Using Zoom? Take these steps to protect your privacy [Update]

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yoga class zoom
Zoom lets you keep attending your local yoga class, but at what cost?
Photo: Anupam Mahapatra/Unsplash

Video-conferencing tool Zoom is seeing a surge in use during the coronavirus pandemic, due to people being stuck at home and unable to meet in meatspace groups. I’ve read about people using Zoom to drop in on yoga and pilates classes, as well as for more usual business-related activities.

Hackers see COVID-19 as a big opportunity for new exploits

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hacker
We should be even more vigilant online.
Photo: Clint Patterson

A new report published on Friday by the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) details the many ways hackers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit unsuspecting targets.

It includes new social engineering attacks that convince email users to give up sensitive data, and an increase in malware distributed via malicious links. Europol calls for law enforcement agencies to be vigilant and prepared.

How to switch off iCloud backups, and why you might not want to

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iCloud backups locker room
Apple might keep iCloud backups locked in rooms like this one.
Photo: Liz Weddon/Unsplash

Last week’s revelation that iCloud backups can be accessed by Apple, and are regularly given to law enforcement agencies, came as a big surprise to many people. Isn’t Apple the company that claims to protect your data? While your iPhone or iPad is locked down, much of your iCloud data, including1 your iMessages, is available to Apple. The only way to prevent Apple, and government agencies, from accessing that data is to switch off iCloud backups, and make local backups instead.

Facebook Messenger could protect your messages with Face ID

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Face ID
An extra layer of protection for your messages.
Photo: Apple

Facebook Messenger could soon add Face ID support to protect your conversations from nosy neighbors.

The feature would prevent access to Messenger until it is first unlocked with your face. It seems like a useful addition to the app for the security-conscious, but it’s still in development for now.

How to stop Safari asking permission to download everything

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safari download
Imagine if real deliveries had to be given permission to arrive. What a second…
Photo: Kelli McClintock/Unsplash

Ever since Safari 13, the Mac browser now prompts you every time you try to download a file. In this way, it behaves much like Safari for iOS. It’s a security feature, clearly designed to stop websites sneaking files onto your computer. But perhaps you value the convenience of uncontrolled downloads more than this added security? If so, you’re in luck, because you can turn this feature off. Better still, you can still block Safari downloads from “bad” sites, even while allowing new ones automatically.

How to safely erase your iPad, iPhone or Mac before returning it

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The hardest part of returning a MacBook is removing the stickers.
The hardest part of returning a MacBook is removing the stickers.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you get a MacBook, iPhone, or iPad this holiday season? Are you going to return it? The good news is that, even if the gift was purchased back in November, you can still return it thanks to Apple’s generous holiday return policy. But if you’ve already set things up and used the iDevice of the Mac, then you need to wipe your data off before you return it. Here’s how.

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Get a great deal on a VPN for your Mac with PureVPN.
Get a great deal on a VPN for your Mac.
Image: PureVPN

Can’t launch your apps on macOS Catalina? Here’s the fix

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no entry sign
Catalina makes opening non-approved apps scary.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

macOS 10.15 Catalina is ruthless about launching unknown apps. Unless your app comes direct from the App Store, or the app’s developer got the app notarized by Apple, it won’t launch. Double click on it, and you’ll see a warning — and nothing else. There’s no option to say you trust the app and launch it despite Catalina’s warnings.

But you can still launch those apps. It’s just that Apple hides the controls in the hope that you’ll give up. It’s petty, and it shows a lack of respect for you, the user. However, it’s also dead easy to fix this problem. Let’s see how to launch any app on macOS Catalina.

How to unlock your Mac with Apple Watch

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Apple Watch Unlock in action.
Apple Watch Unlock in action.
Photo: Apple

Maybe my favorite Continuity feature is Apple Watch Unlock for the Mac. Once you set it up, you’ll never need to enter your password to unlock your Mac ever again — not until you restart it, anyway. It’s one of the best examples of Apple’s It Just Works™ philosophy, and it will change the way you use your Mac.