Think twice about selling or donating a Mac

Today’s computer users often forget or are unaware of how much sensitive information their devices store. The ability to save passwords, credit card numbers, and personal messages is undeniably convenient, but it’s also a huge liability. If you’re thinking about getting rid of your Mac, make sure to follow these steps first.

1. Back up your files

You don’t want the new owner of your Mac to find your private files, so you’ll want to reformat it first. However, you may have files you would like to keep. To save those files, back them up on iCloud or on an external hard drive or another Mac via Time Machine.

Backing up using iCloud

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to icloud.com, then sign in using your Apple ID. Fulfill multifactor authentication requirements if prompted.
  2. Check if your account has sufficient space remaining by clicking Settings > [your account name] > iCloud > Manage Storage. Free up storage space by deleting some files, or purchase more space if you must.
  3. To control what you’ll include in your backup sync, go to Settings > [your account name] > iCloud, then turn the toggle switches on or off for the applications you want or don’t want to sync.
  4. Once you’re happy with your selection, click Back up now.

Backing up using Time Machine

You can port your old files to an external drive or to another Mac. For the first option, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the external drive into your Mac and wait for its icon to appear on the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine > Select Backup Disk. Select the drive you plugged in, then click Use Disk.
  3. You’ll be asked to erase the disk if it isn’t formatted to support Time Machine and Mac. The backup can proceed once you comply.

To back up your files from one Mac onto another Mac, make sure that both machines are on the same network first, Then, proceed as follows:

  1. On the Mac that’ll serve as the backup destination, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Tick the File Sharing box.
  3. Select Options. Select “Share files and folders using SMB” if it isn’t selected already, then click Done.
  4. At the bottom of the Shared Folders list, click Add.
  5. Find and choose the folder you want to utilize for sharing, then click Add.
  6. Control-click the folder’s name, then select Advanced Options.
  7. Click the “Share over” menu, then select SMB.
  8. Choose “Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”
  9. If you want, you can use “Limit backups to” to put a cap on the size of the backup to be created.
  10. Select OK.

2. Sign in to all your accounts on a new computer

Before you can ensure that your personal accounts are inaccessible on the Mac you’re getting rid of, you must be certain that you can access those accounts on another computer. If you need to recover a username or password, your options may be limited if the trusted computer has been wiped clean. Make sure to log in to these accounts on another device before moving forward:

  • Apple ID
  • iCloud
  • iMessage
  • iTunes

It’s also important that you remember account credentials that you’d saved on your web browser. If you use Safari, here are the steps to check all the accounts your browser has saved:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Select Preferences from the menu directly next to the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  3. Click the Passwords menu.
  4. Comb through the list and confirm that you can access all those accounts on another computer.

3. Sign out of everything

Deleting everything on your hard drive does not automatically mean that all of your personal information will be completely erased. This is because your device may be linked to your Apple accounts, which means that if you’re still signed in on the Mac you’ve given away, the next user may have access to your accounts.

To prevent this from happening, deauthorize as many accounts as possible before formatting the storage disk by doing the following:

  1. Open the Apple Books app, Apple TV app, or Music/iTunes app.
  2. On the top menu bar, select Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer.
  3. Use your Apple ID to sign in.
  4. Click Deauthorize.

Next, you’ll want to sign out of iCloud. If your machine is on macOS Catalina or later, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select System Preferences > Apple ID.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Overview > Sign Out.

If your machine is on MacOS Mojave or earlier:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select System Preferences > iCloud > Sign Out.

You’ll also want to sign out of iMessage:

  1. Open the iMessage app, click Messages > Preferences > Accounts.
  2. Select your account in the left sidebar and click the “Sign Out” button.

4. Remove the device from Apple Support

Another thing that people often forget to do is revoke their Apple Support registration (unless they want the new owner of their Mac to receive free assistance from Apple Geniuses). Visit support.apple.com/my-support, sign in with your Apple ID and remove any device you plan to get rid of or no longer own.

5. Do a factory reset

When all your files have been backed up and your accounts are accessible on other devices, you can wipe clean your Mac’s hard drive. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Enter recovery mode. Apple details separate instructions on how to do so on Intel-based Macs and Apple Silicon-based Macs.
  2. To proceed wiping the hard drive, go to Disk Utility.
  3. Under the Internal heading, choose the Macintosh HD drive and click Erase in the top toolbar. Retain Macintosh HD as its name and set its format to either Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS.
  4. To wipe that drive, click Erase or Erase Volume Group (whichever button is shown), then repeat the process for all the other internal drives, if any. This ensures that all data on the Mac is completely erased and that errors during the reinstall process will be avoided.
  5. Close the Disk Utility window to return to the Recovery screen.
  6. Press Command-Q to shut down the Mac.

