Firesheep: Nothing “sheepish” about this software

Find out how this software can “capture” your information when you are using free wireless.

I admit that I am an avid Firefox and Facebook user. I also admit to using free wireless in café’s, restaurants and even in my daughter’s gymnastics class when it is available to me. I thought that Firefox was supposed to be a little bit better about security than Chrome and Internet Explorer but what I found out is that using a little known tool called “Firesheep”  that when used on a free wireless network can put your information and computer security right onto the keyboard of computer hackers.

Here is how Firesheep works:

It’s not quite that easy, there are a few extra steps to do, but even a novice can, in approximately 30 minutes, figure out what to do and how to do it to get access to many of the accounts like Facebook and Twitter, you have open while you are at Starbucks sipping on a mocha latte. Maybe you are sitting down and enjoying some time in the mall shopping online while the rest of the family goes to each and every store. Consider this, someone on the same free wi fi network could see AND access your shopping cart, get credit card information and even post status updates in your name.

What is the purpose behind Firesheep? It’s actually there to show people just how easy it can be to hijack information over an open source wireless network, however we know that it can be used for “evil” too.

Should we all quit using free wi-fi? Many would say yes, we should because after all we never know when a wolf in sheep’s clothing will be knocking on that wireless door. But more importantly consumers need to push for better protection from the websites they frequent. This is not the first time we have heard about the “lax” measures that Facebook employs and it probably won’t be the last. After all, in the past there has been plenty to “dislike” about the many Facebook scams and privacy issues.
If you find it necessary to use a free wi-fi network take a few simple precautions:

• Try not to use anything that requires a password
• If you do use a service that requires a password, change it frequently.

There are also a number of programs, both free and for pay that can detect when you are being hijacked that you may want to invest in if like me, using free wi-fi is a regular need for you and your business.


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