Following our recent report on the Firefox extension Firesheep, which allows wireless network users to easily hack into others' accounts, this week has seen the release of Blacksheep, an extension that alerts users to the presence of a Firesheep hacker. The news will be welcomed by regular users of unsecured wireless networks, such as those in cafes and bars, and marks the first major step towards properly addressing the issues surrounding the fragility of wireless networks.
It is these security issues that the original programmer of Firesheep claimed the release of his software was designed to highlight, although it was received with mixed opinions last month. Some claimed that the extension simply opened up hacking to more users, allowing people to access others' accounts in a way that was before only the preserve of those with high technical knowledge. The ability for people to hack in such a way is not a new thing, however, and the programmer behind Firesheep stood by his original claim that the intention was to highlight the security issues and move towards solving them in the future.
Blacksheep certainly seems to be a step towards doing this and while it works purely as a flag for wireless network users, to let them know that a user on the same network is using Firesheep, and not an actual block or prevention tool, it is fulfilling Firesheep's wish for wireless internet security to be addressed and solutions sought.
The developers of the new Blacksheep software, web security specialists zscaler, have it available to download for free on their website now. Specifically mentioning the Firesheep extension, their site introduces Blacksheep as a "Free tool to protect against Firesheep Security threat. Blacksheep alerts users if sessions are hijacked after logging in to a social network or email."