How Heartbleed Is Changing Security

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Heartbleed, open source and security

Has Heartbleed changed attitudes toward open source protocols and security? Those within the open source community are still strong supporters, and there are those who believe that, more often than not, the larger the number of people looking at and improving code, the better the chance a vulnerability will be caught before it does damage. There are a lot of positives to open source – rapid development of new applications and thousands of people testing code.

And bugs happen. They certainly happen in closed sources, so it is not surprising that they will happen in open source.

However, there will likely be a greater push for more vigilance. New code should be better scrutinized, especially in critical security areas like OpenSSL. As Steve Pate said:

Better penetration testing tools will be developed and larger organizations are likely to hire more security experts to ensure that the software they develop and the third-party products they integrate are thoroughly tested and reviewed.

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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