What, Me Worry Too Much?

We hope that you now see the need to worry about security while youŐre online. Some of you may now even be so scared that youŐre thinking about pulling the network connection on your Mac right away, especially if that connectionŐs through a cable modem or DSL. But is it possible to be too worried?


If you really pulled the plug on your network connection and never connected to the Net again, we would have done you a great disservice. Like most good things in life, the Net is a double-edged sword. But itŐs 95 percent good edge and 5 percent bad. You donŐt not drive your car because you might get into an automobile accident, and you donŐt stay home all the time because youŐre worried that someone might break in. But you do put on your seat belt when you drive, and you do lock your house when you leave for a trip. So there is an appropriate degree of worry for every situation.

How much should you worry? Only you can make that decision. As is true of everything else, the degree to which you worry about online security should be proportionate to the risks involved.

Consider two Mac users. The first connects through a dial-up modem for maybe an hour a day. He uses his Mac mainly for reading e-mail and doesnŐt keep any important documents or data on the Mac. The second is online through a cable modem and uses both the Net and the Mac quite extensively, sending and receiving e-mail, doing online banking, and keeping track of stock portfolios through the Web. She also keeps financial records and even a book that sheŐs writing on the Mac, plus some work-related items. Clearly, the second Mac user should worry about the security of her machine more than the first. This is not to say that the first user shouldnŐt worry but that he can afford to worry less, because he has less to lose.

Degrees of worry should translate into degrees of security. As youŐll see, you can take many security measures to protect your Macintosh while youŐre online, just as you can take many security measures to protect your house. You can lock the door; you can lock the windows; you can put in an alarm system; you can build a security gate. Different degrees of security are appropriate for different situations.

We feel that everyone should at least understand and implement the general security principles outlined in the rest of Part 1 of this book. Beyond that, youŐll need to assess things for yourself. As a rough guideline, here are some factors that should increase your Ňworry indexÓ and, thus, your security measures.

Do you:

á      Have a permanent connection to the Net?

á      Have a high-speed connection to the Net?

á      Leave your Mac on all the time (with a permanent connection to the Net)?

á      Depend on your Mac or the Net to do your job?

á      Make extensive use of e-mail, especially for exchanging documents?

á      Keep important documents or records on your Mac?

á      Shop online or use other forms of e-commerce?

á      Bank or conduct other financial transactions online?

á      Use a wireless Internet connection?

á      Have more than one Mac on the Net?

á      Provide any services from your Mac, such as file sharing or a Web site?

You may not understand the reasons behind all of these questions yet, but you certainly should by the end of this book.