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How to Secure Your Mac with a Firewall and Stealth Mode

While it’s widely believed that Macs are generally more secure than Windows, it’s important to remember that they are not completely immune to hackers and malware. Macs do have built-in features that can enhance security and protect users. In this article, we’ll explore how to effectively use the firewall and stealth mode on your Mac to enhance your security.

Using a Firewall on Your Mac

Before we dive into the steps of using a firewall on your Mac, let’s understand why a firewall is important. A firewall acts as a barrier between your Mac and potential threats from outside sources, such as harmful connections or malicious actors. It’s not the same as traditional antivirus software, but it plays a crucial role in safeguarding your system.

Even when using a Mac, your system can still be targeted if you’re connected to an untrusted or unknown network. To effectively use a firewall on your Mac, follow these steps:

Step 1: Access the Firewall Settings

Click on the Apple logo at the top left corner of your Mac screen and open System Preferences. From there, choose “Security & Privacy,” and click on the Firewall tab.

how to use a firewall and stealth mode on mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Enable Firewall

Click the lock button at the bottom-left corner, enter your username and password (if you’re an administrator), and then select the “Turn on Firewall” button.

Step 3: Customize Firewall Settings

If you want more control over the firewall, you can click the “Firewall Options” button. Here, you can fine-tune your settings based on your preferences. Here are some options available in macOS Monterey:

  • Allow only specified apps and services to connect: By clicking the “Add” button, you can choose which apps or services are allowed to connect to your Mac. You have the flexibility to allow or block incoming connections for each application you add.

  • Allow only essential apps and services to connect: You can select the “Block All Incoming Connections” option to only allow connections from essential apps and services.

  • Automatically allow built-in software to receive incoming connections: This option is enabled by default and allows default Apple apps integrated into your Mac to receive incoming connections.

  • Automatically allow downloaded signed software to receive incoming connections: This option is also enabled by default and permits any software signed by a valid certificate authority to provide services accessed from the network.

  • Enable stealth mode: The final configuration option for your Mac’s firewall is stealth mode. This feature enhances your overall security by making it more difficult for hackers and malware to infiltrate your system. For instance, it ignores unexpected requests like ICMP (ping) and prevents your Mac from responding to probing requests. However, authorized apps can still receive incoming requests. This is particularly useful when your Mac is connected to external networks.

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When your Mac detects an attempt to connect to an app that is not included within the list of permitted apps (as mentioned in Step 3), an alert will appear, giving you the option to allow or deny the connection over the network or the internet. Similarly, if you try to open an unsigned app that is not listed in the firewall, you’ll be prompted with options to allow or deny connections for that app. Clicking “Allow” will sign the application and add it to the firewall list, while selecting “Deny” will add the program to the list and deny incoming connections for the app.

how to use a firewall and stealth mode on mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Using Stealth Mode on Your Mac

Stealth mode is a valuable feature that makes your Mac invisible to outside networks. While it may not be essential when you’re connected to your own private network at home, it becomes highly useful in public or shared networks like coffee shops, internet hotspots, or university Wi-Fi access points where hackers and criminals can target your Mac. To enable stealth mode on your Mac, follow these steps:

Step 1: Access the Firewall Settings

Go to System Preferences, click on “Security & Privacy,” and select Firewall.

how to use a firewall and stealth mode on mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Enable Stealth Mode

Make sure your Mac’s firewall is enabled. Click on “Firewall Options,” and then click the “Enable Stealth Mode” button. Confirm the change by clicking OK.

It’s important to note that with stealth mode enabled, troubleshooting network access issues may become more challenging. While it provides an additional layer of security on public networks, it can prevent your Mac from receiving or responding to ping requests and reject connection attempts from closed TCP or UDP networks. You won’t receive any notifications about these connection attempts, so be aware of your stealth mode setting to avoid unnecessary frustration when troubleshooting connectivity issues.

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Remember, protecting your Mac with a firewall and enabling stealth mode can greatly enhance your overall security while using various networks. Stay safe while enjoying the convenience of your Mac!

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OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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