Here’s a little know fact. There are apps on your Mac which phone home. That means they’re connecting to who knows where in the world to check this or that, upload or download data, and do who knows what.
Alright, sensationalism aside, most of us know that Mail checks email accounts. Safari browses the web. Calendar and Contacts sync between Macs, iPhone, and iPad, and iCloud. That’s as it should be and expected. Also obvious is that some apps you install check for updates themselves. But that’s about all we know about what goes on behind the scenes. Here’s a way to learn more.
Who Monitors Monitors?
For years I used Little Snitch to tell me which Mac apps were using my internet connection. The results are eye opening. There’s plenty of activity going on that most of us don’t know about, but probably should.
However, the app I’ve been using this week is called Graphical Network Monitor and what it does is somewhat unique in the tracking world. Here’s what you get. First, a list at the bottom of all the applications making network connections, including your IP address, the remote IP address, status, amount of bandwidth used, and the location.
That’s right. The location.
Graphical Network Monitor plots those connections on a map so you can see where they connect, how much bandwidth they consume, and more. Unfortunately, you cannot be apprised of what the connection does, but a paranoid attitude can be a good thing. The developers claim the app is ‘by the Paranoid for the Paranoid.’ I understand the sentiment. After all, if everyone is out to get you, paranoia is the right attitude to have.
What I would like to see in Graphical Network Monitor is something akin to a glossary which displays the meaning or definition of the basic Mac operations and network connections. Anything that is com.apple.geod or Core Sync, I’m less worried about, but OS X has many services running network connections in the background so a filter which covers those and highlights the more nefarious operations would be a plus.
Regardless, just like Little Snitch, this is an eye opener. And what’s with all those links to China?