I own a 10.6 Macbook Pro with which I have to use a public IP (that does not change) frequently. I'm also required to idle at various IRC channels. As part of security, I use pretty strong passwords, have my firewall up and I do regular updates. I use the Google Chrome browser (again updated) for online browsing. I have file sharing turned off.

  1. Are there any more suggestions you'd make to keep my machine more secure?
  2. Are there any ways to detect if I have keyloggers installed on my machine?
  3. Any anti-viruses that you would recommend?
  4. I use colloquy to connect to IRC channels, is there any way I could mask my public IP from people who query it?
  • 4
    FYI: Macs don't have viruses. Proof of concepts exist (not the same as Windows) but nothing that is of any concern in a real life scenario. To detect key loggers, fire up Activity monitor and look at the running processes. If anything looks suspicious, Google it and get some more info. Chances are slim that anyone has managed to install one on your box, unless you make it a point to piss off LulzSec.
    – user10355
    Feb 18, 2012 at 3:59
  • I used the term "AV" as you hear the term "AV vendors", not "anti-malware" vendors. The information you provided regarding Macs not having viruses/malware, is obsolete I'm afraid.
    – user3608
    Feb 18, 2012 at 4:07
  • 1
    Macs are vulnerable to malware, requiring a user to install an "evil" payload but are highly resistant to viruses.
    – jaberg
    Feb 18, 2012 at 4:12
  • 1
    @eQuiNoX__ Obsolete? Hardly. Macs don't have a virus threat. Period. Malware, yes, some exist, but you can count them all on one hand. And they do nothing more than trick the user into shelling out some cash by buying some product they don't need. The install process is also quite user-intensive, forcing the user to click through a number of windows (just like installing any other app). Common sense and avoiding the installation of unknown material is SOP for any computer user, Mac, Unix, or Windows. The threat is nowhere near the scale of Windows. Not even close.
    – user10355
    Feb 18, 2012 at 8:53

2 Answers 2

  1. Turn on FileVault, don't run suspicious applications, don't use public networks too much, etc. I would also suggest you have a look at Little Snitch or HandsOff. These are applications that detect all incoming and outgoing network connections and allow you to block them. Great apps to see what processes are communicating to what servers, and if you see anything suspicious, you can deny the connection.

  2. For Keyloggers I suggest you have a look at this site. It has some useful recommendations.

  3. I don't actually recommend any antivirus for mac. Macs are pretty virus-free: I'd say you are pretty much completely safe if no one hates you, and if somebody does they aren't going to infect your computer with a virus; they'll attempt to hack you, so anti-viruses seem pretty useless on Macs.

  4. As far as I know, Colloquy should automatically mask your IP. I'm not completely sure about this, and I suggest you have a look at websites that talk about IRC security, such as this one. The final option, I'd say, would be to use a proxy.

Last, if you would like a complete security guide to Mac OS definitely have a look at this manual by Apple. It has pretty much all the security options you might encounter on Mac OS X. It's quite long, but a few chapters (4, 5, 8, 9, etc) might prove useful to you.

Hope it helps!


  • +1 for little snitch and using a proxy. You could also just ssh to IRC sessions running on a VM in the cloud. Re-image the cloud/VPS VM periodically.
    – hotpaw2
    Feb 18, 2012 at 6:59
  • Just to clarify, Little Snitch does not examine inbound connections, only outbound (you rely on the built-in OS X firewall for this which is usually good enough - depending on how you have it configured). If you do want to do both with a GUI tool, take a look at Hands Off! which provides this in addition to DNS and file system filtering. Despite the advice above, if you did want to use Antivirus, you could do a lot worse that Sophos Antivirus for Mac (although I have heard it doesn't play nicely if you have Filevault enabled).
    – binarybob
    Feb 18, 2012 at 8:33
  • HandsOff not only controls all network traffic, but also allows to control and block where programs write to.
    – gentmatt
    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:42
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    The problem with firewalls isn't really their robustness these days, it's the user behind it (how it's configured, used, etc.). Anyone not familiar with TCP/IP stacks, network protocols, best practices, etc. will risk circumventing their entire defense system by allowing the wrong thing in or out. When presented with a pop up, most people just click yes if it's asking them to allow something they're unfamiliar with. I think knowledge and education is the best place to start when trying to roll out any kind of security strategy. Having 8 dead bolts doesn't work if you don't lock any of them.
    – user10355
    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:58

Do not log into an administrator account on your Mac. Create a user account with limited privileges and use that for IRC and browsing. Turn Bluetooth off when not using it, and consider not using it at all in public.

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