Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stopping Programs from Phoning Home

An update for a program comes out and the next time you start it up, there's a message telling you about the update.

How'd they do that?

Well, pretty obviously, the program has used your internet connection to call back to the developers web site to check.

Now, that's all well and good. But what other information are they sending back? Are you comfortable knowing that the program has access to all the information on your hard drive and that it could be sending your address, what web sites you visited, etc.?

If not, there's a wonderful little program called Little Snitch that acts kind of like a reverse firewall. A standard firewall blocks packets from coming in; Little snitch stops packets going out. It's very easily customizable allowing you to specify which programs can get out.

And if you still want to check for updates to your programs periodically, you can go to sites like MacUpdate or else install AppFresh which will check your installed software for updates.

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