Way back when, at least in dog years, I introduced a nifty Mac utility called NOYB, a free app which monitors both the Mac’s microphone and camera so you can see if anyone is spying on you.
It was supposed to be a Friday Freebie app but I didn’t get around to publishing it until Monday. Well, here we are again, dog years into the future, and NOYB is no more. Now it’s called Micro Snitch and it has a price tag. Friday Freebies just are not what they used to be.
Who’s Watching You?
Excuse the weekend of true confession but I don’t claim to be much a Mac power geek so I can’t claim to know how Micro Snitch spies on the spies that might be spying on you with your very own Mac.
Micro Snitch is from the same folks who publish Little Snitch, one of our favorite Mac privacy and security tracking apps, so maybe there’s something to this new of monitoring the monitors.
Micro Snitch runs in the background but resides in the Mac’s Menubar. Click to activate the Mac’s built-in microphone or the FaceTime camera. What does it do? Basically, Micro Snitch monitors your Mac’s mic and camera and tells you if any other application is using either one.
If someone has installed some nefarious malware to record sound on your Mac or record video using the built-in camera, Micro Snitch will know, and snitch. Even if you use the mic or camera Micro Snitch displays a screen overlay so you know for sure what’s happening.
Not only does Micro Snitch monitor both mic and camera, it also records a log of activities– yours or malware or an unfriendly family member or co-worker who loves to spy on you with your very own Mac.
To view the log simply click on the Micro Snitch icon in the Mac’s Menubar, then select the Open Activity Log… button.
What Micro Snitch is doing is more of an exercise of simply letting you know when the mic or camera are in use. The microphone doesn’t have a visible setting in OS X so you know when sound is being recorded. The FaceTime camera has a little red light but that can be obscured or simply not visible unless you’re looking directly at the screen or camera.
The app also notifies you of usage by way of Notifications, and they are read by VoiceOver automatically. Otherwise, Micro Snitch is a good utility for Mac users with more than the normal amounts of technology paranoia– and the right Mac hardware. Therein lies the rub. Both the developer’s version and the Mac App Store version appear to be the same, but there’s a long list of Macs which do not play nice-nice with Micro Snitch.
So, caveat emptor applies here. When it works, it’s great. When it does not work, it’s useless. So, make sure to download the trial version first to ensure compatibility with your Mac.