Mac Security Software Roundup - Page 2

By Joe Kissell
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Firewall Software

Mac OS X has a decent built-in firewall (even though the Leopard version is perhaps less flexible than the Tiger version was). Strangely, it’s turned off by default, but that’s easily remedied with a couple of clicks. However, if you want more control than Apple’s meager user interface offers, you can choose a third-party alternative.

Of these options, Intego NetBarrier X5 is the more user-friendly by far. DoorStop X is more geek-oriented, but offers tremendous flexibility. (Unfortunately, Norton’s Personal Firewall for Macintosh has not been updated for Leopard compatibility.)

DoorStop X ($49, or $79 as part of DoorStop X Security Suite, which includes Who’s There? Firewall Advisor and the ebook “Internet Security for Your Macintosh”)

Intego NetBarrier X5 ($49.95)

Related to these are a couple of programs that have firewall-type features but focus mainly on alerting you to suspicious incoming traffic. Who’s There? Firewall Advisor is much easier to use, while IPNetSentryX has advanced filtering and blocking features.

Who’s There? Firewall Advisor ($39, or $79 as part of DoorStop X Security Suite)

IPNetSentryX ($60)

The flip side of that task is monitoring programs that are making outbound Internet connections behind your back—which could be for legitimate purposes (like checking for updates) or something more sinister. The best tool for this job is Little Snitch:

Little Snitch ($29.95; volume discounts and family licenses also available)


Although spyware of all kinds is rampant on Windows, there’s currently very little of it that runs on Mac OS X—if by “spyware” you mean things like keyloggers and programs that report on what Web sites you visit.

However, phishing emails and their associated Web sites can certainly affect Mac users, as can Web browser cookies that track certain kinds of browsing behavior.

MacScan can delete all cookies, just those from a particular browser, or just those that match a blacklist of “tracking cookies.” It also detects keyloggers and some Trojan horses (see MacScan for a list).

Macscan ($29.99; 3-user family pack, $49.99)

1Password, my favorite password utility, takes an entirely different approach to anti-phishing and anti-keylogging protection. If you always rely on this tool to create, store, and fill in your passwords, you’re protected against phishing attacks (because the fake sites won’t match the URLs associated with your stored passwords, so the program won’t fill them in) and, to a certain extent, keylogging (because you need never actually type your passwords at all).

1Password ($34.95)


Bundles of multiple security programs are very much the norm in the Windows world, but for Macs, there’s really only one suite worth mentioning: Intego Security Barrier X5. It comes in two editions; both include NetBarrier (firewall) and VirusBarrier, but the Antispam Edition also includes Personal Antispam, while the Backup Edition includes Personal Backup. (Norton’s Internet Security 3.0 suite has not been updated for compatibility with Tiger or Leopard.)

Intego Internet Security Barrier X5

Antispam Edition (NetBarrier, VirusBarrier, Personal Antispam): $89.95

Backup Edition (NetBarrier, VirusBarrier, Personal Backup): $99.95

Final Thoughts

Windows users have a much wider selection of security software—but then, they have a much greater need for it, too. Most Mac users can get by perfectly well with nothing more than a good antispam program. But if you need more—or simply want to be extra cautious—you can put together a first-class collection of tools from the options listed above.

Adapted from ITManagement.earthweb.com.

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This article was originally published on May 29, 2008
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