Friday, December 3, 2010

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Shearing FireSheep with the Cloud

If your laptop ever connects to a network behind enemy lines (e.g. hhonors, attwifi, panera), this post is for you. The step-by-step directions below allow you to stand up a portable, cloud-based private VPN that you can use from anywhere – for around $0.50 a month. Once you get everything setup, you can feel good connecting to a hotspot and laugh at the guy running FireSheep.

Speaking of Firesheep, I’ve actually had some people close to me (including my wife) ask how they can prevent these types of attacks from happening. There are some nice “off-the-shelf” solutions like HTTPS Everywhere and BlackSheep but as a security professional I wanted to give a recommendation that would provide broader coverage than these solutions.

Enter Amazon’s recently introduced Free Tier for EC2. I’ll save my thoughts and comments on “The Cloud” and security for a later date (and after a couple of beers), but for the purposes of this solution, it works great to help you increase your security while using open wireless networks. Quite simply, the solution I came up with was to create an EC2 instance with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS server and setup OpenVPN and SideStep. This allows me to route all of my traffic over an SSL or SSH VPN to my EC2 instance and then out to the Internet.


Very cool tutorial on setting up a OpenVPN server in the "cloud" (Amazon EC2 Free Tier) and routing traffic in OSX to protect network activity, especially in open unsecured public WiFi.

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