16 August 2007

(Wi-Fi) cookies are bad for you: Security of public Wi-Fi fails



Almost all Web-based e-mail and other collaborative services just aren’t safe to use over public Wi-Fi any more, due to a breach described today by a security firm CEO at the Black Hat security conference.


Web 2.0 services, even though the login’s made through SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), are crackable through a simple workaround, announced by Rob Graham, the aforementioned security guru, at the Las Vegas Black Hat conference today. Unlimited access to your accounts only requires an ordinary network sniffer program to read the cookies sent to users by Google Mail, Yahoo, and scores of other sites. That cookie confirms the browser asking for data belongs the person just logging in, but using a copied cookie by a completely different browser makes unrestricted access to your accounts easy.

“If I sniff your Gmail connection and get all your cookies and attach them to my Gmail, I now become you, I clone you,” Graham said during a presentation reported by The Register. “Web 2.0 is now fundamentally broken.”

Any session not totally SSL-secured from beginning to end is crackable. The indefinite duration of many session IDs allows silent access to your accounts years from now, even after passwords change. Therefore, instant messenger services offered by Web 2.0 firms (again, Yahoo comes to mind) which use the same password as e-mail service are also crackable.

The one exception was Google, and only if the customizegoogle firefox extension is set to lock Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs into requiring SSL encryption for their entire sessions.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.