the top right-hand side of your screen saying that your battery is running low and your Mac is about to go to sleep. Now where did you leave that charger…