Accessing the internet on open public Wi-Fi hotspots is no longer safe.
Using new tools such as Firesheep, a fellow patron at your local coffee shop can easily snoop around into your online business. Firesheep make use of a vulnerability with cookies – called HTTP session hijacking (or “sidejacking”) and allows its operator, when accessing the same Wi-Fi network as you, to access anything you can on a particular website including password protected sites. Firesheep is easy to install — just a simple Firefox extension – but is a sophisticated hacking tool that can be used by almost anyone, regardless of technical ability. By surfing on an insecure Wi-Fi connection at a cafe or hotel, you leave yourself open to this exploit – including letting a hacker gain access to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
So how can you protect yourself from this type of hacking?
If you use public Wi-Fi connections, your best solution is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service such as Hide My Ass. VPN services create a secure tunnel for all your internet traffic — keeping you anonymous (with an anonymous IP address) and also protecting you from hackers using Firesheep or other hacking software. Check out Hide My Ass for a web proxy tool as well as professional VPN solutions that are easy to install and use. That should keep you safe!