Heartbleed – What Is It and What Should You Do?

Chances are you’ve been made aware of the threat posed by a rather troublesome online bug titled “Heartbleed”. Before you start rushing frantically about the office wondering if you need to sort out your antivirus settings or possibly even protect your bank account details, here’s where Google and other major online companies are at so far with regards to this worrying development.

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Heartbleed came to light a couple of weeks back after OpenSSL (a piece of software that deals with security purposes throughout the web) was compromised through one of its built-in features, known widely as heartbeat. Heartbeat exchanges data between website and PC to give your computer assurance that the site is active. Whilst the feature should only ever send back the same amount of data as it receives, hackers have found a way of requesting increased amounts of data that could potentially include passwords, cookies, logins and other personal information.

It’s understood that just under 20% of internet servers have the heart bleed bug, which is a scary amount despite the fact that this figure had been inflated in the past to as much as 60% of all servers. Whilst OpenSSL has since been patched, it’s important that you do change your passwords for the services that have been affected. Google was affected but has since been fixed, though you should still look to change your passwords as soon as possible.

Don’t panic. The chances of hackers getting hold of your personal information through heart bleed are incredibly small, so all you have to do is take the necessary precautions and keep up to date with what’s going on.