Rob Kraft's Software Development Blog

Software Development Insights

Encourage your favorite free wifi hotspots to protect you from Firesheep

Posted by robkraft on January 7, 2011

Many of us are now aware how easily the other people sitting near you at the coffee shop can hijack your session with facebook and most other sites and see or change your information, read your emails, and possibly even do a little banking with your bank accounts. What is not getting as much publicity is the ease with which your free wifi hotspots can stop tools like Firesheep and make it much more difficult for those around you to monitor and hijack your activities.
The next time you visit a free wifi hotspot that is not using WPA encryption (and thus requiring a password) to their router, take a minute to explain to them that simply adding WPA security to their wireless router will provide a lot of additional security for their customers.

The password can be simple, and publicly known. I recommend that it shows up as part of the SSID broadcast name such as “Starbucks WiFi (Password is free)”.
As long as WPA encryption is used (not WEP), each person connecting to the WiFi will have an individually secretly encrypted connection to the WiFi router that is very difficult for those around them to spy upon.

For more info, check out this post from industry expert Steve Gibson:
http://steve.grc.com/2010/10/28/why-firesheeps-time-has-come/

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