Jul 22, 2020 If you’d like a little extra peace of mind, consider installing Micro Snitch from Objective Development, makers of LaunchBar and the famous Little Snitch network monitoring utility. Micro Snitch costs $3.99 either directly from Objective Development or in the Mac App Store, and Objective Development makes a free trial available. Products Little Snitch Micro Snitch LaunchBar Internet Access Policy Viewer More Products Blog Shop Support Jobs. Help for Little Snitch. Incompatibility of Little Snitch 5 with other software on Big Sur 11.0.1 and 11.1. The Network Extension framework, which Little Snitch and other firewalls are now required to use, is pretty new and various.
The Network Extension framework, which Little Snitch and other firewalls are now required to use, is pretty new and various software developers were not yet able to test the compatibility of their products. Although the Network Extension framework is designed to allow the coexistence of multiple filters, there may be unexpected interactions. Here is a list of known incompatibilities as of Little Snitch 5.0.2 and macOS Big Sur 11.0.1. The situation improved on 11.1, but some incompatibilities still exist.
Adguard: Programs filtered by Adguard may hang when they try to access the Internet.
Proxifier: Safari and ssh may fail with an error. We are working together with the developers of Proxifier to track this down.
Various ad blockers: These may defeat the purpose of Little Snitch because they catch Internet traffic and reinject it from their own process. Little Snitch therefore does not see the originating process.
VyprVPN and possibly other VPN services: A kernel panic may occur. Age of war 2gaming potatoes.
Wine, Plex, macports: A kernel panic may occur.
ESET Cyber Security
- Possibly others, please report…
Our reporting on Apple’s warning against closing a MacBook with a webcam cover installed (see “Don’t Close Your MacBook with a Webcam Cover Attached,” 14 July 2020) sparked an interesting TidBITS Talk discussion about Mac webcam security.
Little Micro Snitch Box
In theory, malware can’t activate your Mac’s webcam without your knowledge, because the indicator light is wired in series to the webcam. That means the webcam cannot receive power without turning on the light. An earlier webcam implementation in pre-2008 Apple laptops was vulnerable to a firmware exploit, but a lengthy treatise by John Gruber of Daring Fireball quotes an unnamed Apple engineer as saying that this exploit is now impossible, because the connection is direct. No malware can bypass basic electrical connections.
Or so we think. The problem with any sort of “unbreakable” security scheme is that there are a lot of bad guys out there, and security breaches have real monetary value to organized crime and government surveillance agencies. One TidBITS Talk reader pointed out that a clever attacker could use the webcam to take quick still images, flashing the indicator light so quickly that you might not even notice it.
Even if Apple’s webcam security is foolproof, what about third-party webcams? Built-in Mac webcams aren’t very high-quality (see “The 2020 MacBook Air’s FaceTime HD Camera Is Still Lousy,” 8 April 2020), so many people who rely on videoconferencing (a number that has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic) have a third-party camera attached.
The reality is that you probably don’t have much to fear from your webcam, because even years ago it would have taken a targeted attack to access it. But there’s something about having an electronic eye pointed at you all day long that can make you feel like you’re being watched…
Micro Snitch to the Rescue
If you’d like a little extra peace of mind, consider installing Micro Snitch from Objective Development, makers of LaunchBar and the famous Little Snitch network monitoring utility. Micro Snitch costs $3.99 either directly from Objective Development or in the Mac App Store, and Objective Development makes a free trial available.
Micro Snitch lives in your Mac’s menu bar. Whenever an app accesses your webcam or microphone, a large, square icon of a hat and glasses appears in the center of your screen and then moves to the lower-right corner. You also receive a notification. The hat and glasses icon doesn’t go away until you close it or the activity stops.
Afraid that you somehow missed the little spy guy? Choose Open Activity Log from Micro Snitch’s menu bar icon to see a log of every time either the camera or the microphone has been accessed.
Little Micro Snitch Book
The only downside I can find is that Micro Snitch can’t monitor some of the odd software devices I have installed, like Soundflower (which lets me reroute audio on my Mac) and the EpocCam driver that promised to let me use my iPhone as a webcam—I was planning a review, but recent security changes to Zoom and Skype prevented it from working. I recommend being careful about installing such drivers, and I’ve now uninstalled EpocCam. Soundflower, on the other hand, is now open source.
Little Snitch Vs Micro Snitch
If your webcam causes you any anxiety, $3.99 for Micro Snitch is a small investment for additional peace of mind. Give it a try, and let us know if it reveals any unexpected behavior on your Mac!