News

New ‘Heartbleed’ bug poses threat to data security

New ‘Heartbleed’ bug poses threat to data security

HEARTBLEED:The finding of the so-called "Heartbleed" vulnerability, by researchers with Google Inc and a small security firm Codenomicon, prompted the U.S. government's Department of Homeland Security to advise businesses on Tuesday to review their servers to see if they were using vulnerable versions, a type of software known as OpenSSL. Photo: Reuters

BOSTON (Reuters) – A newly discovered bug in widely used Web encryption technology has made data on many of the world’s major websites vulnerable to theft by hackers in what experts say is one of the most serious security flaws uncovered in recent years.

The finding of the so-called “Heartbleed” vulnerability, by researchers with Google Inc and a small security firm Codenomicon, prompted the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security to advise businesses on Tuesday to review their servers to see if they were using vulnerable versions, a type of software known as OpenSSL.

It said updates are already available to address the vulnerability in OpenSSL, which could enable remote attackers to access sensitive data including passwords and secret keys that can decode traffic as it travels across the Internet.

“We have tested some of our own services from attacker’s perspective. We attacked ourselves from outside, without leaving a trace,” Codenomicon said on a website it built to provide information about the threat, heartbleed.com.

Computer security experts warned that means victims cannot tell if their data has been accessed which is troubling because the bug has existed for about two years.

“If a website is vulnerable I could see things like your password, banking information and healthcare data, which you were under the impression you were sending securely to your website,” said Michael Coates, director of product security for Shape Security.

Chris Eng, vice president of research with software security firm Veracode, said he estimates that hundreds of thousands of web and email servers around the globe need to be patched as soon as possible to protect them from attack by hackers who will rush to exploit the vulnerability now that it is publicly known.

The technology website Ars Technica reported that security researcher Mark Loman was able to extract data from Yahoo Mail servers by using a free tool.

A spokesperson for Yahoo Inc confirmed that Yahoo Mail was vulnerable to attack, but said it had been patched along with other main Yahoo sites such as Yahoo Search, Finance, Sports, Flickr and Tumblr.

“We are working to implement the fix across the rest of our sites right now,” she said on Tuesday evening.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco)

Latest News

3 hours ago in Entertainment

McDonald’s serving up ‘smarter’ Happy Meals

18-overlay-2

Ronald McDonald plans to serve up a side of literacy as the fast food giant swaps toys for millions of books.

3 hours ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’

12-overlay-2

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

5 hours ago in Lifestyle

Smoking bans lead to better national health

smoking

People living in countries with public smoking bans have lower exposure to secondhand smoke and better health, according to a fresh look at past research from 21 nations.

10 hours ago in Music

Elton John eyes farewell tour

eltonjohn

The veteran pop star is "gradually" winding down his music career and wants to say goodbye to fans with a farewell tour.

10 hours ago in Music

Coldplay channeling Glastonbury for Super Bowl 50

16-overlay-5

Chris Martin and his bandmates will headline the halftime show at Sunday's Super Bowl 50.