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Guard yourself from Firesheep and Wi-Fi snooping

The abundance of free/cheap and open Wi-Fi networks in restaurants, airports, offices and hotels is a great perk to the traveling user; it makes connectivity and remote access much easier than it used to be. But you need to be informed and understand the risks.

Unfortunately, most of those “Open” networks don’t employ WEP or WPA passwords to secure the connection between device and hotspot, every byte and packet that’s transmitted back and forth is visible to all the computers on the wireless LAN, all the time. While certain sites and services use full-time browser encryption (the ones that have URLs beginning with https:// and that show a lock in the browser status bar), many only encrypt the login session to hide your username and password from prying eyes. This, as it turns out, is the digital equivalent of locking the door but leaving the windows wide open.

Firesheep is a Firefox extension which makes it trivially easy to impersonate someone to the websites they log in to while on the same open Wi-Fi network. It kicks in when you login to a website (usually in a secure fashion, via HTTPS) and then the site redirects you to a non-secured page after login. Most sites that operate this way will save your login information in a browser cookie, which can be ‘sniffed’ by someone on the same network segment; that’s what Firesheep does automatically. With the cookie in hand, it’s simple to present it to the remote site and proceed to do bad things with the logged-in account. Bad things could range from sending fake Twitter or Facebook messages all the way up to, potentially, buying things on ecommerce sites.

The solution

USE SSL/HTTPS only if the website supports it — is quite simple: after you connect, the site should keep your session secure using SSL or https. Some sites, including most banking sites, already do this. However, encryption requires more overhead and more server muscle, so many sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) only use it for the actual login. Gmail has an option to require https and has made it the default setting, but you should make sure that it’s enabled if you use Gmail (Google Apps has a similar feature). This also doesn’t necessarily help if you’re using an embedded browser in an iPhone or iPad app, where the URL is hard-coded.

Protecting yourself from Firesheep if you use Firefox or Chrome is possible with extensions like the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere, Secure Sites or Force-TLS. These work by forcing a redirect to the secure version of a site, if it exists. The obvious problems with these solutions are: a) you have to install one for each browser (and we have not yet found one for Safari), and b) it only works if a secure version of the site exists.

Even better.

A) Don’t use open networks.
B) Use a SOCKS proxy and SSH tunnel.
C) Use a VPN.

adapted via tuaw.com

  • 10/26/2010
  • IT

Apple announces OS fixes and new features

Apple announced iOS 4.1, addressing many bugs (like iPhone 3G performance) as well as bringing new features like HDR photography, HD video upload and TV show rentals. Additionally, Apple previewed iOS 4.2, bringing this and more to the iPad.

iOS 4.1 – focuses on photos, videos, and games.

  • HDR Photos – Creating high dynamic range photos has been a popular photographic technique that combines three exposures to create a single image with a greater amount of detail in the highlights and shadows. Apple’s added HDR photography to the iPhone’s camera in 4.1, letting you create HDR images automatically without any of the hard work in post.
  • HD Video Upload Over Wi-Fi – Previously, apps were required to upload HD video from the iPhone. Apple’s made the change in iOS 4.1 to allow HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, removing the annoying cap that required sending your HD video in standard definition.
  • TV Show Rentals – TV shows have always been available for purchase in iOS devices, but now you can rent them to save a little money and storage space on your device.
  • Game Center – Like the XBOX Live of iOS, Game Center provides APIs for developers but is also a new app on the iPhone (available soon via the App Store). You can play with friends, inviting them with a push notification, or be randomly assigned to other players when your friends aren’t available.

iOS 4.2 – brings the features of iOS 4 to the iPad. Multitasking, app folders, and other features will be available in November.

  • Wireless Printing – While there are a few third-party apps that bring printing functionality to iOS devices, Apple’s building printing functionality into iOS itself. Print Center will live in the multitasking drawer and let you choose printers and manage print jobs wirelessly from your iPad.
  • AirPlay – Formerly AirTunes, AirPlay is taking over wireless streaming on iDevices and will let you stream audio, video, and photos over Wi-Fi. Along with the new Apple TV, you’ll also be able to shift streams between your devices so you can, for example, finish watching a TV show or movie on the go.

Apple announces updates to iTunes, iPod, & iPhone OS

Steve Jobs returns and receives a standing ovation.

iPhone OS 3.1 Update – Free.

  • Brings “Genius” to apps.

iTunes 9

  • Genius database expanded to include “Genius Mixes”, which automatically plays songs from your library that go together
  • New syncing options: artists, genres, etc. Also for photos and movies. Manage iPhone apps in iTunes: arrange home screens.
  • Home sharing to manage copying of songs, TV shows, apps, etc. to up to 5 computers in your house.
  • Cleaner layout for iTunes Store.
  • iTunes LP: Album packages with tons of bonus material – lyrics, photos, videos, etc.
  • Now showing a demo of iTunes 9.
  • iTunes Extras: Bonus material for movies. Similar to DVD bonus features, but also includes interactive material.

iPod touch

  • price points: $199 for 8 GB, $299 for 32 GB, $399 for 64 GB.
  • 32/64 GB versions faster, with ability run OpenGL|ES 2.0 like the iPhone 3GS.

iPod classic

  • bumped from 120 GB to 160 GB. Same $249 price point.

iPod shuffle

  • New third-party headphones with iPod shuffle controls built-in.
  • Now five colors for the shuffle
  • $59 for 2 GB and $79 for 4 GB.

iPod nanos

  • Video camera
  • External speaker.
  • FM radio
  • Genius Mixes.
  • Built-in pedometer for Nike+
  • Larger display.
  • 8GB for $149, 16GB for $179
  • 09/09/2009
  • IT