The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS encryption is responsible for ensuring secure data transmission for applications such as the web, email, instant messaging and VPNs.
Security flaws are discovered in software all the time. However, what makes this one particularly dangerous is just how widespread it really is. The discovery of the flaw has led many to find that a large portion of traffic being transmitted over the Internet is actually not secure and there is a chance that hundreds upon thousands of personal information could have been leaked to hackers.
How Does This Affect You?
Now that you know what this bug is, I’m sure you are nervous that it affects you. It’s true some of your personal information could have been stolen, but there isn’t any way to really know. What you can do is check all your accounts and providers to be sure they have updated their servers to fix the heartbleed bug. Once they have confirmed they have fixed the problem, you should change all your passwords just to be safe and monitor your personal data closely for awhile.
If you run your own web server or websites, be sure the software you use to run your site such as Drupal or WordPress has been updated if you use SSL in your site design. If not, you don’t have anything to be worried about.
Security flaws are found all the time and this one is really no different from all the others. So why is the heartbleed bug making such a big bang in the news? It’s simple. This flaw is very wide in scope affecting servers and computers all over the world. Virtually no one has been left completely untouched. The U.S. government has known about it for awhile as well and the N.S.A. has been using it for some of its spying activities. This has left many citizens up in arms about it as they sat back while millions of users personal data was left unprotected. However, keep a watch on your data and update your passwords and all your software and you should be fine.