Rise of Firesheep and the Vulnerability of Wi-Fi

The casual coffee shop visitor who whips out his or her laptop to enjoy some free Wi-Fi service has more reason to be concerned these days.

Developer Eric Butler has produced a web browser add-on called Firesheep that makes viewing and using people’s private, sensitive information over wireless networks easy for even complete novices.

Butler reportedly had good intentions in creating this very dangerous tool. Because of its ease of use, Firesheep’s potential for doing damage is huge. Butler explains that “it’s extremely common for websites to protect your password by encrypting the initial login, but surprisingly uncommon for websites to encrypt everything else. This leaves the cookie (and the user) vulnerable.” Because of the widespread exploitation of such security holes, Butler contends that he created Firesheep “to demonstrate just how serious this problem is.”