Heartbleed: Eight Tips and Strategies for Keeping Safe

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Become a skeptic

The Heartbleed vulnerability is a perfect example of the general trust that can be placed in security technologies such as SSL. People assume that since there is a "lock" visible/present when logging in to their bank account that their information will be protected and transmitted in a secure fashion. For the most part this is true; however, it relies on the trust between the client and the server to establish a secure connection. If that trust is broken, be it by stealing user account information from memory or pilfering the secret keys from the server and intercepting subsequent communications, this fundamentally breaks down the overall security of the Internet as a whole.

Encrypted tunnels can be eavesdropped on with minimal indication that the traffic is being tampered with. For this reason, individuals should be skeptical of what they understand and hold to be true in regards to security in general as there is always someone out there who will find a way to break it down.

One of the most dangerous IT security threats of all time emerged recently – a bug called Heartbleed, which quickly sent shockwaves throughout the entire industry.

As a result, Fortune 500 organizations have been racing to patch their networks before hackers exploit the vulnerability and steal important, private data. Consumers are also encouraged to change their passwords after the systems have been patched.

The vulnerability emerged from the open source software universe. It was exposed to the Internet before a patch was made available, technically making it a zero-day vulnerability, and forcing IT administrators and security analysts to respond as quickly as possible to a previously unknown threat.

OpenSSL provides encryption to services such as SSL and TLS, which are primarily used for securing Web application traffic and reducing the risk of someone stealing credentials or other sensitive data while in transit. The vulnerability arose from a simple programming error in certain releases of the OpenSSL library (1.0.1-1.0.1f). It's technically referred to as a Buffer Over Read in that once the exploit is successful, 64k of the server's memory 'leaks' and can then be viewed by an unauthorized party.

This is significant in that very sensitive data can be contained within the server's memory, which could include anything from usernames, passwords, account numbers, private keys, session tokens and much more. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability is also trivially easy to pull off, opening the door for many unskilled 'hackers' to gain access to sensitive, private information.

What's more, if secret keys are stolen, this can allow the attacker to man-in-the-middle any traffic destined for the application, allowing them to snoop on private and sensitive application interactions such as financial transactions.

Here are eight important tips and strategies to keep data safe, as identified by LogRhythm Labs.

 

Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

 
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