Vulnerabilities / Threats
10/29/2010
02:05 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
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
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6306
Published: 2014-08-22
Unspecified vulnerability on IBM Power 7 Systems 740 before 740.70 01Ax740_121, 760 before 760.40 Ax760_078, and 770 before 770.30 01Ax770_062 allows local users to gain Service Processor privileges via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-0232
Published: 2014-08-22
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in framework/common/webcommon/includes/messages.ftl in Apache OFBiz 11.04.01 before 11.04.05 and 12.04.01 before 12.04.04 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, which are not properly handled in a (1)...

CVE-2014-3525
Published: 2014-08-22
Unspecified vulnerability in Apache Traffic Server 4.2.1.1 and 5.x before 5.0.1 has unknown impact and attack vectors, possibly related to health checks.

CVE-2014-3563
Published: 2014-08-22
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in Salt (aka SaltStack) before 2014.1.10 allow local users to have an unspecified impact via vectors related to temporary file creation in (1) seed.py, (2) salt-ssh, or (3) salt-cloud.

CVE-2014-3587
Published: 2014-08-22
Integer overflow in the cdf_read_property_info function in cdf.c in file through 5.19, as used in the Fileinfo component in PHP before 5.4.32 and 5.5.x before 5.5.16, allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) via a crafted CDF file. NOTE: this vulnerability exists bec...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Three interviews on critical embedded systems and security, recorded at Black Hat 2014 in Las Vegas.