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ITS Safe Computing

Secure and Manage Your Computer (Mac)

If you are permitted to access or maintain sensitive institutional data using your personally owned computer or self-managed university-owned computer, please meet the minimum expectations below.

See Your Responsibilities for Protecting University Data When Using Your Own Devices for a complete list of your responsibilities when using your own devices to work with sensitive U-M data.

By meeting the minimum expectations below, you also protect your personal data.

Minimum Expectations for a Secure Device

Require a password for access to your computer Require the password when your computer sleeps or the screen saver is activated. Do not allow automatic login. In System Preferences, choose Security & Privacy, then the General tab. Follow these guidelines for a strong password.
Set your screen saver to activate after 15 or fewer minutes of inactivity, and require your password to unlock it In System Preferences, choose Desktop & Screen Saver, then set activation time.
Install and use anti-virus software See Anti-Virus Protection at U-M.
Turn on FileVault (for laptops) to encrypt the contents of your hard drive In System Preferences, choose Security & Privacy, then the FileVault tab.
Turn on the built-in firewall In System Preferences, choose Security & Privacy, then the Filewall tab.
Install U-M VPN (Virtual Private Network) software if you expect to use untrusted networks (such as guest wireless in a hotel or coffee shop) Members of the U-M community can download and install the U-M VPN or the one appropriate for their campus. See Use a Secure Internet Connection.

Use a secure internet connection Secure networks include wired connections and MWireless.
Turn on the U-M VPN if using untrusted wireless networks (such as guest wireless in a hotel or coffee shop). (UMHS users should use the UMHS VPN (see above). The U-M and UMHS VPNs—Virtual Private Networks— provide a secure computing experience when accessing a U-M network from a remote location or when using a wireless connection.
Turn off optional network connections (WiFi, Bluetooth) when you are not using them. This prevents unauthorized access to your computer through those connections.

Keep your Mac OS updated to take advantage of security updates and other improvements We recommend that people avoid connecting to U-M networks from machines running Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and older.
Keep your applications updated This is to take advantage of security updates and other improvements.
Only install trusted applications Only install applications from reputable software providers.
Be aware of where data is being stored and store sensitive university data only in approved locations.
  • Check the Sensitive Data Guide for services approved for use with sensitive data.
  • Do not store files in the cloud with iCloud Drive if you work with sensitive university data. With OS X 10.10 "Yosemite," use of iCloud for syncing Documents & Data is enabled automatically. Turn this off in System Preferences --> iCloud; uncheck the Documents & Data checkbox.
  • Many Microsoft applications let you share files using OneDrive (Microsoft cloud storage). Do not do this if you work with sensitive university data.
Be aware that certain types of sensitive data (such as Export Control, HIPAA, and FISMA) cannot be accessed or maintained outside the U.S. See the Sensitive Data Guide for details.
Before you sell or give away your computer, erase the hard drive securely. See Encrypt and Securely Delete Files (Mac).
Report security incidents If you use your computer to maintain or access sensitive institutional data and it is lost or stolen, notify the ITS Service Center.
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Additional Best Practices

Consider these additional options for enhanced security for your computer and the data maintained on or accessed from it.

  • Back up your data. Always keep a backup copy of files you do not wish to lose. Hard drives wear out and fail. Devices can be lost or stolen. The university offers several file storage options you can use. Check the Sensitive Data Guide to see which services are appropriate for certain types of sensitive institutional data.
  • Choose web browser security settings that protect your privacy and enhance security.
  • Protect yourself online. Learn about strong passwords, how to protect your identity, how to avoid phishing scams, and more.
  • Put a sticker on your computer with your name and contact information. This low-tech, practical step enables somebody to contact you if they find your lost computer.
  • Register your devices. The U-M Police Department offers a free laptop and personal electronics registration program to members of the U-M community to deter theft and assist in the recovery of stolen property.
  • Traveling with technology. Take precautions when you are away from home to protect your privacy and the university's sensitive data.
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