The tech community had been ablaze with the news of the latest major threat to online security – the Heartbleed bug. This surely made a lot of hearts bleed with fear of losing their confidential information, especially passwords. No matter how drastic the implications may seem, you need to calm down and relax. While the effects of the bug cannot be removed completely, the best approach is to change the passwords to your online accounts as soon as possible. The Heartbleed bug may be one of the most serious threat that has presented itself to the online community but there have not been any major reporting of account hacks. This does not indicate in any way that you should let down your defences as only time will tell the true destruction that the virus has caused in its path.
There may be many out there who are unaware of actual implications and the characteristics of the Heartbleed bug. Here is the simplified version. All websites use OpenSSL, an encryption software, for securing information by encrypting the data based on specific encryption algorithms.The bug uses a flaw in this encryption system for making it possible to hack into online portals, sites and other places. This error was generated due to a mistake in a line of code which was written some time in 2012. You can easily compare this situation to the scenario where a mighty structure is made to fall by affecting a small component. This just goes on to prove that the even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant error can bring about major consequences.
The flaw can easily be exploited for ones benefit as the manipulation of the connection that allows two computers to communicate with each other can result in multiple access being made to information stored on servers lacking adequate protection. The big was aptly named Hartbleed because the connection between the two computers which is flawed is known as heartbeat. The scary part is that you don’t have toe a very experienced hacker to break into the communication security layers of online websites. By getting access to the encryption keys, one can easily take out any information that one desires.
Reports of heartbleed attack have come around this week with the Canada Revenue Agency stating that the flaw resulted in the loss of personal information for approximately 900 taxpayers. A parenting magazine with origins in England has also claimed that the bug has caused information theft from its servers.
As of now we are completely helpless with respect to the implications of this bug. No one knows when an effective resolution would be developed. Till then we can only monitor our accounts for suspicious activity and keep changing our passwords periodically. The challenging part is knowing whether the affected website has been duly fixed or is it still subjected to viral malice. Experts suggest that the password to a repaired site should be changed immediately to prevent any further attempts at malicious attacks by hackers.
Banks and financial institutions seem to be responding well to the threat. Those who are worried that their financial data could be compromised need not worry. Even if the websites have become vulnerable to the bug, the banks have special filters and additional protection in place that transcend the implications of the Heartbleed bug. Needless to say, banks would have taken measures irrespective of the possibility of the advent of such security threats, because finance is a sensitive industry involving the movement of funds. No one would ever want to compromise the safety of their financial assets. Some of the financial institutions that were unaffected by the bug include Bank of America, PayPal, Vanguard and TurboTax.
Facebook expressed that no reports of infiltrations were made or detected. But they are working on strengthening the security of their systems further along with encouraging users to come up with unique and hard-to-guess passwords. Netflix too worked on improving its system and did a thorough check for identifying the vulnerabilities. Google did not face any difficulties as the development team had detected this problem way in advance and this prevented any difficulties from reaching the users.
The best way to keep yourself safe from the implications of the bug is to undertake periodic monitoring of your online accounts and to keep changing your password. It would also be a good approach to never use the same password-username combination for multiple accounts. In the event of an infiltration, the hacker could get access to all of your accounts that have the same password without much efforts.
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