Firesheep, an amateur hacking tool, has been downloaded more than 104,000 times a mere 24 hours after its launch, according to TechCrunch.
Firesheep is a Firefox add-on programmed by Seattle-based software developer Eric Butler, who says he designed the extension to demonstrate the HTTP vulnerability in certain websites (such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and Yelp). The extension basically allows people to view information traded over a public network, in the form of cookies — when someone logs on to one of the 26 sites in Firesheep’s database, their information is vulnerable to being swiped.
Firesheep is available for Mac OS X and Windows.
Before privacy hawks freak out, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Because Firesheep uses information swiped from cookies, it won’t reveal passwords to any snoopers –just a person’s username and session number ID. So, while people might be able to see sensitive information (say, the person’s Facebook account), they can’t do anything that requires the password (for example, in Amazon, they won’t be able to purchase anything or access credit card information).