Even though one of the biggest selling points of Macs and OS X a few years ago was inability to become infected with viruses, this is something that’s not true today. Of course, OS X users are much safer than any Windows user, simply because of a software architecture. You surely can’t become infected with a virus simply by browsing the web. However you should be aware of spyware and other types of malware which are usually hidden inside an application that you download and install on your Mac. A spyware is usually bundled with a software because it needs your password in order to be installed on your system, and that’s the best way to sneak into OS X. This is why there are some antiviruses for OS X, but in most cases, they are simply not that useful. You can use some other tools in order to search your Mac for any type of malware and remove it.
In this article we are going to review an application which scans network connections from and out of your computer, so you can see if there’s some spyware installed. It is called Private Eye, and is made by a developer company Radio Silence. It could be downloaded and used free of charge.
Private Eye can be run on OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. It is very simple and intuitive to use, so practically everyone will be comfortable using it. Once you open it, Private Eye will begin scanning your network connection for any activity and present you with a list of applications and individual connections. As you can see, this app will show only currently active connections, and it won’t run in the background. You can open it and keep it on your desktop for a while, so you can have a comprehensive list of all achieved network connections, in real-time.
Private Eye is able to show you several pieces of information. It will show a time when a certain connection was achieved, as well as by which application that connection happened. It will also show you one other column, and those are going to be IP addresses or hostnames of the other end of the connection. There’s also going to be an arrow pointing if that connection is outgoing or incoming.
Once again, it is important to note that Private Eye works only in real-time, so you can’t see any history, but only currently active applications and networks. Still, this can be a very valuable tool to inspect whether some spyware is creating its own connection to some outgoing hostname, so you can find that application and delete it. This means that Private Eye can’t be used to close that network, or to delete an application. It is there simply to show you a list of connections, and nothing else. This is a bit disappointing, since I naturally believed that I won’t be so limited with this application and that I won’t have to do the rest of a job manually.
In general, this application can be useful in many situations. It is able to accurately scan all inbound and outgoing connections, and that’s where its real value is. Still, it is disappointing that you can’t use Private Eye to do anything about those connections, so it is quite limited.