Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


06:20 AM

Top Five Security Tools for Mac OS X

There are plenty of cool tools and options for securing the MacBook Pro

2:20 PM -- After waiting for nearly a month, my new Apple MacBook Pro arrived on Wednesday to replace my aging Apple PowerBook G4. My PowerBook served me well, but I can’t say I was sad to toss it aside as I went through the Applications folder on the PowerBook, noting all the things I'd need to install.

If you’ve not spent time with Mac OS X, you may not realize the abundance of security-related software available for it. Some are native applications built specifically for Mac OS X, while others originate from Unix-based (*nix) OSes like Linux and FreeBSD, which usually just require that they be compiled from source code (an easy task with some of the tools I mention below).

Here is my Top Five list of security tools for Mac OS X:

  1. FileVault: It's a built-in feature that provides AES-128 encryption for all the contents in your home directory. Along the same lines, Apple includes Secure Virtual Memory, which encrypts the swap space -- preventing recovery of sensitive information written to swap. While these are more features than applications, they are not enabled by default, and must be configured in the Security pane in System Preferences.

  2. KisMAC and iStumbler: If you do any wardriving, war walking (like Tim enjoys doing around the White House), or surveying wireless networks, these tools will come in handy. They have advanced features like GPS support for mapping, cracking wireless encryption, and detection of wireless networks that are not broadcasting their SSIDs.

  3. VPN client: Most companies have a VPN of some sort that requires a software client or configuration of the OSes' built-in VPN support. I personally use both the Cisco VPN Client and IPSecuritas. Mac OS X supports L2TP over IPSec and PPTP out of the box. IPSecuritas is an IPSec client that supports all the advanced options I needed to get connectivity to my Zyxel firewall at home.

  4. MacPorts: While MacPorts isn’t security-specific, it enables you to install lots of security-related open-source software like nmap and wireshark. It does require, though, that you have the Apple Xcode Tools and X11 installed to compile and use XWindows applications.

  5. VMware Fusion: I use VMware Server on a daily basis to test new security tools and analyze malware. While I could have used Parallels, which currently has a few more features than Fusion, I decided to stick with VMware because of backwards compatibility with virtual machines I've already pre-built for testing.

There are many other tools that deserve mentioning (like the built-in firewall ipfw and WaterRoof for configuring ipfw), but the five above are the top of my list for daily use.

If I missed one of your favorites, please tell me about it via the "Discuss" link below. It might just be something I’ve not heard of yet, and it could come in handy.

— John H. Sawyer is a security geek on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. He enjoys taking long war walks on the beach and riding pwnies. When he's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    User Rank: Moderator
    9/6/2018 | 1:36:02 AM
    Apple Customer Support
    I Have go through your article it seems so useful & informative.  I've been running Avast since last few months. I have absolutely no complaints about it. Get more information from this link: 


    COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
    Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
    WannaCry Has IoT in Its Crosshairs
    Ed Koehler, Distinguished Principal Security Engineer, Office of CTO, at Extreme Network,  9/25/2020
    Safeguarding Schools Against RDP-Based Ransomware
    James Lui, Ericom Group CTO, Americas,  9/28/2020
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    Special Report: Computing's New Normal
    This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
    Flash Poll
    How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
    How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
    The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
    XSS exists in the MobileFrontend extension for MediaWiki before 1.34.4 because section.line is mishandled during regex section line replacement from PageGateway. Using crafted HTML, an attacker can elicit an XSS attack via jQuery's parseHTML method, which can cause image callbacks to fire even witho...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
    An issue was discovered in the FileImporter extension for MediaWiki before 1.34.4. An attacker can import a file even when the target page is protected against "page creation" and the attacker should not be able to create it. This occurs because of a mishandled distinction between an uploa...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
    An issue was discovered in MediaWiki 1.34.x before 1.34.4. On Special:Contributions, the NS filter uses unescaped messages as keys in the option key for an HTMLForm specifier. This is vulnerable to a mild XSS if one of those messages is changed to include raw HTML.
    PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
    In MediaWiki before 1.31.10 and 1.32.x through 1.34.x before 1.34.4, Special:UserRights exposes the existence of hidden users.
    PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
    In MediaWiki before 1.31.10 and 1.32.x through 1.34.x before 1.34.4, XSS related to jQuery can occur. The attacker creates a message with [javascript:payload xss] and turns it into a jQuery object with mw.message().parse(). The expected result is that the jQuery object does not contain an <a> ...