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Protecting Yourself from Firesheep Using an SSH Tunnel

12/13/2010

What is Firesheep?
Firesheep is a recently released packet sniffer with built in side-jacking, that monitors insecure networks (usually open WiFi) for web application traffic, steals session information, and automatically impersonates your logged in session to many sites (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc).

SSH Tunneling/Proxy in OSX
The simplest way to protect yourself is to establish a secure VPN/tunnel for all of your web browsing to prevent sniffing of that traffic on the network. This moves the insecure traffic between the server and the web application and off of the local network your browsing.

If you have access to a Linux server with SSH, you can build a local SSH tunnel from a port on your machine out through the server to the internet. For those of you at PatientsLikeMe, dev2 is a great server to use for this. Below is an example SSH command to load a persistent SSH tunnel with a SOCKS proxy locally forwarding traffic over it.

ssh -D 8080 -f -C -q -N wpeterson@dev2.plm

Once you’ve established your tunnel, you can configure OSX to use it by making it the default Proxy for web traffic like so:

Open Networks Panel, Click Advanced
Open Network Settings, Click Advanced

Add a New SOCKS proxy for your SSH tunnel
Configure SOCKS proxy

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Categories: Uncategorized
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