Archive for the ‘MacOS Privacy & Security’ Category

KnowYourStuff home inventory tool

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

screenshot of KnowYourStuff

How much stuff do you have? Sure, you have a lot of things, but what exactly do you have? Nobody likes to think about it, but there are times when that precise list may become vital.

If your home were to be burglarized, or if a fire or some natural disaster should befall you, your insurance company is going to want a complete list of what was lost, including names, numbers, purchase dates, values, and more. That's a lot more than "some computers and other stuff."

Of course, the time to take a detailed inventory is before you need to use it. A software tool like KnowYourStuff may be a good way to make sure you're prepared for this unfortunate eventuality. This easy-to-use tool makes taking and recording inventory information much less onerous. The setup wizard makes it easy to start, prompting your for the names of the rooms in your house. Working room-by-room, you can go through the process of adding to your list. Once your inventory is complete, it's easy to add additional items over time when they acquired.

Once you're done, you can store your inventory electronically (hard drive, CD-ROM, remote location) or print it out and stick it in your safe deposit box. They also have an optional paid service where you can upload your list.

KnowYourStuff is a free download. It's available for both Windows (Win2k or later) and Mac (OS X 120.3 or later).

Download KnowYourStuff

iAntiVirus offers security for Mac systems

Friday, September 5th, 2008

screenshot of iAntiVirus

There aren't tons of Cupertino-hating viruses out there, but it's still prudent to keep your system as buttoned-up as possible. There are several free options for anti-virus tools out there for Windows machines, but not so many for Macs. iAntiVirus is one of the latter.

Created by the folks at PC Tools, iAntiVirus will help protect your Mac against infection by viruses, worms, and many of the other "nasties" that can at best slow your system down, and at worst wipe out your personal data and more.

While you can use it to scan your system on a regular basis to look for problems, it also helps you to stay secure in real time, running silently in the background keeping an eye on things. It includes automatic "smart update" functionality, making sure that your protection is always up to date.

iAntiVirus is a Mac application. It only runs on Intel-based Macs, and requires OS X 10.5 or later.

Download iAntiVirus

Adeona theft recovery tool

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

screenshot of Adeona

Could there be anything more horrible than the loss of your laptop computer? Well, yes, I suppose so, but it's certainly pretty high up on the list. Whether you misplaced your machine, or somebody decided to acquire it via "five finger discount", now you're here and your baby's somewhere else. If you'd like to be reunited, it would be a good idea to have installed Adeona on your machine before it goes missing.

Adeona, named after the Roman goddess of "safe returns", is a free, open source tool that lets you track your laptop or any other computer. Unlike proprietary solutions, you don't have to rely on a server somewhere keeping track of the whereabouts of your machine—meaning they could keep track of where you go, as well as where any potential thief may go with your system. Adeona "phones home" about every half hour, but not on an exact schedule, making it a little tricker to detect its use. It reports back a wealth of information about your missing computer: IP address, nearby routers, wireless hotspots currently in use. The Mac version can even use your built-in camera to snap a photo of the thief.

It's important to remember that while Adeona can help you locate your missing computer, and perhaps even implicate the thief, that you should then report this information to law enforcement or other appropriate authorities and not try to effect a recovery yourself.

A free download, Adeona is available for Linux, OS X (10.4+), and Windows (XP+) users.

Download Adeona

Free online password manager

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

screenshot of Passpack

A simple password is an ineffective password. A single password that you use for multiple purposes is a risky password. By the time you cover all the bases—complex, mixed upper- and lower case, alphanumeric and punctuation marks, no dictionary words—you've got a list of great passwords, but alas now you can't remember any of them. You need a "password locker" tool to keep track of them all. That's fine, as long as you always sit at the same desk with the same machine. What if you're out and about and need one of your passwords? Now you're in trouble. Enter Passpack.

Passpack is an online password manager tool. You can enter up to 100 entries for free, and they don't have to be just passwords. Save emergency info, travel info, confirmation numbers, all that sort of thing. The one thing they do ask is that you not store financial information here. Should everything go south, it's one thing if somebody can log into your blog; it's a totally different matter if they should log into your bank account and clean you out.

For most purposes, Passpack should give you plenty of security for your data. You always connect via secure HTTPS connections, and your data is super-encrypted as it sits on their servers. They've even got "disposable log-ins" for use on public computers. Pretty cool.

Passpack is a free service, and should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download Passpack

Secure password storage

Monday, May 19th, 2008

screenshot of Password Safe

How many passwords and logins do you have to keep track of? Work, home, banking, various online accounts—it's probably anywhere from several to dozens. If you're using reasonable passwords for these accounts—long, a mix of characters, no dictionary words, and different passwords for each account—then it's going to be just about impossible to remember them all. While a bunch of Post-Its stuck on your monitor may be the standard way to save a list like this, it's not really the preferred way. There's just not much security when your passwords scream "Free! Take one!" to anybody who happens to walk by.

Password Safe is an application that lets you keep track of all those passwords, and keeps everybody else out of them. With Password Safe, all you have to do is remember one password, and now all the rest of them are safely tucked away for you. You can choose to store all your information in one database, or you can use multiple ones—one for work, one for home, one for shopping, etc.

Password Safe is available for Windows, and also in a Java version that will run on Linux and Mac machines as well.

Download Password Safe

Keep all your info secure with CiphSafe

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

screenshot of CiphSafe

There's all kinds of stuff we need to keep secure. Logins, passwords, credit card info, the list goes on and on. Here's a tool that will keep things as secure as possible.

CiphSafe is an app that lets you easily save login and password pairs, or any other information that you want to keep really, really secure. You create a document that holds all your secret stuff, give it a password, and you're done. Keep all your stuff in one document, or create multiple docs, one for home, another for work, etc. There's room in each entry for a pretty good sized note, so you don't have to worry about coming back later to find some cryptic message whose meaning is now lost to you.

CiphSafe uses a 320-bit key, so it is just about as secure as you can get. This, or course, means that you should never, ever forget your passphrase, because you're not going to get into your document without it.

CiphSafe is a Mac tool. The current release requires OS X 10.4+, but there is a down-rev version still available for users running 10.2.

Download CiphSafe

Free Anonymoys Web Surfing

Thursday, September 1st, 2005


We love what the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation does — defending Americans’ rights in the digital age — and have supported them for ages. (And encourage you to do so also.) We also love Tor, a free system for online privacy created by the EFF. Tor helps “anonymize” your web browsing and other online activity, bouncing your traffic around the Internet rather than letting it take a direct route. This “covers your tracks” so curious webmasters, online advertising companies, and just plain sneaky folk can’t tell where the data came from or where it's going. The nifty part is: the more people that use Tor, the better protection of anonymity it provides for everyone who uses it.

Get Tor