Guess what? There’s a lot going on across the internet that the average person doesn’t know about. What’s the biggest use of bandwidth? Movies. What kind? Guess. It’s starts with the letter P. Every device connected to the internet is the target of hackers.
Your Mac is under siege daily from an untold number of bots, scammers, hackers, crawlers, and every sort of nefarious snoop from the underworld of humanity. Oddly enough, a chunk of the internet connect bandwidth our devices use each month comes from within our Macs (and iPhones and iPads). That’s right. Nearly every application on your Mac is phoning home. Which ones? And When?
Hands On Means Hands Off!
Many years ago I installed Little Snitch on my Mac and was shocked to learn how many different apps were making internet connections. Sure, OS X does it all the time, but so do most other apps. Where are they connecting to? What are they doing? Little Snitch helped to track them down.
Since then we’ve learned of government spooks hacking and spying on their own citizens, constant attacks from both friendly and unfriendly foreign governments, so it’s easy to understand why paranoid is a good attitude to have. That’s what develops when every is out to get you.,
Enter another Mac utility for the paranoid Mac user. It’s called Hands Off!, a background utility which monitors your Mac’s internet connections– incoming and outgoing. That means it watches what you can’t see, lets you know when an app is phoning home, and helps to block attacks from the outside by locking down the inside of your Mac’s communication ports.
Here’s how it works. Install Hands Off! and it immediately begins watching and blocking both incoming and outgoing communication connections to and from your Mac. When it detects one that is unexpected, you get a pop up which lets you always allow, or always deny, or always ask permission for the app to connect to the outside world.
You can be notified when every app on the Mac wants to make a connection to the internet or network. Settings allow you to setup and allow basic apps, though; including Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, and others which normally need to connect.
Hands Off! is so useful you can use it to block everything, or only those specific apps you’d rather not make connections. But it goes further. The app also prevents certain apps from reading specific files. It blocks browsers from storing cookies. Hands Off! can protect your Mac from malware, too, including Trojans and worms, and others.
Much of that protection is handled in the background, but if you’re really paranoid, Hands Off! can be configured with global rules or granular rules using various Unix tools, domain resolving, and other network connections. Every app on your Mac can be viewed in a detailed list which displays the apps name, type of connection, and any rules which are applied, either automatically, or configured by the user.
Not only does Hands Off! monitor network connections and apps, but it also monitors apps which have access to your Mac’s disk, either preventing or allowing them to read documents, or write files to storage. Hands Off! can appear a bit geeky to setup and use, and it can be annoying as you filter through all the apps that phone home (there are more than you think), but it’s a godsend to any Mac user who wants an extra layer of protection in a world filled with unscrupulous hackers who attempt to sabotage or compromise our devices.