Mystery of the unmovable mail (and how to sync iOS email folders across all your devices)

If you’re using email on your iOS devices it’s likely you’ve encountered the following scenario: You’re going through your inbox, try to delete an email when the following message appears, “Unable to Move Message -> The message could not be moved to the mailbox Trash.”

cantmove

Moving to your Mac, you discover you can delete the message without a hitch and that the message you delete from your Mac also disappears from your iOS device. But none of your iOS devices will let you delete the file.

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How to use a VPN to keep your network data safe

We’ve spent the last two weeks looking at applications you can use to protect your computer from unauthorized access: Apple’s built-in firewall for incoming access and Little Snitch for monitoring both inbound and outbound network access. But how do you keep people from looking at your network traffic while you’re on public Wi-Fi networks, such as those provided by your ISP, your favorite coffee shop, or the local library?

When you’re on public (read that untrusted) networks it’s possible for someone on the same network to capture and unwrap your network traffic and essentially ”listen” to your network conversations. This could potentially expose data you’re sending and receiving if your network data isn’t encrypted in some fashion.

When you connect to sites such as Amazon.com or your web banking service your network traffic is usually encrypted to keep your data safe, but there are many instances when sites you’re connecting to may be allowing that data to travel from your computer to their servers in the clear. On untrusted public networks this means it’s possible for nefarious individuals using packet sniffing software, such as Wireshark, to look at your private data. To avoid this kind of exposure on public networks it’s wise to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep your data safe.

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Little Snitch keeps an eye on your Mac's Internet connections

After last week’s column on Apple’s built-in firewall, Frank Lowney asked the following question in the column’s comments section:

Although, we’re focused on incoming connections here, shouldn’t we also be concerned about outgoing connections as well? This seems especially important where there are data caps or outrageously expensive cellular data plans being used.

We need a comprehensive and coordinated gate keeping strategy for all connections.

Frank raises an interesting and important point. While Apple’s Application Level Firewall is great at putting on a good defense, monitoring your outbound traffic can be enlightening and possibly even a little disturbing. It can clue you in to which of your running applications are accessing and sending data to the Internet when you might not be expecting it to and it can help you to see if unexpected applications are sending data out when you don’t want them to.

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Fire up your Mac's firewall

A few weeks back, after the Working Mac column about scanning your Mac for viruses I received an email message from Yolanda:

Hope you can help your readers with something that I haven’t found. I’ve just purchased my first Mac after being on Windows for about 15 years, so I’m looking around for reputable recommendations of free and good anti-virus/firewall programs.

The article Yolanda linked to recommended ClamXav for scanning your Mac for viruses, but Yolanda was correct, there was no mention made of firewall applications.

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Spam filtering on the cheap for your domain's email

A little over a year ago I was faced with a spam filtering problem, but it’s not what you might expect.

I had been using the paid Postini service for filtering spam sent through my domain, when Google acquired Postini and, once acquired, killed it off and forced users to transition to their Google Apps platform. I found the Google Apps interface to be clunky and, worse, my users found it difficult to use. In addition, I had no interest in sending all the mail for my private domain through Google’s servers. Suddenly the bang I was getting for my Postini buck had lost its pop, so I went looking for an another solution.

There are plenty of apps you can install on your Mac to filter spam, but, as is the case with virus scanning on PCs, most desktop software solutions are playing a game of catchup that requires training time and constant updates, which is why I was looking for a web-based solution.

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Checking your Mac for viruses -- wait, what?

As we talked about in last week’s Working Mac, you may have been led to believe that you don’t have to worry about computer viruses on your Mac. And, to some extent, there’s truth to that. While your Mac can definitely be infected with malware, Apple’s built-in malware detection and file quarantine capabilities are meant to make it less likely that you’ll download and run malicious software.

Apple introduced malware detection to the Mac OS with Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6). This system consists of the quarantine of any app downloaded from the Internet, the use of Code Signing certificates to verify that an app is coming from a legit source, and regular security updates that include databases of known malware targeting the Mac OS.

Because of this system, called File Quarantine and occasionally referred to as XProtect:

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