Will Firesheep Unleash Another Privacy Paranoia?

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” ~Rockwell

Over 500,000 people have downloaded Firesheep in just over a week since the release of the new browser add-on. If you have no idea what Firesheep is, welcome to the wild-west of internet spying for the masses …

What is Firesheep?

Firesheep is a Mozilla Firefox browser plugin that captures other people’s cookies when they log into their private accounts on public networks. This means anyone with Firesheep in Starbucks (SBUX) can now hack into your Facebook, Twitter or worse.

Is Firesheep Legal?

As every good lawyer says, “It depends.” The new hacking software for the masses has not been challenged in court, but we’re surely headed there. However, PC World notes “while the tool itself is not illegal, using it may be a violation of federal wiretapping laws and an invasion of privacy.”

Why Did the Developer Create Firesheep?

Although you may think Firesheep was created with malicious intent, actually developer Eric Butler is trying to expose a major privacy flaw in unencrypted websites:

Websites have a responsibility to protect the people who depend on their services. They’ve been ignoring this responsibility for too long, and it’s time for everyone to demand a more secure web. My hope is that Firesheep will help the users win.

This is actually a very clever culture-jam which will hopefully catalyze a move to better protect everyone as the Information Age continues to transition from the incubator to an infant’s crib.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols over at ZD Net offers 5 ways protect yourself from Firesheep. We recommend taking his advice.

Will Firesheep Unleash Another Privacy Paranoia?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYIJSSZY Yes. On the back of all the Facebook privacy concerns, apparently web culture is splitting into two camps of people: those who care about privacy and those who don’t. As I write this there are armies of coders and entrepreneurs working on services and products for those of us who are not interested in giving the world access to our private lives. Stay tuned because we should see some incredibly popular companies emerge from the privacy hysteria.

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