Online Security: Data Encryption Prioritized

Firesheep, the open-source Firefox browser extension, generated lots of attention the previous week owing to its insidiousness, enabling it users on public Wi-Fi networks to log into other peoples account on unsecured websites. It accesses users vital information through cookies, and wired to identify some dozens of popular websites known to be vulnerable to attackers such as social networking portals.

A glaring instance of how unprotected Wi-Fi networks can make sensitive data available to anyone with the technical ability to decode them is the Google Street View Wi-Fi data gathering, that almost marred its public trust.

Eric Butler, Firesheep creator, in a blog post stressed the need for more caution on the part of users as to the extent of their sensitive information they make available online and calls for websites to take more responsibility in protecting their users.

However, the best possible solution has been presented by end-to-end data encryption, which is generally denoted by HTTPS or SSL.

Firefox users over Wi-Fi networks are thereby enjoined to employ the inbuilt HTTPS Everywhere extension to counter the threat, albeit that the feature works only when the given website has implemented HTTPS. And major websites as a matter of urgency must implement HTTPS completely, as new hacking tools continue to exploit the unprotected medium through which data is transmitted to victimize users.
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