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)

Recent Headlines

in National

Jobless claims signal firmer labor market

Job seekers adjust their paperwork as they wait in line to attend a job fair in New York February 28, 2013.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen.

in National

Accused Boston bomber appears in court

In this courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is depicted sitting in federal court in Boston Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, for a final hearing before his trial begins in January. Tsarnaev is charged with the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspect told a judge that he was satisfied with his lawyers' preparations for the January start of his trial over the deadly 2013 attack.

in Entertainment

Third ‘Night at the Museum’ marks final film for Williams, Rooney

nightatthemuseum

The credits for "Secret of the Tomb," which opens Friday, read "In loving memory of Mickey Rooney," and "For Robin Williams - the magic never ends."