Archive for the ‘MacOS Privacy & Security’ Category

Cross-platform tool to encrypt files

Friday, July 1st, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of JavaEncryptor

Everybody's got something they want to hide. Whether it's that photo of you with a lampshade on your head that you don't want the kids to see, or the business plan for your next killer startup, it's nice to be able to encrypt files to keep your stuff to yourself. So how do you plan to go about that?

JavaEncryptor is a tool that pretty much tells you everything you need to know in its name. It's a Java app, so it will run on Linux, Mac, Windows, or just about any other system that has a current Java runtime installed. And the "encryptor" part means that you will take your original source file and turn it into encrypted gobbledegook, making it impossible for any mere mortal to see what's in that file. It's got a simple interface—just click the Encrypt button—and you can browse to the file you want to work on, enter a password, and go. While it encrypts your file, it's also compressing it, a handy added bonus.

JavaEncryptor is a free download.

Download JavaEncryptor

Track your Mac

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of VigiMac

Sometimes life is just too hard. Relationships can be tricky, retail help can be downright unhelpful. And then somebody swipes your laptop. You really know you're going to have a bad day now.

VigiMac is a tool that, while it can't prevent your computer from being taken, may well help you to recover it. Once you install this app on your Mac, it phones home on a regular basis: every three minutes it contacts VigiMac's server. When it's reporting from your home or work location, nobody really cares, but once it's gone missing, things change. Now once somebody goes online with it, it will send back its IP address and you and the authorities have something to go in in terms of trying to track your property down.

VigiMac is a free Mac application. You can install it and use it to track one or two machines, or with a donation you can watch additional computers. It runs under OS X on systems using Tiger (10.4) or later.

Download VigiMac

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

Back in the day, one of the more compelling reasons to buy a computer from the folks at Apple was that since there weren't as many of them out there, they were inherently safer: why would some nefarious hacker create an evil virus that targeted somewhere under five percent of all the machines sitting on desktops, when there was a world's worth of Windows boxes to go after. Over time, though, the installed base of various flavors of Macs has increased, and the day will come, if it hasn't already, when somebody's going to decide it's worth their while to put some nasty virus, Trojan, or worm out there that's going to eat your shiny new MacBook for lunch. And that's not good.

Sophos has a free antivirus solution for your Mac. It'll protect you from bad things that land on your machine, as well as Windows files that you may be handling in transit from here to there. It is updated constantly, so you're not protecting against just the last virus out there, but anticipating the next one as well, and since it monitors behavior as well as signatures, it can detect so-called zero day exploits even before they have a name, as well as dealing with all the oldies-but-goodies flying around out there.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac runs under OS X version 10.4 and later.

Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

App helps stolen laptops phone home

Friday, April 9th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Prey

It's the nightmare nobody wants to think about: somebody's taken your laptop. Sure, maybe it was just an accident, since many of them look the same. but nevertheless, whether through careless mistake or by deliberate theft by some low-life, you are here and your computer is somewhere else. With the cost of your system—to say nothing of all the important data that lives on it—on the line, you'd sure like to get it back, pronto.

Prey is a tool that just might give you a hand with that. Obviously you have to install it before your laptop goes missing—something about closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped—but it can then assist you in the recovery effort. The way it works is this: at a pre-determined interval, Prey checks for the existence of a specific URL. If it finds it, everything is just hunky-dory. But if the machine has gone missing, all you have to do is to get rid of the page at that address, and Prey will know that something's up. At that point, it will do things like report on where it is and what it's doing—and if you've got a webcam, you may even get a picture of the thief. It can use a wired connection, or search for a viable Wi-Fi signal, and for Mac and Linux systems, you can install the app as Root, so your thief doesn't even have to be logged in to let you know what's up.

Prey is available for Windows, Mac, and various Linux distros, or if you're really feeling adventurous, you can grab the source code and roll it yourself.

Download Prey

Keep track of passwords and more

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of LastPass

Everybody agrees that when it comes to passwords, bigger is better. After all, one of the best ways to frustrate a brute-force attack is to increase geometrically the number of combinations of characters that are necessary. Add to this all the other safeguards that are included in any robust password protection scheme—upper- and lower case alphabetic characters, numbers, and a few punctuation marks, no dictionary words, etc.—and you've gone a long way toward keeping your accounts secure. The flip side of that, of course, is the impossibility of remembering dozens of unique 40-character passwords for all of your financial- and other accounts.

LastPass is an online password manager. All you need to remember is your password to get into LastPass, and everything else can be as complicated—and safe—as you want. Along with passwords, it also remembers all that other fill-in-the-blank stuff you need to speed-up the process of entering your information into web forms: name, address, credit card numbers, the whole thing.

It's available as a desktop app for Windows, or as a plugin for your Windows, Mac, or Linux web browser.

Download LastPass

Free collection of Mac applications

Friday, March 20th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of MacLibre

No matter how much the purveyors of shrink-wrapped software would have you believe it, there really is no reason to have to spend a small—or not so small—fortune on applications to run on your computer. That's not to say that the fine folks at Microsoft and all the other big name development shops don't put out some pretty cool tools, but an awful lot of what you want to do can be done with apps that don't cost you a dime.

Not so much an application, MacLibre is sort of a "greatest hits" collection of free software for your Macintosh. Now instead of running all over the place grabbing individual apps, you can download the whole pile all at once.

MacLibre includes productivity tools like NeoOffice (a Mac-ized version of OpenOffice), Internet tools and browsers, sound and graphics editors (Audacity and GIMP), and a bunch of utility apps as well. You could find yourself with a pretty well equipped system for the cost of only a few minutes worth of downloading.

MacLibre is distributed as a Universal Binary. That means that it'll run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs; you should be able to use it on systems that are running Panther (OS X 10.3) or later.

Download MacLibre

Create Encrypted Disk Images

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of SecureFiles

One of the more helpful things about living in the world of the Mac is the ease and convenience of creating disk images on the fly for archiving applications and documents. A couple of clicks of the mouse, and you've got a nice, neat little bundle of data—a DMG file—that you can store away, or even easily transport without whacking any file's Mac-ness—resource fork, Finder metadata, icons, and all that good stuff. Here's a tool that takes that ability and goes one better.

SecureFiles lets you create images, but it adds the ability to encrypt those images as well. Just tell it how big your image needs to be, give it a password, and start dragging files into it. It uses 128-bit AES encryption, so it's not likely that your data's going to be easily compromised. As a nice added bonus, if you guessed wrong when you originally established your image's size, you can compact it without breaking it.

SecureFiles is a Mac application. It runs under OS X version 10.4 or later.

Download SecureFiles

E-book helps you tighten security on Windows systems

Friday, February 20th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy E-book

Microsoft Windows is a handy place to live. It's widely available, everybody writes apps for it, and there is a lot of support available out there. That's all good. But there is a darker side to the O/S from Redmond as well.

Your system likes to keep track of where you've been, and what you've produced. Your Word and Excel documents can be traced back to you. Your web browsing history is no secret. Indeed, there are a whole host of possible security issues that come along with Windows. Maybe it's time to see what you can do to tighten up your security.

How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy is a free downloadable e-book. In simple and straightforward terms, the author explains what kinds of security threats you should guard against on your computer and small office/home office network. There are recommendations for no-cost online tools you can use, and free software you can install on your system that can help to tighten up the security of your system and make your computing safer.

How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy is a free download. You'll need to have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 5 or later) to read the e-book.

Download How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy E-book

Keep track of passwords with Password Gorilla

Friday, October 10th, 2008

screenshot of Password Gorilla

Everything's got a password. Online bank accounts. Online mail accounts. Editing your blog. Logging in to your network at work. That's a lot of accounts, and that means a lot of passwords.

Now you can avoid having to remember a bunch of login information if you always use the same short passwords that are based on dictionary words or easily knowable personal facts about yourself, or if you always write them down on sticky notes and hang them on your monitor. Of course, with that approach, you can also forget about keeping your money, identity, work product, and everything else that those passwords are supposed to protect. If you really want to keep things safe, you should use long, complicated, impossible-to-remember passwords, and change them regularly. Good luck keeping track of all that.

Password Gorilla may be the tool you've been looking for. A cross platform app for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and more, it helps you to use passwords the way they were intended. Now instead of having to remember a whole brain-full of passwords, you can store account names, passwords, URLs, notes, and more in Password Gorilla's encrypted database. Now you only have to remember one password, and everything else is safe and sound behind it. If you're feeling particularly uninspired, it will help you generate serious passwords that nobody is likely to crack in this (or several more) lifetimes.

Password Gorilla is a free download.

Download Password Gorilla

Lockdown anti-theft application

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

screenshot of Lockdown

Where's that memo? I'm sure I had it here just a minute ago. It must have gotten up and walked away on its own.

I'm sure I'll find the memo, since we know it didn't really sprout legs and walk away. But what about other things on your desktop? Like your computer?

No, your trusty Mac isn't likely to walk away on its own either, but if it had some help—the dreaded "five-finger discount," for example—it might well part ways with you. And that's bad, right?

This may be a job for Lockdown. An anti-theft application that runs on your system, once it's up and running, anything from the slightest tap on your computer will set off audible alarms, which can't be shut off or muted. It'll even snap a picture of the perpetrator with your built-in iSight camera. It can even email a copy of that photo to you. Once it's back in your hands, it's easy to turn off the racket, using your Apple Remote or by typing your password back into your computer.

Lockdown is an OS X application. It requires Leopard (10.5) or later.

Download Lockdown