In a previous post, I talked about how to use Little Snitch to monitor internet connections from your applications to ensure that none of your private information is being sent out without your knowledge.
I wanted to mention another application that works similarly to Little Snitch and that’s Hands Off!. Hands Off! prevents applications from sending data without your consent, as well as manages disk access so questionable programs cannot obtain confidential information.
The Rules Windows
The Rules window lists all rules that Hands Off! has created, displaying those programs whose Internet access you have allowed as well as those programs whose Internet access you have denied. You can quickly display this window by clicking the Hands Off! menulet on the menu bar and choosing Configure Rules. To disable Hands Off!, choose Disable Rules from the menuet.
The Rules window is quite configurable. Click on any column heading to sort by that column in ascending or descending order. Next to the Search box is a drop-down list, allowing you to filter the Rules window by System Processes, GUI Processes, Temporary Rules, Global Rules, Invalid Rules, All Rules and User-Defined Rules (rules that are created as a result of your decision when an app asks for permission). You can also disable all rules from this window as well as access the Preferences pane.
To add a new rule, click the + (plus) symbol and then enter the required information. You can edit any existing rule by double-clicking on it and then choosing Allow, Deny or Ask both Network Usage and File Writing.
Asking for Permission
At first, it may seem that you are being bomarded by Hands Off! dialog boxes asking for permission to access the network and/or write to files (usually .plist files). If you trust the program, choose Always. This ensures that Hands Off! will not ask you about that specific application again. Other options include just once, until you quit the application or until you reboot your machine.
The Hands Off! Permission dialog also has 4 additional options that you can choose from:
- Grant access to any domain’s resolving
- Grant access to any domain’s resolving and outgoing connections
- Grant access only to the domain in question
- Grant access to the domain in question and allow outgoing connections
Any decisions that you make are then saved to your Rules.
Hands Off! Preferences
From the Notifications area of the Preferences pane, you can choose to automatically allow app access to the network, automatically deny access or ask you each time. The same options are available for File Writing. To fully take advantage of Hands Off!, you might wish to consider configuring these settings to Ask.
From the Preferences dialog box, you can also:
- Monitor system process network connections
- Monitor background process network connections
- Enable Network Monitor
- Show Network Activity in menu bar
- Show System process network connections
- And more…
I’ve been using Hands Off! on my laptop for awhile now and find it to be a powerful little application with an extremely user-friendly interface. If you wish to monitor your computer’s outgoing connections, you can’t go wrong with Hands Off! You can download a trial version from their Website at http://www.oneperiodic.com/products/handsoff/ to test it out for 30 days. The purchase price the full-blown version of Hands Off! is $49.95.
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