From here, you can let the person getting the machine install a clean version of macOS.

All in all, this entire process can take a couple of days. Small businesses can save a lot of time by hiring an IT provider with Apple experts to take care of mundane tasks like wiping an old computer’s hard drive. Give us a call today to learn more about what we do.

This post was originally published on this site

Think twice about selling or donating a Mac

Today’s computer users often forget or are unaware of how much sensitive information their devices store. The ability to save passwords, credit card numbers, and personal messages is undeniably convenient, but it’s also a huge liability. If you’re thinking about getting rid of your Mac, make sure to follow these steps first.

1. Back up your files

You don’t want the new owner of your Mac to find your private files, so you’ll want to reformat it first. However, you may have files you would like to keep. To save those files, back them up on iCloud or on an external hard drive or another Mac via Time Machine.

Backing up using iCloud

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to icloud.com, then sign in using your Apple ID. Fulfill multifactor authentication requirements if prompted.
  2. Check if your account has sufficient space remaining by clicking Settings > [your account name] > iCloud > Manage Storage. Free up storage space by deleting some files, or purchase more space if you must.
  3. To control what you’ll include in your backup sync, go to Settings > [your account name] > iCloud, then turn the toggle switches on or off for the applications you want or don’t want to sync.
  4. Once you’re happy with your selection, click Back up now.

Backing up using Time Machine

You can port your old files to an external drive or to another Mac. For the first option, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the external drive into your Mac and wait for its icon to appear on the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine > Select Backup Disk. Select the drive you plugged in, then click Use Disk.
  3. You’ll be asked to erase the disk if it isn’t formatted to support Time Machine and Mac. The backup can proceed once you comply.

To back up your files from one Mac onto another Mac, make sure that both machines are on the same network first, Then, proceed as follows:

  1. On the Mac that’ll serve as the backup destination, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Tick the File Sharing box.
  3. Select Options. Select “Share files and folders using SMB” if it isn’t selected already, then click Done.
  4. At the bottom of the Shared Folders list, click Add.
  5. Find and choose the folder you want to utilize for sharing, then click Add.
  6. Control-click the folder’s name, then select Advanced Options.
  7. Click the “Share over” menu, then select SMB.
  8. Choose “Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”
  9. If you want, you can use “Limit backups to” to put a cap on the size of the backup to be created.
  10. Select OK.

2. Sign in to all your accounts on a new computer

Before you can ensure that your personal accounts are inaccessible on the Mac you’re getting rid of, you must be certain that you can access those accounts on another computer. If you need to recover a username or password, your options may be limited if the trusted computer has been wiped clean. Make sure to log in to these accounts on another device before moving forward:

  • Apple ID
  • iCloud
  • iMessage
  • iTunes

It’s also important that you remember account credentials that you’d saved on your web browser. If you use Safari, here are the steps to check all the accounts your browser has saved:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Select Preferences from the menu directly next to the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  3. Click the Passwords menu.
  4. Comb through the list and confirm that you can access all those accounts on another computer.

3. Sign out of everything

Deleting everything on your hard drive does not automatically mean that all of your personal information will be completely erased. This is because your device may be linked to your Apple accounts, which means that if you’re still signed in on the Mac you’ve given away, the next user may have access to your accounts.

To prevent this from happening, deauthorize as many accounts as possible before formatting the storage disk by doing the following:

  1. Open the Apple Books app, Apple TV app, or Music/iTunes app.
  2. On the top menu bar, select Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer.
  3. Use your Apple ID to sign in.
  4. Click Deauthorize.

Next, you’ll want to sign out of iCloud. If your machine is on macOS Catalina or later, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select System Preferences > Apple ID.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Overview > Sign Out.

If your machine is on MacOS Mojave or earlier:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select System Preferences > iCloud > Sign Out.

You’ll also want to sign out of iMessage:

  1. Open the iMessage app, click Messages > Preferences > Accounts.
  2. Select your account in the left sidebar and click the “Sign Out” button.

