It won’t actually make your heart bleed and you can’t catch it. But it has caused a lot of heartburn since it was announced and probably caused lots of websites to bleed valuable data. Here is a list of eleven things you should know about the Heartbleed bug.
It’s an exploit in OpenSSL, a type of security that protects a user’s communications with a website (the s in https) and around half a million secure web servers may have been affected.
“Open” means it’s open source and free for anyone to use. It also means all the code is freely available and has been since Open SSL was first introduced more than 15 years ago.
It’s a very big deal. According to Bloomberg “Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest flaws in the Internet’s history, affecting the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites.”
It was discovered just recently by a security firm. But it’s apparently been known to the criminal community for a couple of years, and they may have been quietly exploiting it all that time.
Heartbleed is not actually a virus or malware or a hack but simply a mistake in software coding made, probably innocently, by one of the many contributors to the Open SSL project.
It can steal user passwords and credit card numbers – things that are most often protected by SSL.
Some of the biggest sites on the web have been affected, from Gmail and Yahoo, to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube. However, it’s unlikely your bank’s website has been affected because few banks actually use Open SSL.
A number of news outlets say that criminal weren’t the only ones who knew about Heartbleed and were quietly exploiting it. Some are accusing the NSA of knowing about Heartbleed for nearly two years and using the flaw as a spying tool.
If in doubt, change passwords for all your important websites, then change them again in a few weeks. Some websites are slow to fix the flaw, so it might be safer to change passwords more than once.
If you want to check whether or not a website is still unpatched and vulnerable to Heartbleed, there are plenty of places to do so. Try https://filippo.io/Heartbleed/.
If you host a website, make sure you apply the security update. You can get more information at http://www.openssl.org/.
To help keep your website protected, all SiteLock pricing SecureSpeed and higher include daily vulnerability scanning that detect Heartbleed and similar issues. To learn more call 855-378-6200.