Snow Leopard: Enabling the Built-in Firewall

Mac OS X 10.6 has several built-in security features including its own firewall to help protect you from network and Internet-based attacks. Unfortunately, the firewall is disabled by default -- and even if you enabled it in Leopard, upgrading to Snow Leopard disables it again. Turning Snow Leopard's firewall on, however, only takes a couple of steps.

To enable Snow Leopard's firewall, do this:

  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
  • Click the Security Preference Pane.
  • Click the Firewall tab.
  • Click Start to turn your firewall on. If the button says Stop, your firewall is already running.

Enabling Snow Leopard's firewall.

Once your Mac's firewall is running, it's going to take a lot more effort for unauthorized users to get at your files. Think of it like a protective wall that helps keep Internet bad guys at bay.

You can also make your Mac invisible to other computers on the Internet. Here's how:

  • While you are still in the Security Preference Pane's Firewall tab, click Advanced.
  • Check Enable Stealth Mode.
  • Click OK.

Stealth Mode is like an Internet cloaking device for your Mac.

Protecting your Mac from unwanted hacking attempts is what firewall are good at, but they can't keep you safe from virus threats. Viruses aren't a big threat for Mac users now, but many business still require Mac using employees to install and use virus protection software, so be sure to check with your IT department to see if they have any special requirements.