You may have heard about the terrifying new internet bug known as “Heartbleed.” Its existence was announced recently, but it’s been around, possibly secretly stealing information from websites, for approximately two years. This isn’t fear mongering, it’s reality. Scary reality.
The reason this bug is so scary is that it gets around a secure internet connection—that’s the green padlock in your URL bar that you see on sites such as Twitter or, yes, your bank’s website—to steal sensitive information. The New Yorker has a fantastic article that explains exactly how this works in layman’s terms. Suffice it to say, it’s pretty imperative that a patch is found quickly. Google, Bing, Facebook, Youtube, and many other popular sites have already patched the bug, but it’s recommended that you change your password.
Even with the problem being fixed, the long exposure that has already happened is worrisome. So what can your Beaverton or Hillsboro business do to best protect itself from any fallout? Changing your password only works on sites that have already been patched. If they have not been patched, your new password may be acquired by Heartbleed again. You can check whether a site has been patched by emailing the business and asking or, if it’s a popular site, checking online. This site has a search function that will tell you if a site has been fixed.
If you own a site that gathers sensitive information from users, check with your hosting company, the people who own the servers that your website is on. They are responsible for fixing Heartbleed. Of course, there is no way to tell if information has actually been stolen or not, so make sure to urge your users to change their passwords and keep an eye on unusual activity with their accounts. Chances are, you will not have to deal with any issues, but it’s always better to come up with a plan in case the worst happens.
This frightening bug with the paranormal romance-worthy name is something to keep an eye on, but it is also not something to get terribly worked up over, despite the facts we’ve given in this post. Keep informed, knowledge really is power.