4. Remove the device from Apple Support

Another thing that people often forget to do is revoke their Apple Support registration (unless they want the new owner of their Mac to receive free assistance from Apple Geniuses). Visit support.apple.com/my-support, sign in with your Apple ID and remove any device you plan to get rid of or no longer own.

5. Do a factory reset

When all your files have been backed up and your accounts are accessible on other devices, you can wipe clean your Mac’s hard drive. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Enter recovery mode. Apple details separate instructions on how to do so on Intel-based Macs and Apple Silicon-based Macs.
  2. To proceed wiping the hard drive, go to Disk Utility.
  3. Under the Internal heading, choose the Macintosh HD drive and click Erase in the top toolbar. Retain Macintosh HD as its name and set its format to either Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS.
  4. To wipe that drive, click Erase or Erase Volume Group (whichever button is shown), then repeat the process for all the other internal drives, if any. This ensures that all data on the Mac is completely erased and that errors during the reinstall process will be avoided.
  5. Close the Disk Utility window to return to the Recovery screen.
  6. Press Command-Q to shut down the Mac.

From here, you can let the person getting the machine install a clean version of macOS.

All in all, this entire process can take a couple of days. Small businesses can save a lot of time by hiring an IT provider with Apple experts to take care of mundane tasks like wiping an old computer’s hard drive. Give us a call today to learn more about what we do.

This post was originally published on this site

Windows 10 privacy settings you should adjust right now

Default privacy settings on devices usually aren’t very private. Even Windows 10 devices are initially configured to collect information about users, like how and where they use their devices as well as what type of content and data they access. Fortunately, there are ways to lock down your privacy in Windows 10 — just follow these tips.

Turn personalized advertising off

Windows 10 assigns each user an “advertising ID” that is used for ad personalization based on your recent browsing history. If you’d rather see generic ads targeted to you based on demographics rather than your ID, we recommend turning this feature off. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the search box at the bottom left of your screen. If your search bar is hidden, right-click the taskbar and select Search > Show search box.
  2. Next, type in “Privacy,” then click on Privacy Settings and select General.
  3. Turn off the option that states “Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity.”
  4. Lastly, open your web browser and go to this link. Once there, turn off the “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” and “Personalized ads in this browser” options.

Following these steps resets your ad ID, letting you surf the web without targeted advertisements.

Disable Cortana

Voice-controlled digital assistants have become big business. Microsoft aims to capitalize on this market with Cortana, an incredibly resourceful built-in assistant that allows you to quickly set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among many other intuitive features. However, the way it uses the information it collects can become overbearing at times. Here’s how to disable Cortana:

  1. Type “Task Manager” in the search box, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. In Task Manager, click the Startup tab and find Cortana in the list of programs.
  3. Right-click the row and click Disable.
  4. Open the Start menu, then find Cortana under All Apps.
  5. Right-click on Cortana, select More, and click on App settings.
  6. Toggle the switch under “Runs at log-in.”

Once disabled, the Cortana option disappears and you’re now left with just a search bar, which you can use to search for things online or on your desktop.

Stop peer-to-peer file sharing

With peer-to-peer or P2P file sharing enabled, Windows 10 shares downloaded updates to your PC with other Windows 10 users in the same network by default. This helps other users update their systems faster and speeds up your upgrade downloads. However, if you are unhappy with your files being used by other users, you can turn P2P sharing off.

  1. Click the Windows icon and head over to Settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security then choose Delivery Optimization from the sidebar.
  3. Under “Allow downloads from other PCs,” switch the toggle to “Off.”

If you want to share your files with PCs on your in-house network only, leave this option on and select the option that says “PCs on my local network.” For more detailed instructions on how to stop P2P updates, click here.

Blunt Microsoft’s Edge

Microsoft Edge is chock-full of features — such as Cortana Integration and typing prediction — that send data back to Microsoft. To turn off these intrusive functionalities, open Edge and click on the three dots in the far right corner.

Then, click on Settings > Cookies and site permissions. There you have the option to disable a bunch of settings, such as those related to ads, automatic downloads, and location sharing.

These simple security tips will stop Microsoft from tracking your online activities for good. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for all matters security-related.

This post was originally published on this site

Windows 10 privacy settings you should adjust right now

Default privacy settings on devices usually aren’t very private. Even Windows 10 devices are initially configured to collect information about users, like how and where they use their devices as well as what type of content and data they access. Fortunately, there are ways to lock down your privacy in Windows 10 — just follow these tips.

