Protecting Yourself From Firesheep

More

Q: I heard about Firesheep, a tool that allows people to hack my computer. How can I protect myself when using an open Wi-Fi network?

ZScaler.jpgA: Firesheep, a free extension for Firefox that was released a few weeks ago, bills itself as a tool designed to expose networks that leave information unencrypted, thereby failing to protect users who access said networks. By explosing the security flaws, though, Firesheep has made amateur hacking as easy as following a few simple steps. And that's why the extension has been getting a lot of attention.

"Any time you use a free public Wi-Fi hook up -- such as those you find at Starbucks and many airports -- your risk of having someone sitting nearby commandeer your session is imminent," USA Today explained. "That's because most free Wi-Fi hook ups are unencrypted."

A new extension, BlackSheep, promises to alert you whenever your information is comprised because of a Firesheep user. Built using the same open-source code that runs Firesheep, BlackSheep generates fake traffic on your network every X minutes (configurable) to hunt out Firesheep. If it detects a Firesheep user, BlackSheep adds a warning to your open browser tab and will also note the IP address. BlackSheep's notification doesn't protect you, but it will tell you when to disconnect from the network you're on. Also, it doesn't notify you of any hackers using different programs to access your information through the network. But, as Firesheep has grown in popularity since its release, especially among users without the skills to hack using a different program or code, adding the extension to your browser couldn't hurt.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

Social Security is the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In