Free Mac Security Tool Stops Apps from Snooping on You

Senior Writer
Updated

Mac users just got another strong weapon in the war to secure their computers, and it's free, too. Formerly known as Little Flocker, the tool now called F-Secure XFENCE monitors your files, making sure applications don't overstep their boundaries by peeping on your connections, accessing your webcam or installing other programs.

XFENCE, available now in beta as a free download here, begins in its learning mode, monitoring what you do and how your system operates on a typical day. Once that's done, it creates rules based on that activity, and if anything abnormal happens, it will prompt you for your approval.

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While some Mac antivirus programs have similar abilities, using this dedicated and focused tool would be a solid way for keeping your Mac clean, clear and under control.

As F-Secure researcher Andy Patel notes in the post announcing this tool, XFENCE can be a little difficult to understand. Specifically, "enough knowledge of what wanted and unwanted behavior looks like" can be crucial to understanding the tool.

Therefore, you'll want to use it in Simple mode, which F-Secure says is novice-friendly. Not to be total hipsters, but we used the tool back when it was called Little Flocker, and found its alerts a little too confusing outside of Simple mode.

The tool changed its name from Little Flocker to XFENCE after F-Secure bought it from Mac security expert Jonathan Zdziarski. Zdziarski recently accepted a position with Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture team, so it's nice to see his well-regarded work live on.

Also, it used to cost money to get Little Flocker, but F-Secure's decision to make it a free download should help those who don't have a security budget.