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Endpoint security for Mac: What you need to know In 2021

In 2021, few managed services providers (MSPs) still think of Mac devices as immune to cyberattacks, although many end users still believe it. IT professionals know the unfortunate truth is that Mac workstations and servers can indeed be vulnerable to cybercrimes and data breaches. Furthermore, because these devices are increasingly popular in business settings, the stakes for Mac security are higher than ever. If a Mac device is compromised, it can easily lead to business downtime, stolen data, and major financial losses.

For these reasons, Mac security must remain top of mind for MSPs and their customers in 2021. To help ensure your customers’ endpoints are better protected this year, you should understand and follow the latest best practices for Mac security by making use of tools that offer you the functionality and compatibility you need.

Recent Mac endpoint threats

2020 proved yet again that Mac devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and it’s likely that cybercriminals in 2021 will continue to target macOS. For a preview of the type of attacks that may arise, consider a few of the following top Mac threats in 2020:

  • ThiefQuest: This ransomware is specific to macOS, which is unusual. ThiefQuest is capable of stealing passwords and credit card numbers, and has the potential to be a backdoor for additional attacks. Luckily, this threat has not proved to be widespread.
  • GravityRAT: This virus, recognized as being able to infect macOS, can take automatic screenshots and record keyboards, making it easy for bad actors to steal passwords and other sensitive information.
  • XCSSET: This malware showed up in August 2020, and spread through Xcode projects on Github. It targets data across a range of common apps, like Skype and Paypal.

Beyond these Mac malware and ransomware attacks, this past year showed a dramatic rise in cyberattacks in general, in part due to the increase in remote work that inadvertently left devices and networks more vulnerable. The FBI reported experiencing a whopping 400% increase in cyberattack reports after the start of the pandemic. A number of major data breaches also occurred, including an Estée Lauder breach that saw 4,400 million records compromised by hackers. Unfortunately, 2021 is likely to see similar attacks.

Best practices for Mac endpoint security in 2021

All too often, businesses rely on end users to manage their own Mac devices and keep them up-to-date. While it’s worthwhile educating employees about end-user best practices for avoiding phishing or reminding them to update devices, MSPs tasked with handling customer IT needs can’t rely on end-user behavior alone. After all, some 80% of cyberattacks occur through compromised endpoints. It’s clear that MSPs need specific strategies and tools for managing Mac endpoints for their customers, especially within the following categories:

  1. Updates and patches: Updates don’t just incorporate new features and functionality—they also help fix security flaws. You should automate high-priority system and application updates, patches, and hotfixes as much as possible so nothing slips through the cracks, especially for macOS and third-party applications like Adobe.
  2. Backups: The reality is there’s always a risk a cyberattacker could steal, erase, or ransom your customers’ valuable data. It’s important to include Mac endpoints in your cloud backup and recovery plan to make sure customers can retrieve clean copies of recently updated data in the event of a disaster. Be sure your backups are compatible with file formats unique to Mac devices.
  3. Antivirus measures: Any comprehensive endpoint security plan should include centrally managed antivirus technology and ransomware protection software. Ideally, such software should offer both heuristic and signature-based scanning.
  4. Admin rights: To maximize security, you’ll need to restrict local admin accounts and set roles and permissions. Use the principle of least privilege in assigning access rights so employees can access all they need to remain productive without putting data at risk.
  5. Monitoring and alerts: It’s important your monitoring and management tools are compatible with Mac endpoints. Proactive monitoring allows MSPs to quickly detect abnormal behavior and further investigate potential issues before they escalate. Mac monitoring software makes it possible for technicians to receive automatic alerts when Mac workstations and servers aren’t operating as expected. The right software can also allow you to remotely view and manage Mac endpoints without needing to access the device directly.
  6. Mobile devices: Mobile device management (MDM) is an increasingly important service for today’s MSPs to offer, as many businesses allow employees to access sensitive data through smartphones, tablets, and laptops. MDM solutions for Apple devices can help you secure and control devices remotely, track location as needed, and even monitor data usage.
  7. Auditing: For thorough security management, it’s important to regularly audit your Mac endpoints. Robust reports allow you to check on the success of your various best practices to understand what’s working. View key metrics, review the results of antivirus protection, ensure that backups are running as intended, check on the status of hardware and software, and see whether users are putting endpoints at risk unnecessarily.

Choosing the right Mac endpoint software

One of the best ways for an MSP to handle these duties and improve Mac endpoint security is to use software like SolarWinds® RMM [https://www.solarwindsmsp.com/products/rmm]. RMM is designed to help you fulfill the above best practices and offer your customers comprehensive Mac endpoint support. Given 2021’s cyberthreat landscape, it’s important for MSPs to not only manage remote macOS systems, but also ensure their security.

To that end, RMM includes powerful management and monitoring features, such as automated updates and remote troubleshooting capabilities that are minimally disruptive for end users. It also includes features for compatible cloud backup for Mac endpoints, as well as intelligent antivirus and anti-ransomware mechanisms. You can extend these capabilities to your customers’ iOS mobile devices as well, meaning you can monitor everything from one comprehensive dashboard. What’s more, this SolarWinds software includes robust auditing features so you can report on key metrics and easily understand whether your measures are succeeding.

If you’d like to improve endpoint protection for your customers’ Windows and Mac endpoints, start with a 30-day free trial of RMM to learn more.

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