This past week, SUNY Oneonta sent out a campus-wide email warning students about the newly discovered Heartbleed Bug which has infected the Internet due to a flaw in many website’s encryption systems. Chief Information Officer Karlis Kaugars warned that students’ Google accounts may be vulnerable to hackers and advised students to change their passwords. What prompted SUNY Oneonta to send out such an email was the April 7 announcement from security researchers which stated that the vast majority of peoples’ passwords, usernames, search histories and even credit card numbers may no longer be secure.
The Heartbleed Bug was discovered within the past few weeks by the security firm Codenomicon. According to their report, the virus allows hackers to access the encrypted information that a website stores for its users. Although almost every single major website uses this encryption system and it was believed to be secure, Codenomicon’s report states that the Heartbleed Bug has been allowing hackers to access this encrypted information for well over two years, potentially impacting millions of Internet users.
One study carried out by the Netcraft web server survey analyzed 959,000,000 websites and determined that 66 percent were vulnerable to the Heartbleed Bug. To make matters worse, many popular websites fall within that percentage. This includes Google, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Soundcloud and Etsy.
With so many highly trafficked websites compromised, many are calling the Heartbleed Bug one of the worst computer breeches in recent memory.
The discovery of the Heartbleed Bug has prompted numerous websites to strengthen their security. With so much damage already done, the best people can do now is change their passwords and usernames in order to ensure that their own information cannot be used against them.
Unlike many other headlines involving hackers and cyber espionage, the Heartbleed Bug has affected millions of average people. With the security of peoples’ personal information in question, one must remain aware that the Internet is relatively new and still not a completely understood aspect of modern life, with many new bugs and viruses being discovered daily. Therefore, people must be proactive in ensuring their personal privacy by frequently changing their online passwords and being selective of what they’re willing to store on their computers and put in the hands of websites. It is only a matter of time before another computer bug is discovered.