Usually, your mac firewall is off by default. But isn’t it unsafe?
You don’t have to panic as it doesn’t mean that your computer is not secure. So, how significant is a firewall, and what does it do?
A firewall is merely used to allow you to block traffic to some particular programs, meaning that it’s useful only when there’re programs on your device that you’re looking to limit the amount of information to.
So, do you need a firewall?
Unfortunately, for several years now, firewalls have been poorly understood, knowledgeable people not excluded. Moreover, with the Mac malware’s upsurge, much questionable advice has been circulating with some related to firewalls.
Yes, many people will say to you that unlike Android, Apple’s Mac cannot but be hacked. But that’s not true. Ali Qamar, the editor behind Privacy Savvy, a blog dedicated to informing about best digital privacy practices, defeat censorship, unblock restricted content, and secure your internet-connected devices had the following to say about it:
“No computer in this age is 100% safe. It is untrue (and ignorant) to say that Apple Mac can not be infected with malware or be hacked. One little-known computer hacking fact is that back in 1982, the first virus that ever got created was built to target Apple II computers.”
Most folks recommend firewalls to help avoid malware, prevent spam, block hackers, and several other things. However, some recommendations have validity, while others don’t. But how will you know the difference?
Understanding what a firewall is
To understand whether your Mac needs a firewall, you must first examine what exactly a firewall is. At a glance, a firewall’s primary function is to help improve your computer’s security bu merely blocking unsolicited as well as malicious connection attempts.
On your Mac, there’re chances that your device is behind a firewall that’s part of the router. Therefore, having your firewall disabled makes it very easy to set up several connections with Apple devices. However, if you usually hop onto some untrusted networks using a laptop, you should turn on the firewall.
Setting up Mac Firewall
There’s no denying that a firewall is of great significance and that it’s part of the security strategy. When it comes to Mac, there’re two main firewall types; Application Layer Firewall (ALF) and Packet Filter (PF) Firewall.
So, how do you about setting them on your Mac?
Application Layer Firewall (ALF)
This is the firewall component that allows or denies access for a given app to establish communication over a network regardless of the port that the traffic can be addressed to. For instance, you could block or allow access to traffic sent to Mail.
Therefore, it means that it’s not entirely based on the ports that are being used. The inbuilt macOS firewall is the perfect example that offers this type of firewall. It’s also straightforward and intuitive by design as it allows you to specify the app you want to block or allow incoming connections.
Now, how do you turn it on your Mac?
In that case, all you need is to open your System Preferences, then proceed to Security & Privacy, and then to Firewall (System Preferences> Security & Privacy> Firewall).
You need to click on the lock icon at your window lower-left; you’ll be required to enter the administrator password, and then proceed to click on Unlock.
By now, your Window should be saying Firewall: On, but if it doesn’t, then you need to click on the Turn on Firewall button to get it started. Ensure that the green circle is lighted up, meaning that your Mac will now be allowing incoming traffic for the established connections, enabled services, and signed software.
Later, you can opt to turn your Mac’s firewall off by simply clicking on the corresponding button.
Packet Filter (PF) Firewall
It’s a component of the firewall that usually operates deep in your device’s operating system kernel. The primary function of the PF is filtering the network packets, whereby it matches the properties of the individual packets against the criteria in the ruleset.
Therefore, it means that with the PF firewall, you’ll be able to control the network traffic based on almost any connection type.
Unlike ALF, which is easy as well as intuitive to use, the PF firewall requires thorough knowledge to set up, especially logic, syntax, and network configuration knowledge.
Enabling and configuring your Mac firewall
It’s clear that the inbuilt firewall provides the ability for you to monitor as well as block incoming connections. Besides, you can as well monitor outgoing connections.
Therefore, if you want to configure or enable your Mac’s inbuilt firewall, you’re free to do so.
But when might you want to enable it?
Most folks could be wondering whether they may never want to make use of a firewall. But a firewall can help you, especially when you’re running some potentially vulnerable software that you won’t like to get accessed on the internet.
For instance, if you’ve installed an app that you entirely access on your computer, you can prevent third parties from contacting your server software by simply enabling the firewall. Therefore, unless you allow an exception for such server software, all the incoming connections from outside the computer will be actively blocked.
The downsides of firewalls
A Windows PC with a Windows firewall, by default, sometimes causes problems. For instance, running a full-screen application, the firewall dialog always will pop up behind the Window.
Also, any local app that will run on the computer can punch holes in the firewall; it’s designed to assist the apps requiring incoming connections work without the additional configuration.
Nevertheless, a firewall is not that necessary on the typical Mac desktop. It could result in more hassle when setting up specific network services. However, if you’re more comfortable having it on, you’re always free to set it on!