'Heartbleed' bug in web technology seen as major threat to user data

BOSTON Wed Apr 9, 2014 6:33am IST

An analyst looks at code in the malware lab of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/Files

An analyst looks at code in the malware lab of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

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 (GOOG.O) 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 (YHOO.O) 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)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Smartphone Wars

Reuters Showcase

Cloud Solutions

Cloud Solutions

Tencent teams up with IBM to offer business software over the cloud.  Full Article 

Cook Comes Out

Cook Comes Out

Apple's Cook: "I'm proud to be gay".  Full Article | Related Story 

 Rubin Quits

Rubin Quits

Android co-founder Andy Rubin to leave Google.  Full Article 

Glowing Flower

Glowing Flower

Video: Genetically altered glowing flower on display in Tokyo.  Video 

Web Fast Lanes

Web Fast Lanes

Comcast, AT&T seek to reassure on no plans for Internet 'fast lanes'.  Full Article 

Tech Reshuffle

Tech Reshuffle

Twitter product chief sidelined as user engagement slides.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage