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  1. #1

    macgig's Avatar
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    firewalls not useful on macs? should I turn it off?
    read this quote below. does this mean the firewall is not doing anything so having it on is pointless? should I disable it? I've used macs for 27 years, this is the first time I've heard this. any thoughts on this are appreciated.


    “In reality, firewalls aren't that useful for typical Mac users.

    A personal computer firewall blocks incoming data and commands. But incoming data and commands need something running on your computer that is listening and waiting to receive them. Old Windows computers had a variety of system processes that listened for incoming information and did things with them. When malicious information was sent to these computers, bad things could happen.
    But Macs don't have these sorts of processes that listen for general data or commands. They really aren't something that you find on modern computers. ”

    Excerpt From: Gary Rosenzweig. “The Practical Guide To Mac Security.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/ToHihb.l

  2. #2

    Slydude's Avatar
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    If I am understanding that quote correctly it is at best very misleading. There are numerous instances where Macs listen for data / commands. It's possible, for example, to run software on a Mac which behaves as an actual physical Ham radio. In order to do that the Mac has to listen for certain kinds of incoming data. Any internet activity is also based on listening for incoming data as well. There are I'm sure numerous other examples including scripts that run under certain circumstances based up data received.

    I'd say that the biggest reason many Mac users have the firewall off on their computers is that most modern routers have built-in firewalls that perform the kinds of functions the author seems to be discussing. It's probably worth turning the firewall on in places such as public wi-fi spots where you aren't sure whether a firewall is present/activated.
    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  3. #3

    macgig's Avatar
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    I have the router wifi on also. I'll probably leave the mac firewall on, but I was confused about the mac firewall after seeing this. I've always used the mac firewall assuming it was protecting me

  4. #4

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    And Apple set the default for firewall as off but you have that option macgig.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  5. #5

    Randy B. Singer's Avatar
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    There are lots of misconceptions about firewalls. Many users think that a firewall protects them from viruses/malware and malicious Web sites. They don't do anything like that. The only thing that a firewall protects you from is people trying to access your computer remotely. That is "crackers."

    I would say that if you use your Mac for business purposes, especially in an area where you are close to other businesses (i.e. a non-residential neighborhood) it would simply be a sound business practice to have a firewall enabled. However, if you are a home user I don't see the need. (Note that, as folks have said previously in this thread, in most cases these days your router already has a hardware firewall built-in. It's probably also on by default. This being the case, there is no advantage to turning on Apple's built-in software firewall. Two firewalls are not better than one, and a software firewall has to impose some sort of overhead and slow your computer down to some extent.)

    Of course, it *is* very important that you have a password set for your wireless network.

    Crackers are, by and large, looking for Windows machines, and well-known Windows vulnerabilities to exploit. A Mac without File Sharing turned on is not something that they are interested in, and they may not be able to break into it anyway.

    I've been in touch with tens of thousands of Macintosh users over the course of a couple of decades. Yet I've never heard first-hand of a single Mac user who has lost data to a cracker.

    (Note that some commercial firewall programs for the Macintosh gratuitously report a bunch of break-in attempts that they have foiled. In reality, just about all of those "blocked break-in attempts" are actually innocuous things like your own ISP checking to see that you aren't running a server in violation of your agreement with them, or an application phoning home to see if there is an update.)

    To verify your router and firewall efficiency, you can use Shields UP on the GRC website: an excellent resource.
    https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?rh1dkyd2
    (Click on the big orange button in the middle of the page.)
    Randy B. Singer
    Co-author of The Macintosh Bible (4th, 5th, and 6th editions)
    Mac OS X Routine Maintenance • http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html

  6. #6

    Randy B. Singer's Avatar
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    If the Shields UP link that I gave in the previous post doesn't work, try this one:

    https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2
    Randy B. Singer
    Co-author of The Macintosh Bible (4th, 5th, and 6th editions)
    Mac OS X Routine Maintenance • http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html

  7. #7

    macgig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy B. Singer View Post
    There are lots of misconceptions about firewalls. Many users think that a firewall protects them from viruses/malware and malicious Web sites. They don't do anything like that. The only thing that a firewall protects you from is people trying to access your computer remotely. That is "crackers.")

    so It looks like my firewall is useful and does something to protect me. so in that case I will leave it on like I've done for years.

  8. #8

    chscag's Avatar
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    If it gives you a sense of safety, leave the firewall on. I personally have mine off at home as my router acts as a hardware firewall to protect me. When away from home accessing the internet at places like Starbucks, you not only should use your firewall but you should also be using a VPN.

  9. #9


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    Excuse me what? Whoever told you that, I would recommend avoiding that person's opinion on security. I mean sure, it can be turned off and your Mac might not have any issues, however, it is strongly advised to have it on. Especially, if your router does not have a strong firewall on its own as well. In general, it is a good solid line of defense, even in rare cases that it is useful, it doesn't hurt to have it.

  10. #10

  11. #11

    McBie's Avatar
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    Hmmmmmmm.......

    for people who completely trust their WiFi router firewall at home and have the built-in firewall off, here is the million dollar question:
    " How do you know if that firewall is configured correctly ? "

    Too many times have I seen firewalls with a bad ruleset, basically providing no protection at all. But hey .... the firewall was ON.
    If you switch off The firewall at home, but you turn it on @ Starbucks , why the hassle?
    Simply have it on all the time and not worry.

    my 2 cents.

    Cheers ... McBie
    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

  12. #12


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    To add to the configuration issue. Generally, your average user will not even know that firewall exists, those who do are already delving slightly deeper into technological knowledge. But not many people mess with the default configurations. If you do, make sure you read and thoroughly analyze how and what works in firewalls, opening ports, connections and everything related to them is a massive security issue.

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