October 27, 2010, 4:40 PM —
Firesheep this week put the dangers of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr over open Wi-Fi networks in the spotlight. Although the dangers of open Wi-Fi networks aren't anything new, Firesheep lets anyone who can using a notebook computer side-jacking your social media session. ITWorld has already provided a list of steps you can take to protect yourself from Firesheep, but if you're extremely concerned you may want to consider Wi-Fi alternatives when out and about rather than using the network in your local coffee shop.
Those alternatives are actually ones many road warriors are already familiar with: tethering a computer to a smartphone, using a 3G modem with your notebook, or purchasing a MiFi card. All three options can be costly, but they offer a much higher level of security as well as 3G/4G access wherever you are.
Tethering – Depending on your mobile carrier and phone, tethering may be a simple option. Most smartphones can be tethered to a notebook using a USB cable or Bluetooth. Android phones running Froyo can go even further than other platforms in that they allow you to turn your phone in a secure Wi-Fi hotspot for use with multiple devices as opposed to just tethering a single device. Tethering has a cost benefit over other options because there is no additional hardware needed (though some carriers will charge extra to allow tethering – AT&T's policy on iPhone tethering comes immediately to mind). Of course, you'll still be using your plans data allotment, which add up in and of it itself. Also, while tethering is supported by both Windows and Mac OS X, it isn't supported by some other devices (like the iPad).