Safari is a well-built browser from a security perspective. However there are times when your privacy is compromised or the browser is hijacked. This can be very annoying. In this article, we will highlight some of the key elements that will help you protect your privacy when you are using Safari.
We will also highlight the latest around the Flash Update and also explore a few terminal commands and other approaches to reset your Mac or Macbook in the case you are encountering ransomware or other malicious software on a consistent basis.
Private browsing to Protect Privacy
You can easily browse in private mode using Safari by simply assessing File >New Private Window. None of the websites you visit will be remembered and websites will be requested to not track you. If you are looking for a detailed study that highlights some of the browser aspects when it comes to keeping your browsing activity safe you can click here
Although Private Browsing prevents your web browser from storing data about you, but it doesn’t stop other applications on your computer from monitoring your browsing. If someone installed a logger or spyware application on your computer, that application could monitor your browsing activity. There are apps out there which can help you detect and remove logger and other spyware software on your Mac. If you are using your iPad or iphone, you can get to private browsing by following the instructions here.
iCloud.com on a Public Computer
It has happened to some of us. You are travelling and you ended up using the public computer in the hotel lobby. You were using a friend’s computer or ipad and decided to log into your icloud.com account to check your emails or browse the net and forgot to log out. For deleting the page that you were browsing on another device using your iCloud, Click on “Show all tabs” button in your Safari’s toolbar. Scroll down to the section that lists the iCloud tabs, put the cursor and click “X” next to it.
If you want to make sure that you have shut down the iCloud account completely, you can log into icloud.com > Settings > Advanced > and choose Sign out of Everywhere. This will log you out of any sessions on any of the devices that you were using before to access your account. If you think that your account may have been compromised, you may want to reset your iCloud credentials.
Safari Cookies and History
It is always a good idea to manage your cookies and web history periodically. You can access your browser cookies in Safari >Preferences > Privacy and choose the Details button. You can see all the site cookies that are maintained and choose to remove the ones that you don’t want. Similarly you can also clear all your history or specific items on your history folder in Safari.
You can use your Mac’s guest account if you are trying to be doubly safe. Anything that you do using the guest account will be deleted automatically when you log out of it.
How to Fight Against RansomWare in Safari
NSA, FBI and all these other junk messages that you get telling you that your computer is locked and you need to send money or call a number can be dangerous and annoying at the same time. Sometimes, these ransomware messes up your Safari significantly in that when you try to launch the app, it just gets stuck or crashes. In these instances, when you cannot use the Safari menu to do the cleanup, you can follow the directions below to take care of this problem.
Open your Finder App and look for the following Safari Files.
- In your Library >Caches folder locate all files starting with com.apple.safari
- In your Library> Cookies folder locate the file com.apple.Safari.SafeBrowsing.binarycookies
- Library>preferences folder, locate any file beginning with com.apple.safari
Delete all these files that you located above.
Resetting Safari on Your MacBook in the case of a Security Breach
If you are familiar with using terminal, you can also use all the commands below to completely erase all your old safari settings.
mv ~/Library/Safari ~/Desktop/Safari-`date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S`; \
Remove the cookie jar and cache from your macbook
rm -Rf ~/Library/Cookies/Cookies.binarycookies; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Metadata/Safari; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess; \
Next, series of commands will help you in resetting the preferences for Safari
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.LSSharedFileList.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.RSS.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebFoundation.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginHost.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/PubSub/Database; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/com.apple.Safari.savedState
Latest Flash Update and Apple
Apple is always releasing security patches to protect your Safari experience and privacy. Last month, Apple updated the web plug-in blocking mechanism to disable all Flash Player versions prior to Flash Player 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.1990, due to security issues identified in the older versions.
When you browse certain sites, it sometimes requests you to install the latest flash. It is a good idea to not click on those pop-ups. A better approach is to use your Mac’s system preferences to install the right version of Flash. Go to > System preferences. Locate Flash at the bottom of the page or under other. Click on it and then go to the Updates Tab. Click on Check for Updates and proceed to install the update from here.
Please make sure that you have quit your Safari before installing the latest Flash upgrade. Next, Click on Advanced and choose “Delete All…” followed by “Delete all Site’s Data and Settings”. This will ensure that third party sites where you run Flash are not storing information about your usage on your machine.
Protection Against Unauthorized Apps
This is not directly related to your Safari experience however it can impact the overall security aspects of your Mac experience when downloading apps from the app store. It is always a good idea to make sure that you are only getting the apps that have associated identified developers. In order to do this, Go to > Preferences >Security and Privacy > General and make sure that you have set the correct setting.
It is important that you update your browser on your Mac for these relevant security patches. You can install the updated Safari browser by choosing Apple menu > App Store…, or the updates may be obtained from the Mac App Store. If you are still worried about your privacy and security when it comes to browsing, you can explore the Tor project and install it on your Macbook for additional peace of mind.
No matter what, Never Call a 1-800..or any number that pops up on your Safari and requests to help you with your computer issues and remember to not share your Apple Id with anyone else other than official Apple Customer Support.
We are hoping that the article has provided you with some ideas around privacy and security options when it comes to using Safari on your Macbook and Macs. Please let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.