Firesheep And Protecting Your Wifi Connection – A Few Thoughts And Best Practices

You probably already knew that wireless network security isn’t perfect. If you travel anywhere and use wifi anyplace other than your own home network (with all of the proper security elements in place), you need to take a look at this Wikipedia Article on the topic.

What does this mean to the non geek? Enter Firesheep, a FREE Firefox plugin that will allow anyone on an open wifi network to do some damage to anyone else on the same network silly enough to be surfing without some form of protection. Does Firesheep do anything new? No, it just proves how stinking easy it is to do some real damage on an open wifi connection.

What do I do about the whole issue? I use and their Personal VPN service. It’s just $40 a year and works on my laptop, iPad and iPhone.

A cheaper (free) option is Hotspot Shield. It’s a free (and reported Spyware/Adware free) program that works on both the Mac and PC. It’s provides a VPN without cost, but you do “pay” for it with a series of ads that they embed over your browser, etc. It could be worse, and you can’t beat the price – but the big issue is the face that it doesn’t provide an iPad, iPhone, or other portable device option.

Below is a video called “Firesheep And Wifi Security – What To Do And How To Protect Yourself” that I put together for eMarketing Vids. It puts pictures to the concepts. Click through if you can’t see the embed below.

What are you doing about Firesheep and/or Wifi security? I’d love your thoughts below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Andrew Nesbitt

    Witopia is a brilliant service. Their cloakbox is great and perfect for a wireless setup at home. On my iPhone/iPad I've found that I get slightly performance using Strong VPN.

    So my setup is Witopia cloakbox for creating my own protected wireless network, and Strong VPN for individual mobile devices.

  • paulcolligan

    Thanks for the clarification. For those who don't know Andrew, he's not from North America BTW.

  • Jason S

    WOW!!, Thanks for the heads up Paul and Mike K…)

  • Stephanlittle

    it seems this is an obvious strategy when using hotpots is a coffee shop or something…

    But…if I have a wifi at home which is secured with the standard on board methods…do we have the same risk on that net?

  • paulcolligan

    Glad we could help.

  • paulcolligan

    Yes, this is only an issue for sites with open wifi – like a coffee shop, or a hotel, or an event.

  • Josh_Anderson

    Thanks Paul. Great and clear tips :-)

  • john

    I was interested in security when surfing WiFi. The encription doesn't protect me right? Even if I have a password for my airport. (mac)

  • paulcolligan

    Hey Josh, good to hear from you buddy. If you got anything to add, please do.

  • paulcolligan

    Encryption keeps your stuff from being open and available – i.e., someone couldn't use Firesheep on you.

  • Manfredwolff

    Thanks a lot, Paul!

  • Mark Meir

    Great info, thanks, will retweet and FB this info. This is particularly important for people using FB and Twitter to market.

  • Lanikee

    Aloha Paul, I appreciate you sharing this important message. Gosh its like leaving our doors open in our home and whomever just walks in and invites themselves. Glad i came by. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • paulcolligan

    Thrilled to help.

  • paulcolligan

    Exactly. And we tend to be the types who enjoy open wifi too 😉

  • paulcolligan

    Just take action and it was all worth it.

  • Stan Dubin

    Here's a program that just came out that apparently can circumvent Firesheep: — This is a shortened link from the Mashable web site. The long link is:

  • paulcolligan

    Please remember, a program that can circumvent Firesheep is only a tiny tiny tiny part of dealing with the dangers of an open wifi network.

  • Nurul Chowdhury

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the great info, I just tweeted it to my followers. Life on the internet is becoming very dangerous now.

  • paulcolligan

    Glad I could help make it just a bit better.