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Web 2.0 sites rated on FireSheep sidejacking risk

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An online services security report card shows the extent to which popular web services are exposing users to account hijacking, especially in open WiFi network environments.

The risk has been understood in security circles for years but remained underreported prior to last week's release of an account hijacking tool called FireSheep. The Firefox plugin allows surfers to sniff and capture login credentials for sites including Facebook and Twitter and to subsequently log into those accounts, all with a few clicks of a button.

Surfers can avoid the risk by using a VPN tunnel to surf the web. The objective of Eric Butler, who developed the browser add-on, is to put pressure on more Web 2.0 sites to use full end-to-end encryption for logins.

However, follow-up tests by security blogger George Ou has revealed that side-jacking attacks might still be possible even when the site runs SSL. Ou published the first version of an online services report card on Monday looking into how effectively (or not) websites protect user login details.

Ou makes Gmail teacher's pet with the only 'A' grade in the batch, while eBay gets a creditable B and both Yahoo and Amazon get a passing C-. Scorn in the report is reserved for Flickr and Hotmail (both of which scrape and D-) and, in particular, Facebook and Twitter.

The report card can be found here. ®

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