When is the last time you updated all your software? Made a backup? Inspected your firewall logs? Changed your passwords? We tend to get busy in our daily lives and certain security measures are forgotten. A backup is no good if you forget to make it. Passwords need to be changed from time to time. Updates have to be installed. A great tool built right in to OS X can help you plan and remember all these tasks, it’s called Calendar (or iCal in older versions of OS X). Here are some of the reminders I use:
Every week – Check Time Machine backup
Time Machine is set to automatically back up all my data every 4 hours but i’ve had Time Machine fail in the past. Random files or whole directories were excluded (not by me) or entire weeks of backups were simply not there even though it reported successful backups every day. So now I check my Time Machine backups every week. I simply open the hard drive, browse to the ‘latest’ folder, see if all hard drives/partitions are listed and I check for some of the most important directories.
Every week – Change Passwords Level 1
Level 1 just reminds me that these are my most important passwords. Online banking, logins to certain servers and services that are very important to me and services that have had security breaches in the past and/or do not use two-factor authentication yet. Even if the passwords to any of these services are compromised, by the time they are decrypted I will have changed it.
Every two / three weeks – Change Passwords Level 2
Level 2 is basically anything else I use a password for. Services that I trust to have excellent security in place, multiple factor authentication, etc. Basically I am assuming that these services are not likely to be compromised or targeted so do not require weekly password changes. Of course my assumption may one day bite me in the ass but changing ALL my passwords every week is a task I simply do not have time for.
Every week – Software updates
– OS X Software Updates
– 3rd party software updates
Not all applications have built-in updaters so I use MacUpdate Desktop to check all my apps for me. Once an update is available I download it straight from the manufacturers website.
– Router, printer and other devices on my network are checked for firmware updates
AirPort Utility for AirPort Extremes, Expresses and Time Capsules. Manufacturer websites for most other brands.
Every day – Check security settings
Sounds like a lot of work but it really isn’t. A quick drive by of the System Preferences > Sharing, Check for Java and Flash Player updates and check their settings, System Preferences > Users & Groups to make sure the guest account is disabled and no other accounts were created, System Preferences > Security & Privacy to ensure the firewall is still on and Little Snitch to see if any connection attempts seem suspicious or out of place. Just to name a few. I have been doing this so long it’s a habit and takes me 5 minutes or less.
These are just a few examples of reminders I have in place. Even things that have become second nature can be forgotten because something else came up or the task was held off to do it later but later you forgot etc. If you don’t have time right now, hit ‘snooze’ so the reminder pops up again later. Ignore it completely and the reminder will be in your notification center until you delete it.