Protect Yourself From Firesheep
Firesheep and Side Jacking or Http Jacking
This is kind of old news, but every once in a while I run across an old article on Firesheep. There was a big ‘blow up' when it first came onto the scene, and in typical online media fashion, everyone wrote about it, then everyone forgot about it.
Well, it's still around, you just don't hear about it.
What is it?
It's basically a simple add-on for Firefox that allows you to steal passwords and other personal information that's passed over a shared network.
You might think this exempts you because you don't use any kind of shared network. This is not true. Every time you use wifi, it's a shared network.
If you ever connect to the internet at Starbucks, at the mall, in the dentist's waiting room, or at an airport lobby, it's a shared network.
Even your home network could be a shared network without you know it. It's relatively easy to hack someone's wifi password, especially when your neighbors aren't tech savvy and have passwords like ‘1234' or ‘password'. Seriously. I read that 1111 is the most common ATM pin number in the US.
If someone is hijacking your wifi, technically, you've agreed to share information with them. By using a tool like Firesheep, they are able to monitor the network and see what you're doing online.
Why Can't They Stop This?
Packet sniffing is not an illegal tool. Actually, lots of network admins use it to make a private network safe. It could be used at work to make sure no one is looking at porn when they should be working. Unfortunately, it can also be used to steal account passwords.
What can I do about it?
Most likely your home will be safe, especially if you take measures to monitor your own network and see who else is connected. But while connected to the internet in shared wifi zones you will not have that kind of control. Wikipedia lists virtual private networks as one way to combat Firesheep and other privacy/security issues.