Secure and Manage Your Computer (Mac)
If you are permitted to access or maintain sensitive institutional data using your personally owned computer or your self-managed university-owned computer, please meet the minimum expectations below. See University Data and Personally Owned Devices for a complete list of your responsibilities when accessing 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. Follow these guidelines for a strong password. Require the password when your computer sleeps or the screen saver is activated. Look in System Preferences under Security & Privacy for the General tab.
- Set your screen saver to activate after 15 or fewer minutes of inactivity, and require your password to unlock it. Look in System Preferences under Desktop & Screen Saver.
- 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. Look in System Preferences under Security & Privacy.
- Turn on the built-in firewall. Look in System Preferences under Security & Privacy.
- Install the U-M VPN if you expect to use untrusted networks (such as guest wireless in a hotel or coffee shop). UMHS faculty and staff should use
* U-M Health System (UMHS) faculty and staff should use the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client provided by Medical Center Information Technology (MCIT) to access Protected Health Information (PHI), Clinical Network and Applications, Schedulon, and Printing, as well as to access file servers and internal UMHS web content. For more information, installers, and instructions, see VPN - Cisco AnyConnect SSL Client in the UMHS KnowledgeBase.
- Use secure networks, such as wired connections or MWireless.
- Turn on the U-M VPN if using untrusted wireless networks (such as guest wireless in a hotel or coffee shop). UMHS faculty and staff should use
- Turn off optional network connections (WiFi, Bluetooth) when you are not using them.
- 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 to take advantage of security updates and other improvements.
- Do not root, jailbreak, or otherwise unlock your device. This bypasses security features. Do not do this unless it is required for your university work.
- Only install trusted applications.
- 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.
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.
- Follow the Mobile Computing Guidelines When Traveling or Conducting Field Research to protect your computer when traveling.
- Encrypt your desktop. Turn on FileVault to encrypt the contents of your hard drive. Look in System Preferences under Security & Privacy.
Related U-M Policies and Standards