Color me somewhat jaded about email and interpersonal communications, but I’m a bit miffed that Taylor Swift hasn’t taken me up on my idea to help bring attention to the fact all Mac users are under attack. That’s right. We’re under attack. If it’s not Google advertisers tracking every webpage we view, it’s government spooks or Russian hackers attempting to see what’s on our Macs.
It’s a good thing the Mac’s built-in Firewall and logs are not easily accessible. You’d be afraid. Very afraid. So, if you know everyone out there wants to break into your Mac, then you know a little paranoia is the right attitude to have. How do you explain why Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg puts tape over the iSight camera on his Mac?
This week I found a nifty little Mac utility called Push Mic Control, a handier than status quo method to control your Mac’s built-in microphone. There’s not much to it, but it’s easier to use than the manual way and offers more options.
Choose a mode:
- Push to Talk
- Push to Mute
- Always Listening
- Always Muted
What’s not to like? Push Mic Control works in the Mac’s Menubar, the icon changes color to red when the mic is working. Mac power users have keyboard shortcuts to activate the different modes from the keyboard. Oh, and it works with FaceTime, Skype, whatever.
But does it warn you when someone has hacked your Mac and is watching you through the camera and listening to everything you say?
Alright, paranoid Mac user, here’s the old fashioned way to control the Mac’s microphone and the built-in iSight camera so nobody– absolutely nobody– can see you or hear you when you’re doing your nefarious deeds while your Mac looks on.
Hackers can’t hack physics. Yet.
A piece of masking tape over the iSight camera prevents hackers from looking at your face. What about the mic? Again, a little physics may help. Covering the Mac’s built-in microphone should reduce sound going into the mic but maybe not completely. So, simply grab some old iPhone earbuds that also include a microphone (everybody I know who has owned a few iPhones has a few of these lying around) and plug it into your Mac. Then, with a pair of scissors, cut the earbuds just below the microphone.
Yes, that will kill the earbuds, but also kill microphone access because that gets cut off when you plugged in the earbuds. Cheap paranoia solution, no?
Is it possible that a hacker who gains remote control of your Mac can alter your solution? Possible, but not probable. Your Mac can’t remove the tape by itself, and it can’t remove the microphone blocking earbuds, either.
Ipso facto, and Voila! Another way to sooth your paranoid gene and add extra control over both camera and mic. And cheap.