Turn personalized advertising off

Windows 10 assigns each user an “advertising ID” that is used for ad personalization based on your recent browsing history. If you’d rather see generic ads targeted to you based on demographics rather than your ID, we recommend turning this feature off. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the search box at the bottom left of your screen. If your search bar is hidden, right-click the taskbar and select Search > Show search box.
  2. Next, type in “Privacy,” then click on Privacy Settings and select General.
  3. Turn off the option that states “Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity.”
  4. Lastly, open your web browser and go to this link. Once there, turn off the “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” and “Personalized ads in this browser” options.

Following these steps resets your ad ID, letting you surf the web without targeted advertisements.

Disable Cortana

Voice-controlled digital assistants have become big business. Microsoft aims to capitalize on this market with Cortana, an incredibly resourceful built-in assistant that allows you to quickly set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among many other intuitive features. However, the way it uses the information it collects can become overbearing at times. Here’s how to disable Cortana:

  1. Type “Task Manager” in the search box, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. In Task Manager, click the Startup tab and find Cortana in the list of programs.
  3. Right-click the row and click Disable.
  4. Open the Start menu, then find Cortana under All Apps.
  5. Right-click on Cortana, select More, and click on App settings.
  6. Toggle the switch under “Runs at log-in.”

Once disabled, the Cortana option disappears and you’re now left with just a search bar, which you can use to search for things online or on your desktop.

Stop peer-to-peer file sharing

With peer-to-peer or P2P file sharing enabled, Windows 10 shares downloaded updates to your PC with other Windows 10 users in the same network by default. This helps other users update their systems faster and speeds up your upgrade downloads. However, if you are unhappy with your files being used by other users, you can turn P2P sharing off.

  1. Click the Windows icon and head over to Settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security then choose Delivery Optimization from the sidebar.
  3. Under “Allow downloads from other PCs,” switch the toggle to “Off.”

If you want to share your files with PCs on your in-house network only, leave this option on and select the option that says “PCs on my local network.” For more detailed instructions on how to stop P2P updates, click here.

Blunt Microsoft’s Edge

Microsoft Edge is chock-full of features — such as Cortana Integration and typing prediction — that send data back to Microsoft. To turn off these intrusive functionalities, open Edge and click on the three dots in the far right corner.

Then, click on Settings > Cookies and site permissions. There you have the option to disable a bunch of settings, such as those related to ads, automatic downloads, and location sharing.

These simple security tips will stop Microsoft from tracking your online activities for good. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for all matters security-related.

This post was originally published on this site

HIPAA calls for careful social media behavior

Healthcare providers that use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can interact with their patients, advertise new services, and communicate urgent announcements. Even though there’s immense potential for social media to improve healthcare, it can also expose patient-specific information when used irresponsibly.

What social media actions violate HIPAA rules?

Posting patients’ protected health information on social media, even if it’s accidentally, without the patients’ permission or authority is a violation of HIPAA regulations. This includes actions like:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images or videos)
  • Posting any information that could identify an individual
  • Sharing gossip about a patient, even if the patient’s name is not mentioned

What are the consequences of violating HIPAA?

People in the healthcare industry should not treat HIPAA violations lightly. If an employee is found guilty of breaking a HIPAA rule, they could face fines between $100 and $1,500,000 depending on the severity of the violation. They could also face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, job termination, and revocation of their medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?

There are simple ways to avoid HIPAA violations while using social media:

  • Don’t post stories about patients on social media. Even if the patient’s name is omitted, the patient could still be identified by their diagnosis or treatment.
  • Check the background of photos before posting. Make sure there are policies that prohibit employees from posting photos of a patient or their information.
  • Prohibit employees from offering medical advice on social media. It’s best practice to refrain from posting diagnosis or treatment plans on social media, even if a patient asks for medical advice.
  • Always get written permission. Sometimes, a patient’s story is too great not to share. Maybe they made an astonishing recovery or exhibited great strength in the face of adversity and you want to share their accomplishment. In cases like these, ask for written permission from the patient before posting anything on social media.
  • Undergo training on HIPAA security and HIPAA privacy procedures and policies. Make sure to discuss topics such as workstation use, workstation security, and using personal devices for work. These procedures ensure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written, or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to call us today!

