Feeds

Software engineer blogs own Starbucks wiretap

Firesheep theatre

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Firesheep – the Firefox extension that lets you nab people's cookies over insecure networks and hijack their web accounts – doesn't do anything that hasn't been done for years. But it makes for good theatre.

Last week, in an effort to "spread the word" about the dangers of sidejacking, New York-based software engineer Gary LosHuertos fired up Firesheep at his local Starbucks and started nabbing identities.

"I thought I'd spread the word and help some laymen out after work since there's a large Starbucks near my apartment. I dropped in, bought some unhealthy food, opened my laptop and turned on Firesheep. Less than one minute later, there were five or six identities sitting in the sidebar," he writes on his personal blog. "Around half an hour later, I'd collected somewhere between 20 and 40 identities."

Most were Facebook identities. So Gary started sending people messages from their own Facebook accounts warning them he had just hijacked their Facebook accounts. "Since Facebook was by far the most prevalent (and contains more personal information than Twitter), I decided to send the users messages from their own accounts to warn them of their accounts' exposure," he says.

After a few minutes, he decided he had done some good. Some names disappeared from Firesheep. Then the names appeared again. So he logged into their Facebook accounts a second time. "Did they receive the first message?" he says. "Surely enough, they had."

So then he sidejacked somebody's Amazon account. "One of them was even on Amazon.com, which I had warned about in my first message. I targeted him first: I opened up his Amazon homepage, identified something he had recently looked at, and then sent him a 'no, seriously' message on Facebook from his account including the fun fact about his music choices."

The Amazon man vanished. So Gary logged back into more Facebook accounts. "I drafted a very short message (perhaps the first was too long?) and sent it to the four, once again from their own accounts," he writes. After twenty minutes, he wasn't sure if they had gotten his second message, so he logged into their accounts again.

They had.

Then he left. But he gave one final lesson for his fellow coffee drinkers. "I packed my things, I walked around the store, and recognized several of the people I'd just introduced to their own vulnerability. I included no clues as to my identity, less because of fear of retribution, and more because invasion of privacy is all the more frightening when it is committed by an absolute stranger with no chance of discovering their identity."

When he got home, he realized his pants were unzipped. "Back at my apartment, I began to settle in – only to realize that throughout the entire night, my fly had been wide open. Just another demonstration: we're all walking around with vulnerabilities we have yet to discover."

Yet another demonstration: if you blog about Firesheeping people in your local Starbucks, you're publically admitting to a felony.

Bootnote

A tip of the hat to privacy guru Chris Soghoian.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?