How to switch search engines on macOS and iOS (and why you should)

If you’re like most people, you search the web a lot. Google handles nearly 85,000 searches per second, or 7.3 billion per day, or more than two and a half trillion searches every year. Your share of that may be small: if you’re just an average person, you may search the web 3-5 times a day, but some of us, such as writers, may perform several dozen searches in a single day when researching articles and books.

Searching the web is free. But nothing is really free. In exchange for providing you with such a powerful tool, Google collects data about you. It creates a unique profile of you, of your interests, your medical conditions (because everyone searches Google when they have health questions), and your browsing activity, and uses this to provide carefully targeted ads. It also tracks the websites you visit, ensuring not to miss anything you do.

This is why you often see ads related to your web searches. For example, you may have a question about your pet, and use Google to find the answer. You’ll soon see ads for pet food on various web pages. Google is the biggest advertising provider on the web, and millions of websites use Google Ads. So by storing information about you on Google’s servers, the company can know which ads are most likely to interest you. (Of course they don’t know if that search about the cat was really for a friend or neighbor, in which case the ads are incorrectly targeted, but if no one clicks, they don’t make any money.)

In other words, using a search engine is the same as giving away lots of private information about you, your habits, and your life. You may not want to do that.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How the Internet Works

It’s become second nature to use the internet for web browsing, email, messaging, and streaming music and video. It’s a bit like how we use electricity: we have a vague idea how it’s generated and how it gets to us, but we are rarely concerned about the details.

The difference with the internet is that you share personal information with retailers and social networks, provide detailed financial information to banks and investment firms, and tell some of your deepest secrets to friends and family.

Security and privacy are (or at least should be) key concerns for internet users. To fully grasp why these are so important, it’s helpful to understand how the internet works. In this article, I’m going to give you an overview of how the internet works, how your data gets from one location to another, and why it’s important to protect your privacy and security online.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Google to Auto-Delete User History After 18 Months

Managing your privacy when using Google services can be confusing, because there are so many settings, and it’s not clear what type of data the company retains on users. If you have a Google account, you may use it with a lot of Google services: beyond the basic search service (Google stores a record of your searches), you may also use Google for email, you may use Google Maps, which records your location, and you may sign in with your Google account to various apps and services.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

macOS 11 and iOS 14 – New Security and Privacy Features

In a socially-distanced keynote address to open Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday, the company presented new features for the next versions of all of its operating systems. Apple announced new features for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS, and security and privacy features were prominent across the various operating systems. In this article, I’ll give you an overview of what’s coming in these new operating systems to help ensure your security and privacy on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do on Your Work Computer (or Phone)

When you’re at the office, working on your employer’s computer, it’s important not to do certain things. The computer isn’t yours, and, if your company is large enough, your boss may use software to check what you do, which websites you’ve visited, and may even read your emails. The computer belongs to the company, and it’s their right to keep an eye on it.

The same is true if you have a work-issued laptop, or even a phone. These devices aren’t yours, and your boss can, at any time, take them back and check all the data they contain. Since a lot of people are working from home now, they may be using computers issued by their employers. To ensure that your personal data remains private, here are 10 things you should never do on a computer or phone given to you by your business.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to view and edit your Off-Facebook Activity

One of the most pernicious activities that Facebook does is to track you when you’re not on their website, and even if you’re not logged into Facebook or don’t have a Facebook account. They often do this using cookies that websites deliver to your browser. Facebook has recently provided a way to view and edit “off-Facebook activity,” which the company defines as “activity that businesses and organizations share with us about your interactions, such as visiting their apps or websites.”

The word “apps” above is important. Facebook gets data not just from websites you visit, but also from apps you use, and you have no way to turn that feature off. Facebook then uses this data to serve you ads based on your activity. You can use content blockers or tracker blockers in your web browser to prevent this tracking, but they have no effect on apps.

You can “disconnect” this activity, but this won’t change the number of ads you see; ads will just not be “personalized” as before.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to remove GPS location data from photos on iPhone or Mac

It’s great to have location data stored in your photos. This allows you to sort through your photo library and find all your photos from your last vacation, or from favorite sites you like to visit. For some photos, like that one of the Eiffel Tower, it’s obvious where you’ve taken them. But you may not want people to be able to figure out where all your photos were taken. For example, you probably don’t want location data in photos you’ve taken in your back yard showing up on social media, allowing people to find exactly where you live.

It’s easy to remove location data when sharing photos from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Here’s how.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The Best Mac Cleanup Tips for Digital Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air. You can tell because the birds are starting to chirp, the days are getting longer, and you’ve set your clock ahead.

Whenever spring comes, something deep inside us prods us to clean things out. Our home, our garage, our basement… so why not our Macs? We accumulate clutter in the colder, darker months, and with more light and warmer weather, it’s a good time to take stock of things and decide what you need to keep, and what you can toss.

In this article, I present a roundup of the best Mac cleanup tips for spring cleaning your Mac. This is especially important if you have a Mac with an SSD as space is more limited than a hard drive. Some of these tips are simple, some take a bit more time, but they’ll all help you tidy up your computer.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 47: Coming Soon from Apple

We discuss the new products that Apple might (or is likely to) announcement next week. We also cover some privacy news about Twitter and Apple’s App Store.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

How to Download all Your Apple Data

You have undoubtedly noticed by now that something called GDPR has just taken effect. The General Data Protection Regulation is a European Union framework for handling user data. Even if you’re not in Europe, you have certainly been receiving emails regarding updated privacy policies. Many companies are applying GDPR’s requirements to their entire customer base under the assumption that it’s better and easier to homogenize the way they manage user data, especially if other countries outside the EU adopt a similar approach to data management in the future. Plus it’s good publicity.

Apple is no exception to this movement. The company has changed the way it handles user data and the way it informs users about privacy. Because of this, it recently unveiled a new option that lets you download most of the data that is linked to your Apple ID.

Read the rest of the article on TidBITS.