Hospitals, nonprofit groups, anyone running a website has to drop everything to lock it all down now. The effect is a lot like loosing a new virus (and might ultimately be treated that way).
> As long as only the highly motivated can exploit it, it's not really a problem, gotcha.
^ This modified statement is correct. All I'm saying that making something easy to use and publicizing it widely is going to result in a lot more people using it.
[Edits - hey jfager, I don't know you from adam and don't particularly enjoy flamewars. I agree that in the long run this should be fixed, ideally in such a way that 99.99% of people can blissfully go about their day. I just wish that the energy to secure stuff had taken the form of (say) a post on "here's how Google converted Gmail to https" rather than Firesheep. Hope we can find some common ground and you can see my POV.]
Your implicit definition of 'highly motivated' (someone willing to put in 5 minutes of Googling) makes me sad.
I'm agitated because you're trying to hang someone for doing A Good Thing: putting real pressure on the bigs to finally actually fix a well-known, longstanding problem.
[Response to your edit: Facebook, Twitter, and other big sites know about the problem. How would explaining to them how Google secured Gmail change anything? They know how Google secured Gmail, and they know how to secure their own services. They just simply aren't, because it saves them money and their customers aren't demanding it. But the only reason their customers aren't demanding it is because the vast majority of their customers don't know the threat exists. This tool makes the threat clear as day to the most unsophisticated layperson, which makes it real, effective pressure, far more than yet another blog post asking nicely for SSL by default].
It wasn't until Napster made that 0 minutes of googling that MP3 filesharing really took off.
For something like this to end up on millions of desktops, you have to be able to explain it to a half-stoned frat at a party. "Five minutes of googling and then some nerdery"? No chance. "Install this, go to the quad and you can sign into the facebook of any other person there?" Yup, that's going to spread like wildfire.
This isn't new. Point and click tools for doing this existed 10 years ago. Making a firefox plugin just pushed it back to the top of the headlines. This is actually a good thing because if word spreads more people will be aware of the already existing risk and will be more security conscious.
Does this mean everyone should stop logging into their personal accounts over unsecure wifi at school or starbucks? ABSOLUTELY.
Hopefully this new attention on an old hole will motivate more admins to fix their networks and more users to realize how vulnerable they are.
(a) network effects
(b) autosharing, spurring more (a)
Neither of these apply here.
This kind of exploit is so many years old that it's a matter of basic public education and computer literacy. While this might be a "forcing function" on the web development community - it is not unfair. There is so much new tech every year, it's unfortunate that security isn't more in the consciousness of tech.
There may be more graceful ways to lead "sheep" to more secure use of the internet deserving of praise, but it's fair game to release an exploit, and I'd rather see FireSheep than censorship of it.