When Apple designed the macOS operating system, the team did so by taking an integrated approach to software, services, and hardware. With macOS, many of their components are purpose-built for security, which can make configuration, deployment, and management activities easier for IT professionals already aware of security practices.
However, macOS approaches security differently than Windows, which was traditionally more often used in enterprises. As Apple products become more popular and their usage as business devices becomes widespread, it becomes incredibly important for MSPs to expand their capabilities and leverage unified endpoint management software that provides endpoint security specific for macOS. With a generic endpoint management tool that doesn’t account for the differences between Windows and macOS security requirements, businesses may introduce security vulnerabilities that leave their business and their customers exposed to risks.
To help you ensure you’re creating a targeted and robust Mac endpoint security strategy, this article will highlight some differences between the two operating systems and share a list of tools and policies your MSP can implement for more comprehensive security.
Why is Mac endpoint security important for MSPs?
In the vast majority of medium to large-sized organizations, and particularly for MSPs with a big client base, it is inevitable that some users will use Mac devices—while many will use Windows based machines. Because of this, MSPs must be prepared to work with both Windows and Mac devices.
The difference between Windows and Mac endpoint security requirements
When it comes to security, both Windows and macOS have their own advantages and disadvantages. The end user’s level of technical skill, familiarity, and preference also factor into how successful a security strategy is likely to be with each of these operating systems.
Because user behavior plays such an important role in Mac endpoint security, the individual’s level of comfort can play a large role in how secure a platform is for any given organization. However, aside from personal preference, here are some key pros and cons of macOS and Windows platforms for MSPs to keep in mind.
- Lower attack rates
- Easy to use
- Moderate browser security
- Perceived safety caused by misconceptions surrounding Mac security can result in poor user behavior
- Slower operating system update cycles
- Threats are on the rise
- Lower threat growth
- Constant operating system update cycles
- Reasonably dependable out-of-the-box threat safeguards
- Highest attack rate for any operating system due to market saturation
- Security may require more attention and upkeep (without proper automation tools)
All software and operating systems are imperfect, because cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods in an effort to undermine both Windows and Mac security. No matter which operating system—or combination of operating systems—you work with, endpoint security needs to be a priority in 2021.
These pros and cons serve to demonstrate the differences between macOS and Windows platforms. To account for these differences and help ensure your Mac endpoint security strategy is successful, MSPs need to leverage tools with utilities specific to both Windows and Mac.
Helping ensure successful Mac endpoint security
There is a widespread misconception that Mac devices are impervious to security threats such as viruses and malware. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Mac devices are by no means bulletproof and, like Windows devices, they require appropriate endpoint security protocols and the adherence to best practices to help them remain secure.
Because of the prevalent myth that Mac devices are immune to viruses, Mac users can potentially be less likely to implement sufficient security measures, which can result in increased vulnerability to cybercrime. To minimize these vulnerabilities and secure Mac users, devices, and endpoints against ever-evolving cyberthreats, here are some tools and practices you can implement.
1. Keep Mac devices updated
Hackers regularly target and exploit outdated software to find known vulnerabilities they can take advantage of. When users fail to update their device, their device continues to be vulnerable to that weakness.
A savvy hacker who has been keeping tabs on the latest Mac updates can specifically prey on a user’s inability to keep on top of updates by targeting the vulnerabilities of outdated operating systems. Keeping your devices updated also applies to applications like web browsers, which can similarly expose you to the risk of hacking if not properly updated.
2. Train users
Phishing emails and other email-borne threats are a popular method of attack for cybercriminals, which is why it is crucial that users are trained to identify suspicious emails. Users should never click on links in the body of an email, or respond to the email, if they don’t recognize the recipient.
Companies should also advise users to carefully examine the sender’s email address before clicking on anything, as hackers often try to imitate legitimate emails. If there is something unusual or unexpected in the email address or the content of the email, this is cause for suspicion. For example, if an email claims to be from PayPal.com, but the email address domain reads PayPal.info.com, alarm bells should ring. Adequate training can help your users understand how to spot potential signs of attack.
3. Do not install programs from unofficial sources
Users should not be permitted to download software or applications from unauthorized sources. Unless a source has been vetted thoroughly, you can never be entirely certain that installed applications and software aren’t infected. A program could, for example, be bundled with ransomware. To help ensure that any apps and software installed onto Mac devices are safe, consider creating a list of authorized applications and sites that users can access.
4. Make regular backups
Using enterprise-grade backup software is a crucial part of preventing data loss for your customers. A comprehensive endpoint security strategy will account for situations in which breaches do occur despite your security measures—and will have measures in place so that data can be recovered. This will help make sure that if your Mac is infected by malware or ransomware, you can restore earlier versions of your Mac to avoid losing any important data or files.
As mentioned above, despite claims to the contrary, Mac devices aren’t immune to viruses or malware. Viruses targeted at Mac systems exist, which is why MSPs need a powerful antivirus tool capable of protecting against malware.
6. Leverage an RMM tool
A remote monitoring and management tool that includes antivirus for Mac combines Mac endpoint security with a range of other features to deliver comprehensive Mac security. A comprehensive RMM tool with powerful integrations enables you to centralize and consolidate endpoint management activities with wider security operations—while also improving efficiency for your technicians and your MSP.
Increase Mac endpoint security with the right tool
For MSPs committed to the above six ways of ensuring Mac endpoint security, an all-in-one tool like N-able™ RMM can help them tick the right boxes. This solution was designed to provide a seamless and fully integrated approach to the remote management, monitoring, and security of Mac devices across environments.
N-able RMM can be used to remotely manage and monitor devices operating on both Windows and Mac systems, enabling your business to provide exceptional services and security to customers—regardless of the platform they use. With this tool, you can rapidly troubleshoot Mac problems with minimal disruption to the end user, back up Mac documents to the cloud with support for Mac file formats (such as plists), upload and push your own Apple configuration profiles to Mac workstations, or even attach your own custom scripts as automated tasks and checks.
This solution’s integrated endpoint detection and response software, available for certain versions of macOS, also includes rapid agent deployment, near real-time analysis of files, policy-driven automation, a signatureless approach, forensic analysis, and offline endpoint protection. However, even if you choose not to use EDR, you still have full-featured antivirus for Mac devices. In addition to providing a wide range of Mac endpoint security features, N-able RMM also provides patch management, remote access, network discovery, password and IT documentation management, and web protection to give MSPs everything they need in one tool.
Prioritizing Mac endpoint security
Mac and Windows, although they share certain similarities, require a slightly different approach to security. To help ensure your MSP isn’t neglecting Mac security and is able to protect modern customers in the way they need, we recommend implementing an RMM solution that seamlessly integrates antivirus, backup, and even EDR for certain versions of macOS in a way that helps prioritize endpoint security best practices.
N-able RMM is a highly versatile tool that serves as a Mac endpoint security and unified endpoint management software solution with remote support capabilities. If you are looking for enterprise MDM software for Mac or EDR for Mac, N-able RMM delivers a scalable and user-friendly approach that requires no former experience or training to get started. To learn more, MSPs can start with a 30-day free trial.