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Moving to Macs? Don't Forget About Security Six steps small businesses can take to protect their Macs

By Dal Gemmell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many small businesses are moving toward the Mac platform, and it's about more than simply having cool, sleek computers sitting on desks.

Macs are solid, reliable products, especially for small-business owners who are inherently busy and don't have a lot of time or resources committed to IT support.

However, as Mac usage increases within the small-business community, so does the size of the target for cybercriminals. According to Trend Micro's Global Threat Report for 2010, cybercriminals have been busy. The number of malicious Web links increased from 1.5 billion in January to over 3.5 billion in June, with the most located in North America. Cybercriminals are looking to maximize their return on investment for the time and effort they've invested in creating their malicious software. If small businesses are putting their business data on Macs and think it's completely secure and immune from computer viruses, web threats, worms and other data-stealing malware that generally target PCs, they'll want to amp up their security strategy.

Although Apple works extremely hard to inform their customers of potential threats, vulnerabilities and provide security updates for their systems, small-business owners still need to do their part in ensuring multiple layers of protection for whatever proprietary business information or data that reside on their computers. Here are six easy steps to help make sure your Macs, and ultimately your data, are kept safe:

1. Use an effective security product that's designed for the Mac platform. In addition to PC security, more and more security providers are also putting out Mac-specific products for this growing market. Key features to look for:

  • Proactively stops threats from the Web before they can reach your business as the majority of viruses use web sites to infect your computer
  • Includes three types of scanning, real-time scan, manual scan, and scheduled scan
  • Ability to protect both PCs, and Macs with a single, integrated product. Having more than one product increases the complexity and effort to protect all your business computers

2. Once you install your Mac security, enable automatic updates, and schedule weekly scans.

3. In addition to the Mac operating system itself, third-party software running on it should also be kept updated. Without updated patches, this software may contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited and used to infect your computers.

4. Secure your Safari Web browser as it is the interface between your Mac and the Internet. For guidance, check here.

5. Only use legitimate software and programs. Downloading pirated software is illegal. Not only can it get you into trouble with the authorities, it also increases your risk of infection.

6. Be cautious of clicking on embedded links found within email messages and of downloading file attachments. Your best bet is to not click on links nor download file attachments. Instead, go to the sites themselves and download what you need directly. This way, you know whatever you're downloading is from a trusted provider.

Dal Gemmell is a senior global product marketing manager in the Trend Micro Small Business solutions team. As a global product marketing manager, he works in partnership with regional leaders to drive sales and marketing efforts. Contact Dal at .

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