We’ve seen some pretty scary quotes from Web security and cloud services experts regarding the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL. Heartbleed allows hackers to steal a potential treasure trove of data, including user names, passwords, emails, credit card numbers and more, without being detected by exploiting a flaw in the OpenSSL data encryption service used by many websites around the world. However, to this point, the quote offered by Mike Lloyd, who is the CTO of RedSeal, a network security firm, might be the most frightening of them all.
“Stop all transactions for a few days,” Lloyd said of the Heartbleed bug, which was recently uncovered by a team of researchers, despite the fact that it has existed for roughly two years.
Lloyd also states that “automation” is the key to combating threats like Heartbleed, as he wrote in an official RedSeal blog post.
“What you need is automation – not just vulnerability scanning (which can find those unpatched machines), but also a pre-built map, and a way to automate and speed up the query for “where are these machines suffering from Heartbleed, and what are they exposed to?”. Wise organizations plan for this – we know it’s going to happen again.”
That’s what makes dealing with the realities of Heartbleed so frustrating. Aside from changing passwords and avoiding websites that are allegedly affected by Heartbleed, the average person is largely powerless when it comes to dealing with the threat. This isn’t a fire that can be snuffed out by employing the latest and greatest malware and anti-virus scanners, considering that this isn’t malware, but a gaping hole in the encryption service used by many of the world’s websites. It’s on individual companies, organizations, and governments to switch to a version of OpenSSL that doesn’t contain the Heartbleed flaw.
Fortunately, to this point, more than a few household name websites that were once vulnerable or suspected of being susceptible to Heartbleed, have since reportedly been patched. These include Yahoo, Google, Dropbox and others.
However, Lloyd’s warning shouldn’t go unheeded. After all, Canada has put a stop to online tax payments for the time being in light of the Heartbleed revelation, and we can’t help but wonder if other governments, companies and organizations will follow suit soon.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.
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