This post was originally published on this site

HIPAA calls for careful social media behavior

Healthcare providers that use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can interact with their patients, advertise new services, and communicate urgent announcements. Even though there’s immense potential for social media to improve healthcare, it can also expose patient-specific information when used irresponsibly.

What social media actions violate HIPAA rules?

Posting patients’ protected health information on social media, even if it’s accidentally, without the patients’ permission or authority is a violation of HIPAA regulations. This includes actions like:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images or videos)
  • Posting any information that could identify an individual
  • Sharing gossip about a patient, even if the patient’s name is not mentioned

What are the consequences of violating HIPAA?

People in the healthcare industry should not treat HIPAA violations lightly. If an employee is found guilty of breaking a HIPAA rule, they could face fines between $100 and $1,500,000 depending on the severity of the violation. They could also face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, job termination, and revocation of their medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?

There are simple ways to avoid HIPAA violations while using social media:

  • Don’t post stories about patients on social media. Even if the patient’s name is omitted, the patient could still be identified by their diagnosis or treatment.
  • Check the background of photos before posting. Make sure there are policies that prohibit employees from posting photos of a patient or their information.
  • Prohibit employees from offering medical advice on social media. It’s best practice to refrain from posting diagnosis or treatment plans on social media, even if a patient asks for medical advice.
  • Always get written permission. Sometimes, a patient’s story is too great not to share. Maybe they made an astonishing recovery or exhibited great strength in the face of adversity and you want to share their accomplishment. In cases like these, ask for written permission from the patient before posting anything on social media.
  • Undergo training on HIPAA security and HIPAA privacy procedures and policies. Make sure to discuss topics such as workstation use, workstation security, and using personal devices for work. These procedures ensure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written, or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to call us today!

This post was originally published on this site

Safeguard PHI with these tips

Because healthcare organizations handle protected health information (PHI), they are a prime target for hackers. Stolen PHI can be used to carry out a host of fraudulent activities, which is why businesses in healthcare must be extra vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. To prevent data breaches and keep PHI secure, follow these best practices.

Educate your staff

A comprehensive data security training program is necessary to combat ever-evolving threats to the healthcare industry. Training should be done regularly and cover all the different areas of data security, including the different data breach methods employed by hackers. For instance, your employees should be educated on how to spot phishing attacks, which are the number one cause of data breaches, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Understanding how phishing works will help your employees recognize and avoid falling victim to such scams.

Enforce strict access policies

Implement access restriction policies to keep unauthorized users from getting their hands on PHI. This entails granting employees access to only the PHI they need to perform their tasks. For instance, accountants should not have access to data about patients’ health conditions. Similarly, physicians shouldn’t be able to see patients’ billing information.

Healthcare executives must also hold employees accountable for accessing PHI for no valid reason. Together with regular cybersecurity training, this will minimize the risk of data breaches resulting from insider threats.

Employ full-disk encryption

Full-disk encryption is an inexpensive and quick method to secure private information saved in computers and portable devices. It renders data indecipherable to users who don’t possess the matching decryption key. This means that even if one of your employees’ laptop or smartphone is lost or stolen, the thief won’t be able to access any encrypted PHI stored in it.

Build a resilient infrastructure

Malware is a blanket term for viruses, Trojans, and other harmful programs that cybercriminals use to damage systems and gain access to sensitive data. To ensure the security of PHI, your healthcare organization must build an IT infrastructure that is protected against malware of all kinds.

This involves setting up safeguards to keep malware and other threats at bay, such as advanced firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and email filtering software. You should also consider network segregation and segmentation to block hackers’ attempts to penetrate your networks and steal PHI data.

If malware does manage to infiltrate your network, stop it from spreading by deploying next-gen anti-malware software that can detect and quarantine any signs of a breach. If such systems fail, you’d also need a data backup and recovery plan so you can continue caring for your patients even during a major incident.

Implement physical security measures

Many healthcare organizations still rely on paper-based PHI and store these in file cabinets. Secure these valuable assets by installing physical security controls, such as surveillance cameras and card entry systems, in the areas of your facility where records are stored. You should also implement strict record log-out procedures, which will help ensure that only authorized personnel can access records that contain sensitive data and that these are returned promptly.

To learn more about how you can secure PHI and other digital assets, drop us a line today. Our team of professionals can provide you with the knowledge and assistance you need.

This post was originally published on this site