Since Mozilla couldn’t legally block the hacker extension, Firesheep, a handful of resourceful coders are doing the next best thing. One company has created a new Firefox plug-in called Blacksheep that will at least warn you that your information isn’t safe.
Firesheep is an extremely simple way for “hackers” to access their neighbors’ Wi-Fi sessions. While it doesn’t give them control of users’ systems, it does make them privy to what could be confidential information. There are a few methods of protection out there, including using a VPN anytime you’re using Wi-Fi, but that isn’t free or guaranteed. Now Firefox can directly offer an alternative.
Blacksheep was created by Zscaler, and is a free add-on to Firefox that notifies you of Firesheep users in your open network. You get the warning, and you get out. The new extension works by displaying fake web sessions on the open network and checking in every five minutes for Firesheep spies. Blacksheep also gives you the LAN IP address of the delinquent, so if you feel like confronting everyone at the local coffee shop and demanding this information, you can.
Hopefully, though, this is a temporary solution. Blacksheep is definitely an improvement, going from unknowingly being spied on to at least being cautioned about it, but that just means you’re forced to shut down your Wi-Fi session. And Firesheep is so easy to use that literally anyone is able to play “hacker” for a day.
At the moment, Blacksheep is the most useful tool if you’re worried about using Wi-Fi. But take note, Firesheep developer Eric Butler has found all solutions thus far laughably inept, and he could very well clue in Firesheep users to a workaround.
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