How Heartbleed Is Changing Security

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Is this the end of the password as we know it?

When the Heartbleed bug was first announced, the rallying cry of computer users everywhere was “I must change every single password!” The chance that usernames and passwords could be compromised was the issue that resonated with computer users. But as we tried to figure out which passwords to change, the general question arose: Will Heartbleed finally make us rethink passwords as we know them?

But the big story with Heartbleed isn't that it's just a tedious password issue -- it's that for a significant portion of the Internet, there has been a long-term and foundational failure in the privacy of communication, said Geoff Webb, senior director of Solution Strategy at NetIQ:

It's very, very ugly. Yes -- we need to worry about passwords, but we really need to worry about what part of our private communications for the past couple of years have been exposed.

Still, Webb and other experts don’t believe that Heartbleed will be the end of passwords. Yes, it showed why passwords aren’t the best tool for authentication, but this is the method almost every company relies on. Will there eventually be a push to get rid of passwords? Yes, but Heartbleed does not appear to be that push.

Few cybersecurity issues have people talking, and worried, like the Heartbleed bug.

As Chester Wisniewski explained in a CNN article:

The bug itself is a simple, honest mistake in the computer code that was intended to reduce the computing resources encryption consumes. The problem is that this bug made it past the quality assurance tests and has been deployed across the Internet for nearly two years.

Heartbleed hit in ways that we once naturally assumed were secure. It affected OpenSSL, an open source code, and the open source community has long prided itself on its high levels of security. And it affected encryption, which every security expert recommends when asked how to best transmit data. Mike Gross, director of professional services and risk management at 41st Parameter, stated:

Heartbleed exposed a major gap in security that will have significant downstream effects on consumers for years. While the Heartbleed flaw itself had a relatively simple fix on the surface and consumer-facing sites and Web portals, the big unknown is whether all known servers and mobile apps affected by the flaw have been patched across large and complex enterprises. That's a very difficult undertaking and a single gap could expose consumers to the same data compromise risk and organizations to a repeat of the recent scramble.

What is most worrisome to many computer users is the widespread reach of Heartbleed. This isn’t a simple breach of one company or a vulnerability that has touched one software application. It affects the financial industry, small businesses, firewalls, printers, machinery in power plants. The list is seemingly endless.

How will enterprise security react to Heartbleed? Is this the push needed to finally re-evaluate passwords and other ineffective methods of network security?

 

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

 
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