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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More