This story is quite a bit off topic, but should of interest to anyone roaming around out there using laptops or other wireless devices at coffee shops, airports, or anywhere else where you are using an open wireless access point.
There is a new app out there that can turn any firefox browser into a hacking device. So when you are using a wireless connection in a coffee shop, this is what the experts tell us to do:
Five tips to safeguard against Wi-Fi snoops
- Don’t use open Wi-Fi networks. If you must, when signing into Facebook, Twitter, your e-mail or other websites that require user authentication, make sure the Web address starts with https. Some sites, like your bank or gmail, automatically default to https. Others like Facebook and Twitter don’t, but you can choose that option.
- To switch to a secure connection, you can go to the address bar and add an “s” to http; for example, if you do that with Facebook, you’ll find yourself at https://www.facebook.com. When you bookmark sites, make sure you bookmark the ones starting with https.
- Use the Firefox plug-in Force-TLS to force sites to use https, a move that makes any data transferred between your computer and the website it is reaching unreadable to snoops. You can search for Force-TLS at https://addons.mozilla.org. There’s a similar one on Firefox called HTTPS Everywhere, still in beta. Once Force-TLS is added, you’ll get an option in the drop-down Tools menu to “ForceTLS Configuration.” You have to add in all the networks you want to sign into only with https. If the website doesn’t have the option of a secure connection, it won’t work.
- When you’re signing into any networks that require authentication in a new wireless location -say you’ve gone out for coffee and taken your netbook along without signing out -make sure you have closed any online accounts before you log onto the network. Then sign in again, making sure it’s over a https connection.
- Use your company VPN (Virtual Private Network) or set up your own VPN, although that is an option more complicated than the casual computer user would want to undertake.
Wi-Fi snooping tool drills gaping holes in security from the Vancouver Sun