In the last 6 or so months, we’ve been shown the importance of being safe while surfing the web. A Firefox plugin called Firesheep debuted last year that showed us how easy it is to assume the identity of anyone signed into a website while surfing on an unsecured website.
That is, if you’re signed in to Amazon, Facebook or even Twitter via an open wireless access point (such as at Starbucks or at an airport), any person running Firesheep in their Firefox web browser can assume your session and essentially become you on that page. The exploit has been used regularly, often with the victim not even knowing it until later.
What’s the answer to this huge problem? First of all, never do important Internet business while you’re signed into an open wireless network. Secondly, these sites (such as eBay, Amazon, Facebook others) need to use HTTPS connections, which are the kind of encrypted connection your bank or online trading account uses.
Foursquare, the location based check-in service, recently started using HTTPS throughout it’s service, which will hopefully set a trend amongst services like Foursquare. According to Forusquare’s PR, “We’re moving to HTTPS proactively to increase the security of all Foursquare accounts.”.
Foursquare’s move to encrypted communication might mean the performance of the site takes a bit of a hit, but it shouldn’t be enough to notice. Foursquare joins services such as Gmail, which makes it possible to do HTTPS throughout your email session. Also, Twitter has an option to do all HTTPS communication – something I suggest you do.