Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mac OS X Open Source and Security

Previously I blogged about my regularly used Open Source applications on the Mac. Today I am dealing with some applications that deal with security on the Mac. In my career I wear two hats, one of Open Source advocate/developer/consultant and then also a security consultant hat.
I also have a keen interest in keeping my Mac secure when using it from day to day - thus the tools I am about to discuss deal with "personal" security (local firewall for example) as well as "network" security.

Lets get started.

  1. MacGPG (
    • The Free Software implementation of PGP. I specifically use the GPGMail plug-in for Apple to allow me to send and receive encrypted email as well as sign emails and verify email signatures.
  2. sshfs (
    • A FUSE pluggable filesystem for the Mac that allows it to mount drives on other Unix or Linux hosts using ssh. This might not be a specific security related app but it does allow for extra security when sharing across a network - the links are encrypted and safe from snooping.
  3. Waterroof (
    • A personal firewall manager that exposes the underlying, powerful, ipfw firewall of Mac OS X. There were a couple of scares with the Leopard firewall's default behavior when it first ship and it led me to look for more information on the topic. Waterroof allows a user to truly fine-tune the firewall. A handy wizard also allows novice users to set up a very secure default policy.
  4. MacPorts Apps (
    • Some applications are best served using macports. To install the following app download and install macports and then issue: "sudo port install appname"
    1. nmap (
      • nmap is the de-facto standard when it comes to port scanning. You can use nmap to learn a lot about hosts, networks and services.
    2. wireshark (
      • wireshark is a packet sniffer with a lot of advanced capabilities. Packet captures can be analyzed to a great level of detail. It also produces traffic flow and usage reports on the traffic that it captures. If you need find out what is going on on your network you need Wireshark.
Thats it for this installment. There are many more apps within MacPorts that I'm not covering here, as well as some legendary apps like KisMac. I will try to blog again soon about some more Mac OS X Open Source goodness. As always comments are welcome and if you know of any other great OSS security analysis tools on the Mac please let me know.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mac OS X Open Source Roundup

As we approach the end of the year, here is a list of really usefull Open Source utilities and applications that I use regularly on my Mac.
I run Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), but most of the applications should work on Tiger (10.4) as well.

  1. Freemind (
    • Indispensable mind-mapping application written in Java. I have been using Freemind for years on Linux, Windows and of course now on the Mac as well. Truly useful with some real advanced functions and scripting capabilities.
  2. Vienna (
    • An Open Source RSS feed reader. Vienna is a part of my daily routine in which I track a couple of hundred feeds. Once you get to know it you will love it even more - some clever keyboard shortcuts really create a lot of efficiency.
  3. Firefox (
    • Firefox is the standard web browser for millions of Windows, Linux and Mac users out there. I prefer Firefox as opposed to Camino on the Mac as I really depend on some plug-ins for my daily security and privacy needs (I'll blog more about this again soon).
  4. Adium (
    • Due to its massive multi-protocol nature (supports over 10 different IM providers) Adium was a no-brainer when it came to Instant Messaging on the Mac. I have never tried iChat or any alternatives mostly as Adium did such a stellar job out of the box. Growl integration makes it even more powerful - I like the ability to do specific actions when certain contacts come online. It also offers the ability to "bundle" accounts from multiple networks into one account for those contact who like myself are on various networks.
  5. Colloquy (
    • The gents behind Adium also recommend Colloquy for IRC (internet relay chat). My usage of IRC varies depending on project and job focus but I have started to learn the nuances of the program and have grown to love it. I'm not crazy about its default behavior but after a little bit of tweaking it really turned out to be a powerful tool.
  6. Quicksilver (
    • What can one say about Quicksilver? It has changed the way I interact with my computer and probably would be one of the functions I cant live without. The ability to "act without doing" as the developers call it creates the most amazing productivity gains. I am not a Quicksilver ninja yet but the limited ways that I use it in has made life so much easier... Thinking of an app? Three keystrokes and you're there.
There's still a plethora of other applications that I use on a less regular basis. I will blog about Open Source security software for the Mac in the next installment.