Secure & Monitor Your Mac With Little Snitch

Have you ever wondered what applications are doing after you launched them. Are they collecting personal information or contacting an activation server? Do you worry that piece of freeware you just downloaded could cost you your privacy?

Little Snitch is here to solve this problem by acting as a intermediator between your applications and the internet. Little Snitch will alert you every time that an application tries to connect to the internet, giving you a brief overview of what server and port the application is using.

Getting Started

Little Snitch installation is fairly simple, just run the installer script and restart your computer when prompted.

LittleSnitch Installer: Little Snitch is simple to install, just run the included installer and it will do all the work

LittleSnitch Installer: Little Snitch is simple to install, just run the included installer and it will do all the work

The first step with Little Snitch is training it, and teaching it what connections to always allow. Each time an application – system or third party – tries to connect to the internet, Little Snitch will display a popup asking you about the connection.

LittleSnitch Allow or Deny: Decide where to allow or deny connection

LittleSnitch Allow or Deny: Decide where to allow or deny connection

You can easily choose whether to Allow or Deny the connection with options to Always Allow/Deny or only until the application closes. After all the core applications and system processes have been allowed, Little Snitch will sit dormant in your menu bar. It only takes up a small amount of resources, and protects your valuable information.

Besides network monitoring, Little Snitch also features a real-time connection indicator that when enabled will display a small table of applications connecting to the internet. This is useful for security concerned users who find themselves wondering which applications are currently connecting to the outside world. You can even configure it to display when you hover over the Little Snitch menubar icon.

HUD Display

HUD Display

Working with Little Snitch

Little Snitch might seem temperamental at first glance, always popping up, even when you’re just trying to load a new webpage. By using the “Always Allow” feature for trusted applications, you can stop these pop-ups.

The same goes with a certain web address or port number. If you constantly are using a certain port like 21 for an FTP client, or 3900 for Sever Admin, you can whitelist both.

Rule List: Easily create, modify, or delete rules from Little Snitch

Rule List: Easily create, modify, or delete rules from Little Snitch

Little Snitch also has a great manager for all these rules that you’ve set. When you go into Little Snitch preferences you can view all the blocked or allowed apps. You can change rules from blocked to allowed, or even delete entries from the rule list.

The rules list will also let you customize how long rules stay in affect, so if you accidentally selected until Quit, you can rectify this here. By using the Invalid Rules selection, you can see rules created for applications which can no longer be found.

LittleSnitch Invalid Rules

LittleSnitch Invalid Rules

Some Minor Tweaks

Little Snitch works amazingly well. So amazingly well that at first it’s annoying to some. This could be solved with an opt-in whitelist that users could allow. Perhaps when Little Snitch is first launched, it could ask if you would like to load rules from the database. This could prevent annoyances when Software Update or Safari asks to connect to the web.

The benefit of an opt-in whitelist is that it still retains security. If you don’t mind the initial pop-ups and would like to monitor where system application go, you don’t have to opt-in for the database.

Another small tweak that could be made is the ability to trust games that run full-screen. By default, Little Snitch will automatically block applications if they automatically run in full-screen mode. This is obvious because you wouldn’t be able to click the pop-up window.

But for avid gamers, this might cause problems with online multiplayer if – by default – they are blocked. Perhaps Little Snitch could implement a “waiting for approval” tab that allows you to quickly go back and select applications that have been automatically blocked. This would be faster than the current process of scanning the rules list for the application you were just using and adjusting the command.

The icon does look a bit dated and could be due for an update to a more modern look!

In Conclusion

Little Snitch is a very effective firewall for outgoing connections that requires little or no technical knowledge. Just choose either Allow or Deny – that’s all. Setting it up takes only a few minutes and protects your privacy. Whether it’s an application collecting usage data, or validating your software, you always know what’s going on with Little Snitch.

Little Snitch also has a great evaluation policy for users wanting to test before they buy it. You can use and install Little Snitch for 3 hours before it reminds you to purchase it. You can then re-activate it with a few clicks and can continue using it again, fully featured. Purchasing removes any reminders.


Summary

As soon as you’re connected to the Internet, applications can potentially send whatever information they want to wherever they want.Sometimes they do this for good reason, on your explicit request. But often they don’t. Little Snitch allows you to intercept these unwanted connection attempts, and lets you decide how to proceed.

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  • niels

    this is really an amazing program. Allready use it for some months now and ones set up, it works like a charm :)

  • http://log.tuananh.ws tuan anh

    great app for those who are using cracked apps =)

  • http://classictutorials.com Kaushik

    This is the very first app to get install after i reinstall mac. Best firewall for mac.

  • http://www.hi-pk.com buzukh

    Nice post you done very well work
    and Im also do on it daily  WEBDESIGNING & BLOGGING

  • Elad

    A must have app on every mac. And It’s almost free!
    Love it.

  • Bretton L

    Are there any applications similar to little snitch that do not block connections but allow you to monitor them? I want to see which applications use which ports and protocols but I don’t want to have to worry about it blocking anything.

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