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The Heartbleed Bug

Heartbleed Bug

What is it?

The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability in the SSL/TLS encryption of OpenSSL, a standard in many websites where you see ‘the padlock symbol’. It affects millions of websites, including many of the websites you use such as: Yahoo, Facebook, and Google.

What makes it difficult is you need to wait until the owners of each website – the IT administrators patch the website before you change your password. Failure to wait until a site is patched can mean you will need to change your password all over again and that the new password you just created is now compromised.

Here are a couple of references regarding websites that are affected:

Do I Need to Be Worried?

Yes – As much as we would like to say no, this bug is actually kind of a big deal. You should be watching your inbox and changing your passwords as you become instructed to do so by each website. The majority of online banking is not affected, but there are some pretty critical sites that were. If you use the same password for everything you may wish to start changing your passwords everywhere. Once a hacker gets your login info for one site (example Facebook) they typically try other sites to see what else they can get into.

For that reason you may wish to consider moving to a password manager such as Lastpass. This is a tool that manages all your passwords so you can have a unique secure password for every website, and use just one password to manage them all.

For more information call us at (510) 523-3832

Tech Speak – Courtesy of Heartbleed.com

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

What leaks in practice?

We have tested some of our own services from attacker's perspective. We attacked ourselves from outside, without leaving a trace. Without using any privileged information or credentials we were able steal from ourselves the secret keys used for our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents and communication.

How to stop the leak?

As long as the vulnerable version of OpenSSL is in use it can be abused. Fixed OpenSSL has been released and now it has to be deployed. Operating system vendors and distribution, appliance vendors, independent software vendors have to adopt the fix and notify their users. Service providers and users have to install the fix as it becomes available for the operating systems, networked appliances and software they use.

(Source: heartbleed.com, Codenomicon Ltd. April 11, 2014)

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