Little Snitch

Little Snitch

Little Snitch
celebrates its 10th anniversary!

80 years ago there were no computers.
50 years ago there was no Internet.
25 years ago there was no World Wide Web.
10 years ago there was no Little Snitch. Nearly.

With the invention of the World Wide Web the triumph of the Internet began. All of a sudden the Internet was no longer only interesting for military or academic applications, but was able to make its entry into commercial and especially private application areas. And at the turn to the 21st century, the Internet finally reached the mainstream.

The private computer usage more and more shifted into the networked, public space. Things that happened exclusively within one’s own four walls before, increasingly moved to the outside, into the public. Staying with the image of a house - the windows and doors of our computer house stood open more often and for longer, and it became easier to get in, and even more easy to get out and take things away outside. And for us users it became increasingly difficult to stay on top of who was entering or leaving our house.

While in the beginning of computing one could more or less assume that a program would run only if it was explicitly, deliberately and intentionally started by us, this changed with the spreading of multitasking operating systems, where often dozens of processes were able to carry out their work in the background, without any obvious vocal expression.

It soon became clear that besides invited guests a continuously growing number of unknown or sometimes even unwanted housemates presented themselves.

The permanently available network access increasingly inspired the creativity of software developers to use this back channel and the resulting possibilities for their purposes. But this also introduced new potential threats for the security of our data.

In early 2002 we at Objective Development also began to notice this growing trend.

And we got curious
  • Why does my router’s network LED blink on every occasion, although I’m not actively working on my computer?
  • Is it really necessary, that programs periodically connect to the vendor’s server for software update checks, which yields a detailed statistics about when and how often I use their program?
  • Is it really in my interest that programs have the ability, without being asked, to send arbitrary, often even personal or confidential information from my computer to unknown third parties in the Internet?

So we wanted to know if there were some chatterboxes among our partly unknown housemates, who carried out more from within our four walls than we would like. And we wanted to be able, if the worst comes to the worst, to hinder them on that. The idea for Little Snitch was born.

At the early stages of the development we had to struggle with numerous problems. The operating system simply didn’t provide a suitable interface for developers to implement such a service. But since we’ve already gained quite some expertise in kernel programming from previous projects, we finally managed to implement the desired functionality even without these interfaces. From the very beginning reliability and performance had the highest priority, since we didn’t want to tolerate any impairment of the system’s stability or data throughput. After a year of development and intensive internal usage Little Snitch version 1.0 finally came into the computing world in January 2003.

Since then the little offspring flourished magnificently and became a synonym for the deliberate, attentive and self-determined protection of private data. And the more popular and widespread Little Snitch became over the years, the more often cases became public, where programs deliberately or simply carelessly ignored the protection of personal data, such as a social media program that sent the entire address book without the user’s knowledge to the vendor’s servers. Little Snitch also became famous for uncovering numerous trojans and other malware. Right up to those malicious programs, who took just the mere presence of Little Snitch as a reason to refrain from their malicious performance.

Beyond that Little Snitch raised an awareness at software developers that their users are having an active interest on a responsible handling of personal data and are taking a critical look at the networking behavior of their products.

Happy Birthday, Little Snitch!
Let’s keep protecting our privacy!
Little Snitch 1
App Icon Draft
Little Snitch 1
Preference Pane
Little Snitch 1
Connection Alert
Little Snitch 1 & 2
App Icon
Little Snitch 2
Configuration
Little Snitch 2
Connection Alert
Little Snitch 2
Network Monitor