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The Basics of Safari's Security and Privacy Settings

Mobile ApplicationDecember 18, 2023

Privacy and security are a huge concern when using any computer device. Cyberattacks and advanced privacy invasions are on the rise, with criminals constantly evolving in targeting and launching attacks.

Simply put your security and privacy are no longer guaranteed, no matter what device you use. Luckily, if you’re a Mac user, Apple has always championed the idea of user privacy that allows you to stay safe and protected as you go about your online activities.

One area Apple has excelled over its competitors is providing users with a built-in macOS browser—Safari. Widely regarded as the best way to experience the internet on all your Apple devices, Safari currently boasts over 1 billion users globally.

The best part is that there’s still more you can do with this browser to make it work even better for you. In this article, we’ll cover all you the basics of Safari’s security and privacy and how to configure some of the settings for the best internet experience!

Safari browser on Mac

A faster and more secure internet experience is everyone’s dream when surfing the web. Safari is a fantastic all-round browser that relies on a blazing-fast JavaScript engine to give you a faster browsing experience.

Seamlessly integrated into both macOS and iOS, you can use Safari across all Apple devices. It’s a better fit for Mac users thanks to a vast range of useful security and privacy features you won’t find on other browsers.

Basic privacy and security settings on Safari

Privacy and security on your Mac means ensuring the safety of your information and keeping the bad guys away. Safari has been designed from the ground up to ensure this by focusing on how to protect your privacy.

For example, you'll enjoy Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and fingerprinting defense among its default key privacy features. The best part is that you won't need to turn on your Mac and change Settings or Safari preferences to enjoy the benefits of these features.

All the privacy protections in these features are designed to process data on the device you’re using. For instance, ITP prevents tracking while enabling websites you access via Safari to function normally.

The feature relies on machine learning to classify tracking data locally so that your browsing history isn't sent to Apple.

Basic security settings on Safari

Safari employs various security settings to ensure the information on your device is well protected. These include:

1.   Security indicators on websites

Security indicators for websites will help you know whether the site you visited is secure or not. Ideally, a secure website URL should start with “https.” HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure means the website you visited uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate

Safari makes the process of identifying secure websites even easier by displaying a security indicator next to the web address. The lack of a security indicator in the Safari browser bar implies the site needs a proper secure connection.

2.   Privacy settings and controls

Besides security, Safari also preserves user privacy through the multiple tools you can leverage to manage and control your personal information. For example, you can:

Delete browsing history

There’s a log of websites you visited kept in Safari under your ‘browsing history.’ The browser allows you the option to delete some or all of this history for privacy purposes. You can clear portions of your browsing history within a certain period, such as an hour, 7 hours, or even a day.

Here are simple steps to clear your browsing history in Safari:

1. Open Safari on your Mac.

2. Choose History.

3.  Click on Clear History.

4. Choose the period you want your browsing history cleared.

Private browsing

Safari lets you surf the internet privately, ensuring your browsing activity isn't recorded and cookies aren't stored. This feature comes in handy when you share your Mac with another person. The sites you visit or searches you make won’t be visible to them.

Here is how to enable private browsing in Safari on your Mac:

1. Open Safari on your Mac.

2. Click on File.

3. Select New Private Window, or switch to a private browsing window.

How to enhance more security and privacy in Safari

Safari is your go-to browsing companion if you're a proud Mac user. The good news is, just like other leading browsers, you can upgrade Safari on Mac and leverage more security and privacy features.

Below are more security and privacy features you get to enjoy when using Safari as a default browser on your Mac.

1.   Stop website tracking

Have you ever felt like every online move you make is closely monitored? Websites track your activities, aiming to personalize ads and your browsing experience. Worse, they might access your location, storage, or microphone without your awareness.

Safari allows you to take back control by updating website permissions. You can command it to stop website tracking and ensure no one monitors your browsing experience.

Here is how you can implement this setting on your Safari:

1. Launch Safari on your Mac.

2. Click on the Safari tab in the menu bar.

3. Choose Preferences from the dropdown menu.

4. Navigate to the Privacy tab.

5. Check the box on Prevent Cross-Site Tracking.

2.   Hide IP address

Your IP address isn’t just a number; it can reveal your personal information, including your location. Safari is automatically set to protect your IP address from known trackers.

For instance, if you’re an iCloud+ subscriber, your IP address is always protected from trackers and websites.

However, this option may be off, meaning your IP address isn't hidden from the general public. Fear not, Safari lets you mask this information from prying eyes through the following simple steps:

1. Open Safari on your Mac.

2. Click on the Safari tab in the menu.

3. Choose Preferences and move to the Privacy tab.

4. Check the box titled Hide IP address from trackers.

3.   Opt out of location services

When browsing the internet in Safari, you may occasionally be met with pop-ups asking permission for websites to use information about you. Most of them want to know your location so that they can tailor your recommendations, such as shopping places.

Overall, location services play a vital role in your device's functionalities. However, if you prefer not to disclose your whereabouts while browsing, it’s easily manageable:

1. Launch Safari, click on the Safari tab.

2. Select Preferences.

3. Navigate to the Websites tab.

4. Choose Location.

5. Configure the setting when visiting other sites by selecting Ask or Deny.

4. Manage cookies

If you've disabled cross-site tracking, cookies can still track your online movements. To heighten your privacy further, consider blocking all cookies:

1. Open Safari.

2. Choose Preferences.

3. Head to the Privacy tab, and next to Advanced settings.

4. Tick Block all cookies.

Final thoughts

Safari in Mac OS is renowned for its robust security and privacy features. Leveraging these functionalities is imperative in safeguarding your digital footprint. If well utilized, these privacy and security settings effectively fortify your online security, shielding yourself from potential threats.

About the Author
A Fintech expert and have aimed to produce affordable, market-leading technology to update payment methods, bringing intelligent solutions to all types of businesses.
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