When traveling you’re connecting to all sorts of wireless networks whose security you haven’t got a clue about. Typically speaking, most Macs are configured well by default to handle most networks of varying hazard, but you can enhance your protection with a simple settings fix.
What Is Mac Stealth Mode?
This is a very basic explanation that leaves out the details but clarifies the fundamentals. Whenever a device, say your Macbook, connects to a network it gets a number of standard requests so long as its connected. Imagine a bunch of blind people in a large auditorium, one yells “hello”, and then another say “hi” back. That’s sort of how machines create a map of the other devices (plus shared folders) on the network, using these pings known as echo requests. When you enable stealth mode, your laptop simply ignores all of these requests, like staying silent in the auditorium.
How To Enable Stealth Mode
It’s extremely easy to enable or disable Stealth Mode. On Mac OS X notebooks, head over to System Preference > Security & Privacy > click the Firewall tab. From that window, you’ll need to click the small lock icon in the lower left corner, then authenticate to your machine (a little popup will appear asking you for your Macbook username and password). Once that’s done, click Enable Stealth Mode > click OK and you’re good to go.
Why Isn’t Stealth Mode Enabled By Default?
There isn’t anything inherently dangerous about by leaving your Macbook with Stealth Mode off, which is the default setting. The reason Apple’s engineers leave it that way is because without it, you can’t use Airdrop or easily share files on a network. It also makes other network diagnostics less reliable and such a setup wouldn’t work well in an office network environment.
Stealth Mode doesn’t make your Macbook completely invisible on a network since it still communicates with the Internet so you can browse cute cat photos. (Even without the Internet your Macbook will communicate on any network its on to a degree.) Yet it does enhance your protection across networks you know little to nothing about and make the guy sitting next to you an much more enticing target.