What is the Heartbleed bug and should you be worried?
First off: Don’t Panic!
I am not even going to pretend that I understand what this bug is or how it works, however I can say that the experts claim it is one of the worst bugs ever seen on the net and that it could potentially infect more than 500,000 web sites.
Now before you do start panicking let’s get a couple of facts straight.
This is not a virus, it does not infect your PC and therefore your anti-virus does not and cannot protect you against it. Also, because it attacks web servers and not your computers this is an issue with all your devices: Windows PCs, Apple Macs and even your portable devices such as smartphones and tablets.
(For those of a technical bent Heartbleed is a security vulnerability in OpenSSL software on web servers that lets a hacker access the memory of these servers.)
What it has actually done is attack thousands of web servers from social media sites to bank sites and opened “holes” in their security systems which could allow criminal elements to access private data such as account details, passwords and credit card details stored on these websites.
Most sites have already patched the vulnerability and many will send you email recommending that you change your password.
A word of caution here, do not click on links in emails suggesting you change your password as this could be a phishing email trying to get more passwords from you! Instead go directly to the website, login the normal way, change your password and immediately log out.
If you use a password manager such as Lastpass they may have a tool to help you check all your sites saved in the manager (Lastpass does). This could greatly simplify your job if like me you have hundreds of sites and accounts! Sites such as the one below also have tools or links to assist you.
See this article for more information:
Meanwhile, make sure that your Operating System is up to date with all the security and critical patches and that your anti-virus is also up to date and functioning correctly. This won’t combat the Heartbleed bug but it is basic PC security that you should be doing on a regular basis anyway.
I will continue to monitor the situation and publish any further information here or via a newsletter/email and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.