Heartbleed bug affects ‘almost everyone,’ expert warns

two apple airport base stations were vulnerable to heartbleed but have been patched bug

Experts say the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug — a flaw in the network software meant to protect your data — may have actually allowed hackers to steal the very data it’s meant to guard. Think you’re safe from this obscure bug in OpenSSL, whatever that is? Think again. One expert noted that “almost everyone” uses it. 

“Given that over half of the world’s webservers use Apache, and Apache uses OpenSSL, the majority of people are using applications built on top of OpenSSL on a regular basis,” explained Steve Pate, the Chief Architect at cloud services company HyTrust.

The Heartbleed bug is a security hole discovered in OpenSSL, widely used network software that encrypts the sensitive data you input into many popular websites. The flaw allows hackers to steal data directly from the memory chips of servers all over the world, and has been in existence for roughly two years. Jean Taggart, a Senior Security Researcher at Malwarebytes, which makes popular anti-malware software, described it as an easy way for crooks to invisibly sweep up your data.

MORE: What is the Heartbleed Bug?

“This vulnerability gives cyber criminals a method for collecting very sensitive information, like private encryption keys. If an adversary has extracted the private key through the Heartbleed vulnerability, they can impersonate the victim, and set up an undetectable man-in-the-middle attack,” Taggart said.

OpenSSL has a history of being vulnerable to attacks, Pate says, with the first flaw spotted by HyTrust back in May of 2009. However, Pate also notes that though OpenSSL 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta already have Heartbleed bug fixes available, if the affected versions are being used, the exploit may have already been used by hackers to swipe sensitive data.

 Taggart also explained that exterminating the security flaw will be no easy task.

“Fixing this bug will not be trivial, because even though security professionals can roll out an upgrade, many will not reset their certificates as this is a difficult and lengthy task. So if they were compromised prior to the announcement of the bug, their private keys might already be in the hands of adversaries, and their encrypted communications could be intercepted by third parties.”

MORE: Which websites are affected by the Heartbleed Bug?

Nathaniel Couper-Noles, a Principal Security Consultant at security firm Neohapsis, said that though there are workarounds and fixes available to combat Heartbleed, “the horse may already be out of the barn.”

“Many organizations aren’t instrumented to identify whether and where they’re vulnerable, the attack may leave no footprint discernable from legitimate traffic, and the consequences can potentially be long term,” Couper-Noles said. On top of that, Couper-Noles noted that there could be “hundreds or thousands of affected systems” across the world’s businesses.

At this point, changing your passwords is the best course of action you can take to protect yourself from the Heartbleed bug. On top of that, avoiding the webpages on this list of sites that are allegedly affected by the OpenSSL flaw is also highly recommended.

Image credit: http://www.wallpaperzzz.com

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…
Computing

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Gaming

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Apple

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Photography

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.
Computing

Your MacBook can live in the lap of luxury with this leather case

Though there are several cases which we think are best for covering up MacBooks, Twelve South's Journal case is one of the newest available, providing luxurious leather coverage for your Apple laptop.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Computing

15-inch MacBook Pro gets more powerful with new AMD Vega GPUs

Confirming Apple's quiet October announcement, new configurations for the top-range 15-inch Apple MacBook laptop are now available, coming complete with AMD Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 graphics cards on board.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.