News / Science & Technology

'Heartbleed' Flaw Endangers Encrypted Data Online

FILE - A photo shows network cables connected to a server at the CeBIT Computer and IT Far in Hanover, northern Germany.
FILE - A photo shows network cables connected to a server at the CeBIT Computer and IT Far in Hanover, northern Germany.
A glitch in software meant to encrypt and protect online transactions has potentially exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive bits of information to potential theft by computer hackers.
 
Security researchers at Google and Internet security firm Codenomicon revealed the breakdown, known as "Heartbleed", on Tuesday. The glitch was in a vulnerable version of software known as OpenSSL.  
 
OpenSSL software is meant to protect online accounts for emails, instant messaging and a wide range of electronic commerce.
 
Heartbleed is of particular concern because it went undetected for more than two years, making it difficult for people to know if they’ve been compromised. Security researchers are advising people to consider changing their online passwords.
 
“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software,” according to the website Heartbleed.com, which was set up by Codenomicon. “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.”
 
Codenomicon said it had tested its own services “from an attacker’s perspective" and successfully stolen “usernames and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents” all “without leaving a trace.”
 
The discovery of the bug prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue a warning computer users and systems administrators to see whether they’re using OpenSSL.
 
Codenomicon is advising service providers and users to “install the fix as it becomes available for the operating systems, networked appliances and software they use.”

Experts say Heartbleed is serious and of concern to all Internet users, but that before changing passwords, check to see that the bug has been patched.

"Many are calling for an immediate change to passwords - a call to action I fully endorse with one caveat," said Christopher Burgess, CEO of Prevendra, Inc., an Internet security firm. "If the entity with whom you are about to change your password has not updated their SSL, you are changing your password into an insecure environment.  I advocate checking for the update from your vendor - once they confirm, then change the password to a strong password."

Burgess added that it's important to remember that the problem isn't on your device or machine, but rather on the servers supporting websites we visit each day.

You can check if a website has updated its servers by visiting this Heartbleed testing site.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs