How to use a firewall and stealth mode on a Mac

While the general consensus regarding whether a Mac is more secure than Windows leans toward Apple’s system, it doesn’t mean a Mac is still unable to be affected by hackers and malware; it’s still vulnerable. When it comes to security, the Mac includes a few built-in features that go a long way in providing a secure user experience. We take a look at how to use some of these, namely the firewall and stealth mode on a Mac.

How to use a firewall

Before we explain the steps in using a firewall on a Mac, it’s important to understand the actual purpose behind a firewall. Firewalls protect the system from an outside threat actor or a harmful connection gaining access to your Mac when you’re connected to the internet or to a given network. With this in mind, it doesn’t necessarily work in the same way traditional antivirus software operates, but that’s not to say it’s a redundant feature.

Macs can always be targeted in order for someone to infiltrate your system when utilizing a network that’s not trusted or unknown. That being said, let’s take a look at the steps you can take for using a firewall on a Mac.

Step 1: Select the Apple logo on the top left of your Mac screen and open System Preferences, choose Security & Privacy, and click the Firewall tab.

The Mac's Firewall window located through Security & Privacy.

Step 2: You’ll need to click the lock button located at the bottom-left corner. Enter your username and password (providing you’re an administrator).

Step 3: Select the Turn on Firewall button.

If you know what you’re doing and require more specific control over the firewall, select the Firewall Options button. Here, you’ll have access to the following (for macOS Monterey):

Allow only specified apps and services to connect: Click the Add (or “+” sign for earlier versions of macOS) button, and choose the app or service you wish to include. With each application you add, you have the ability to either allow or block incoming connections.

Allow only essential apps and services to connect: Choose the Block All Incoming Connections box.

Automatically allow built-in software to receive incoming connections: This option is enabled by default and allows default Apple apps integrated into the Mac to receive…