Cisco Blogs

Don’t be a Victim – Part 2

November 9, 2010 - 0 Comments

Yesterday I talked about the vital importance of passwords in the quest to avoid victimization, but today I will take a look at how some recent changes and advances in technology can have an impact as well.

Some of the fundamental tenants of Borderless Networks include the fact that the network is evolving. No longer the classical, hard crunchy shell with the soft chewy middle, the network has become more open, more amorphous and more mobile. Because of these factors, the network is far more available and useful to users wherever they are, at home, on the road or even chilling at *bucks. Indeed, to illustrate the ubiquity of Borderless Networks, I even saw a woman emailing on a smartphone in the middle of a Zumba class (comic aside, my participation in Zumba is a lot like an inebriated bear doing ballet, but that is a different story). The network is no longer confined to the safe castle-keep of the Enterprise, but instead now follows us wherever we go. This creates opportunities, such as receiving email from the boss while you sip a latte at a coffee shop, but it also creates vulnerabilities as well, which we will come back to.

Some of the old assumptions about what was safe or reasonable no longer hold true. One assumption was that if you connected to a site via SSL that you were safe. Well, Firesheep has turned that on its head.

Yes, we knew for years that there was a problem with the way that SSL is implemented on many sites, with the password being encrypted but the rest of the session not, but it was not easy to exploit, until now. With Firesheep, Facebook, Twitter and others, accounts are vulnerable and readily exploited, as the screenshot illustrates, with a Firefox plugin that scans shared networks for traffic with open sessions that can be snooped. So, if you have been using free public Wi-Fi and then suddenly your social media postings are a lot more vibrant than usual; there may be a reason!

Which brings us to the Borderless Networks portion of the blog.

We recently announced AnyConnect for the iPhone and Fred Kost blogged about it here. AnyConnect is a VPN client that brings safe, secure, seamless connectivity to the iPhone and Windows, Linux and Windows Mobile.

While in the past VPN connections were usually not viewed as necessary for casual web browsing, the coming of Firesheep would make a prudent person want the protection and security that a good VPN can offer and AnyConnect does that and a good deal more.

So, choose a good password, and use it. Lock your mobile phone home screen and if you don’t want to be victimized at *bucks when surfing Facebook or Twitter, use a good VPN like AnyConnect. Pretty simple, huh?

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.