Internet Access on Changing Networks

How many networks are you on each week? If you are like me, it’s a bunch – home, work, friend/parent’s house, coffee shop(s), courthouse, opposing counsel’s office, mediator, etc.

When working away from the office (or home) network speeds greatly vary. With Dropbox and OneDrive, any changes to local files need to use the internet to update the copies in the cloud. In addition to these services, there are many other programs that are accessing the internet. This constant traffic can substantially reduce the bandwidth that I have available to get work done.

Little Snitch is a network monitor that allows you to block the programs that you choose from accessing the internet. Initially, there are a lot of pops up asking you whether specific programs can access the internet. Many of the programs you will recognize: Firefox, Outlook, 1Password,… Other are totally unknown: AssetCacheLocatorService, AddressBookSourceSync, assistantd, and automount (and those are just some of the “a”s). After a day or two, 95% of the programs that will try to access the internet have done so – and they have either been allowed or rejected.  Initially, the program is annoying – but the annoyance ends quickly. Honestly, I’m not sure how useful this feature is – as long as your not infected by malware or some other nefarious program – as I have other anti-virus / internet security programs.

What I have found to be quite useful is the profile switching that allows you to block certain programs when based on the network you are using. For instance, if I’m in a coffee shop, I can block all internet access except for Outlook and Firefox. That means that no bandwidth is taken up by Dropbox, OneDrive, various Apple programs, etc. Better yet, you can set up Little Snitch’s automatic network profile switching to do this for you when you join a known network. If you join an unknown network, you will be asked which profile you want to use for that  network.

A step by step setup guide can be found here.

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