I read somewhere recently that Macs ship by default with OS X’s firewall turned off. Off? If Apple isn’t worried about such security issues why should I be worried? Still, I wondered if there was an easier way to add a few layers of extra security without having to attend a community college class on computer science.
It didn’t take much of a search to find dozens of Mac apps that add security layers. The one I’ve used for the past week is Hands Off! and I’ll admit a fondness for it already. Why? Once it’s setup there’s not much to do but keep using the Mac and wait for an intruder to trip the traps.
Hands Off! works by monitoring both incoming and outgoing internet connections (and files on the Mac). Every Mac app, including those you don’t know about, have to pass through Hands Off! to connect to the internet, and you get a pop up warning to allow or disallow.
Apps such as Mail and Safari obviously need incoming and outgoing connections, but other apps attempt to do so even when there is no overriding need. With Hands Off! apps won’t be able to ‘phone home’ without your permission (and you’ll know which ones try). And, you get a lengthy list of all apps and their security status.
Because Hands Off! also monitors files on the Mac’s disk storage, it can block trojans, worms, and other malware. Anytime an app trips on a trip, you get a notification from Hands Off!
The only real problem I’ve encountered so far is that Hands Off! is busy for a few days popping up notices of network connection offenders. It’s a good learning process, though. You’ll be surprised how many Mac apps attempt to use a network connection, and how many outsiders are trying to become the intruder of the day.