Vulnerabilities / Threats
10/29/2010
02:05 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Firesheep Exposes Need For Encryption

Using Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, or other Web services on an open WiFi network could lead to lead to account hijacking.

An open-source Firefox extension called Firesheep has shined a spotlight on just how insecure it is to use unprotected WiFi networks.

It's widely known that unprotected WiFi networks make sensitive data readily available for anyone with the technical skill necessary to find it, as demonstrated by Google's four-year Street View WiFi data gathering odyssey.

Google got into trouble for being unaware that software in its Street View cars was vacuuming data, but those broadcasting sensitive information over their networks and those running Web services with inadequate security somehow escaped blame.

That may change, thanks to Firesheep, which allows anyone to scan unprotected WiFi networks for users who are logged into Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and a variety of other Web 2.0 services and to impersonate those users by hijacking their session cookie.

"On an open wireless network, cookies are basically shouted through the air, making these attacks extremely easy," wrote Firesheep creator Eric Butler in a blog post. "This is a widely known problem that has been talked about to death, yet very popular Web sites continue to fail at protecting their users. The only effective fix for this problem is full end-to-end encryption, known on the Web as HTTPS or SSL."

Butler says that Web sites have a responsibility to protect their users and that he hopes Firesheep will encourage Web sites to take action.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging Firefox users to employ an extension called HTTPS Everywhere to counter the threat. At its name suggests, HTTPS Everywhere tries to force every connection to use HTTPS encryption, though it only works if the Web site in question has implemented HTTPS.

"Firesheep makes loud and clear something that EFF has said for some time: major Web sites need to implement HTTPS properly and completely," wrote the EFF's Seth Schoen and Richard Esguerra in a blog post.

Another alternative is a Firefox extension called Force-TLS. Using a VPN also works.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7178
Published: 2014-11-28
Enalean Tuleap before 7.5.99.6 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via the User-Agent header, which is provided to the passthru PHP function.

CVE-2014-7850
Published: 2014-11-28
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Web UI in FreeIPA 4.x before 4.1.2 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via vectors related to breadcrumb navigation.

CVE-2014-8423
Published: 2014-11-28
Unspecified vulnerability in the management portal in ARRIS VAP2500 before FW08.41 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-8424
Published: 2014-11-28
ARRIS VAP2500 before FW08.41 does not properly validate passwords, which allows remote attackers to bypass authentication.

CVE-2014-8425
Published: 2014-11-28
The management portal in ARRIS VAP2500 before FW08.41 allows remote attackers to obtain credentials by reading the configuration files.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?