Heartbleed Bug has spread like the plague quite recently, leaving disaster and ongoing doubt as to the field of Internet security in general. Since it is a severe vulnerability found at the OpenSSL certificate, it has raised grave concern regarding the ability of cryptographic tools to deliver what they promise Internet users to do. Imagine you use advanced technology in the aim of keeping classified information private and learn that this very technology has led to the leakage of your information. As you can see, there is nothing trivial about that and there is no room for idle hands!
Before being able to fight something off, you need to dig deeper and learn everything about it. This is what we are trying to do here; prior to protecting ourselves against Heartbleed attacks, it is crucial that we know EXACTLY what they are and what they are capable of.
Behind the Curtain of Heartbleed Attacks
For those romantic souls that have been wondering why on Earth such a threat has been given a name reminding of the most vital organ in our body (and the part of us linked with love and intimacy), the truth is not that idyllic! As we have stated above, Heartbleed is the vulnerability in the encryption standard called OpenSSL. This encryption has been able to offer security to all Internet users who sought solid and risk-free sharing of emails and other data.
In order to succeed in ensuring this protected sharing environment, a computer would send a small portion of data and it would ask for a reply. This data is best known as a heartbeat. The success of the vulnerability lies beneath the masking into heartbeats and thus this plain and yet deadly effective trick played to computers. You may have been infected, without any trace of knowing whether or not you are safe and whether or not your data has been compromised. Quite spooky, to say the least!
How to Get Superb Protection
OK, we have found out what a Heartbleed attack is and how it can affect our digital life. Now, it is time to move on and see how we can confront the threat that has been lurking and waiting to devour our privacy. This problem is certainly strong and persistent, but we should not give up that easily. Now, let’s see what we can do towards eliminating the threat of Heartbleed attacks:
- Change Your Passwords: This is not news, we know! However, there are many people who forget updating their passwords on a regular basis. More than ever before, this consideration is the best defensive system you can proceed with. Change your passwords and make sure that the new ones are thoroughly protected at a password manager or somewhere out of sight. Keeping them at a document on your desktop does not qualify as online security precautions, of course!
- Evaluate Sites: Even if the menace of Heartbleed has spread and the whole world has been notified of what is going on, there are still websites that have not updated their software accordingly. You should find out whether or not the sites you are interested in visiting and logging in are safe, having performed everything necessary to ensure your protection. If you want to have full control over the sites you visit and their safety level, you can use tools just like the following:
Such tools will let you know if there is any suspicion about the software used by the site, encouraging you to take the needed precautions.
- Look Out for Phishing: Ever since Heartbleed attacks began, there has been enough room for phishing attempts and other malicious acts against Internet privacy. So, it is best for you not to engage in such tactics. In other words, as an example, do not fall for the alluring email tempting you to click on a link and get redirected somewhere else. It is probably a scam and you will have your data compromised, sooner or later. If you think that a site is worth visiting, do so manually!
- Get Informed: Information is the key, when it comes to such situations. Do not guess; on the contrary, you should keep up to date with the latest news regarding Heartbleed and other security threats online. The great thing is that publicity is enough to educate even somebody without any precedent experience in Internet matters.
- Use PFS: We understand that this is not always available, but still we cannot help but point out the benefits of using PFS (perfect forward secrecy) as your encryption default. This will secure your data sharing and immunize your computer.
These are the basic guidelines that will help you stay out of trouble and reducing the risk of having your personal information compromised in the long run, due to the Heartbleed attacks. Apparently, this is a problem that has affected the web at a huge scale globally and cannot go away overnight. What we need to do, besides congratulating experts in Codenomicon and Google Security for their discovery, is to follow the advice pointed out above.
Instead of overreacting and thinking that privacy is long gone on the Internet, it is a lot better to prepare for another wave before it comes knocking on our door! This takes ongoing effort and requires your utmost attention – since everything that is valuable deserves it all! Let us know how you stay protected against the menace of Heartbleed attacks, will you?
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