How to use your Mac safely in public places

How to use your Mac safely in public places

Coffee shops across the planet are populated by earnest Apple Mac-wielding remote and/or freelance workers – but are they taking steps to protect themselves in a public place? Follow this checklist to make sure you are protected.

12 ways to use your Mac safely in public places

1. Worry about Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are dangerous places, not least because you don’t really know how the network is set up or who else is sitting on the same network with you.

Criminals are known to set up legitimate-seeming hotspots on which their software lurks, attempting to take data (including your bank and intranet passcodes) in transit. Please beware:

  • Do: Make sure the network you are accessing is really the network that belongs to the place you are in – just because someone has called their network Coffee Bean Net doesn’t mean it is the network that officially belongs to the shop.
  • Don’t: Access your financial, personal, confidential, or medical records over unsecured public Wi-Fi – you’re better off setting up your own iPhone hotspot and using that when accessing services like that in a public place.
  • Do: Delete free networks from your Mac once you have used them. Your Mac is unable to determine if a network you are accessing is the genuine network and will simply go by name.

2. Use a VPN

If you use a VPN from a reputable company, you can make yourself a great deal safer when working in that coffee shop beside your gig economy mates.

I don’t recommend using a free service, as they can suffer poor performance and some are insecure, more reputable services include NordVPN, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN, as explained here. These things create secure and encrypted tunnels to your VPN provider, which means you can carry on working on whatever you are working on in relative security, even on a public network.

3. Switch on your firewall

Firewalls try to prevent unauthorized people or software from accessing your Mac if they happen to be on the same network. Apple has a built-in protection against this in the form of the macOS firewall. This should be on by default, but you should check:

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