One of our favorite Mac utilities that gives you more control over which apps can phone home is the legendary Little Snitch.
Nothing gives you more tools, options, and features to prevent– or allow– apps to make connections from inside your Mac to servers elsewhere on the interwebs. Here’s a free way to get some of the same basic functionality.
That Be Evil
This week Apple yanked a number of applications from the Mac App Store because they were caught gathering user information, zipping it up in an archive, and sending it off to China. How would you know an app is doing such shenanigans? Thanks to developers like Objective-See, which seems to specialize in tools and utilities that help thwart those that be evil, you can do what they do.
Enter Lulu, a free Mac utility that blocks outgoing communication from apps to wherever they phone home.
[Lulu’s]goal is simple; block any unknown outgoing connections, until approved by the user. While it was designed to generically detect malware by flagging unauthorized networking connections, LuLu can also be used to block OS components or 3rd-party applications from transmitting information to remote servers.
Whoa! Lofty goals, right?
Lulu pops up an alert whenever an unauthorized network connection is attempted by an application; good or bad. Safari, for example, is authorized. Mail, Calendar, Messages, et al, too. Adware Doctor? No.
How does Lulu work? Install and wait.
Lulu will display which app is trying to phone home, which port on macOS it’s trying to use, the actual process ID, the IP address, more. You get the option to Block or Allow.
LuLu aims to alert you whenever an unauthorized network connection is attempted. As such, it can generically detect malware, or be used to block legitimate applications that may be transmitting private data to remote servers.
No, Lulu does not have all the same bells and whistles you’ll find in Little Snitch. Lulu is free, does not display ads, does not track or spy on your Mac, and the application’s source code is freely available on GitHub for full transparency.
Only one. Lulu is an either or proposition. It allows an app to connect or it prevents an app from connecting to the outside world. Again, bells and whistles usually have a price tag, so if you’re intrigued about another level of security on your Mac, give Lulu a try; if you need more control, Little Snitch comes with a pedigree, too.