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Heartbleed computer bug threatens the safety of personal info

Vivianne Velasquez/Photographer After the Heartbleed bug was detected in computer servers, web users were advised to change their passwords to their accounts.

Vivianne Velasquez/Photographer
After the Heartbleed bug was detected in computer servers, web users were advised to change their passwords to their accounts.

There is one desire that we have all longed for since our teenage years:  Privacy. Now, how would you feel with a stranger constantly looking over your shoulder as you surf the web?

Or, what if he or she did not have to stand behind you to know what you are currently doing on your laptop? Unfortunately, it is possible, and it could be happening to you.

At the beginning of April, a software that serves as computer protection detected a vulnerability, allowing hackers to enter computer systems. This bug is known as Heartbleed.

The vulnerability in a flawed version of the computer protection server OpenSSL was discovered by researchers working for Google and the security firm Codenomicon.

Adam Ringwood, computer science major, is president of the Information Security and Assurance Club (ISUSec). This on-campus organization was formed for members to study computer security and the process of breaking into different types of computer systems. Ringwood explained the concept of Heartbleed in more specific terms.

“It is not a virus. It only allows bad people to attack web servers and steal sensitive data and passwords,” Ringwood said.

Because of this, it is recommended that everyone change their passwords in order to establish privacy to all of their accounts.

While Heartbleed was just detected in April, it has been estimated that most servers have been vulnerable to the hacking for at least six months. It is possible that the vulnerability has been present for up to two years.

“Although we have seen similar things before, both the scale of the problem and length it was undiscovered are unusual. Most servers were vulnerable to this attack when it was released, and, as such, it could take months to clean up after,” Ringwood said.

However, ever since Heartbleed has been discovered, most servers have been patched, as many users have taken proper precautions to protect their systems, such as changing their passwords.

Although, in order to acquire full protection, one might need to update his or her system with the newest version of OpenSSL that was released April 7. This version of OpenSSL has been verified to no longer be vulnerable to Heartbleed.

There is nothing one can do to prevent the bug from entering his or her system, but by taking the time to change all passwords, one could be disabling hackers from having access to personal accounts.

So, if privacy is something you value, this is a precaution that you should take immediately.

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