updated 06:30 pm EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Monitors outgoing connections, 'phoning home'
While almost all legitimate Mac applications make at least occasional connections to outside web servers for perfectly legitimate reasons (validating registrations, checking for updates and so on), some programs "phone home" for other reasons, often without the user's active knowledge. Metakine has updated its own outgoing-connection monitor program, Hands Off! to version 2, adding support for wildcard options along with small general improvements.
The program lets users construct rules that govern what the program should do if it detects an outgoing connection, usually opting to either block the connection or at least alert the user and wait for permission before allowing the outgoing connection. The new version's support of wildcards mean users can be more general about hostnames, file paths and application paths in creating the rules.
For example, a common use of programs like Hands Off! and Little Snitch is to block attempts by browsers or programs to fetch advertising. Blocking subdomains using a wildcard like "*ads*" might keep the site functional but stop any advertising from appearing. Version 2 also makes subdomain support clearer.
While testing a downloaded application, users may simply want to know when, how often and for what purpose a program might want to contact a remote server. Wildcard support in file paths can be used to test, for example, temporary files that often have randomly-generated file names, and wildcard support in application paths makes it easy to monitor multiple processes within an application.
The new version requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later. Hands Off! costs $50 for a new license, but registered users can update for just $10. A free trial is available and recommended by the developers before purchase.