On April 7, 2014, a team of security researchers announced the discovery of a critical vulnerability found in certain versions of the widely used OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This bug would become known as “Heartbleed,” and its arrival exposed a serious vulnerability in OpenSSL, allowing attackers to access and read the memory of web servers running vulnerable versions of the library.
These systems, and the information they house, are normally protected by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure data in transit across the Internet, which provides privacy for communications applications on the Web such as e-commerce, banking, email, and instant messaging. However, Heartbleed has been known to compromise these systems and the private keys used to identify service providers and encrypt user authentication and the data they need secured. The result? Attackers can intercept communications data, steal information and passwords, and even impersonate those users’ online identities and illegally use their services.
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