Home Business IT Security New 'Heartbleed' bug affects encrypted communications

New 'Heartbleed' bug affects encrypted communications Featured

Subscribe now and get the news that matters to your industry.

* Your Email Address:
* First Name:
* Last Name:
Industry:
Job Function:
Australian State:
Country:
Email marketing by Interspire
weebly statistics

A potentially devastating flaw in in OpenSSL, which is used to protect and secure millions of websites, has been uncovered by security researchers.

The flaw, known as “Heartbleed,” is contained in several versions of OpenSSL, a cryptographic library that enables SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Security Layer) encryption.

The flaw, which was introduced in December 2011, has thankfully been fixed in OpenSSL 1.0.1g, which was released on Monday.

More information about the vulnerability is available at a website here, and the vulnerable versions of OpenSSL are 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f with two exceptions: OpenSSL 1.0.0 branch and 0.9.8.

The flaw would potentially allow attackers to monitor all information that flows between a user and a Web service, and could even decrypt past traffic they’ve collected, according to experts.

The bug was discovered by three researchers from security firm Codenomicon and Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Google.

“This allows attackers to eavesdrop communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users,” the researchers wrote.

Operating systems that may have a vulnerable version of OpenSSL include Debian Wheezy, Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS, CentOS 6.5, Fedora 18, OpenBSD 5.3, FreeBSD 8.4, NetBSD 5.0.2 and OpenSUSE 12.2, they wrote.

The programming mistake has left large amounts of private keys and and other secrets exposed to the Internet for a long time, according to Finnish security consultants Codenomicon. Attackers can read the memory of vulnerable systems in 64 kilobyte chunks, until they have the required information to succesfully compromise them.

"You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly," the researchers said.

"OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet.,

"Your popular social site, your company's site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Many of online services use TLS to both to identify themselves to you and to protect your privacy and transactions. You might have networked appliances with logins secured by this buggy implementation of the TLS. Furthermore you might have client side software on your computer that could expose the data from your computer if you connect to compromised services."

The researchers said the problem, CVE-2014-0160, is a missing bounds check in the handling of the TLS heartbeat extension (hence the name 'Heartbleed'), which can then be used to view 64K of memory on a connected server. This allows attackers to obtain the private keys used to encrypt traffic. 

The attackers can only access 64K of memory during one iteration of the attack, but the attackers can “keep reconnecting or during an active TLS connection keep requesting arbitrary number of 64 kilobyte chunks of memory content until enough secrets are revealed,” the website said.

The researchers advised administrators to apply the up-to-date version of SSL, revoke any compromised keys and reissue new keys.

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST BANDWIDTH BANDITS!

Don't let traffic bottlenecks slow your network or business-critical apps to a grinding halt. With SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack (BAP) you can gain unified network availability, performance, bandwidth, and traffic monitoring together in a single pane of glass.

With SolarWinds BAP, you'll be able to:

• Detect, diagnose, and resolve network performance issues

• Track response time, availability, and uptime of routers, switches, and other SNMP-enabled devices

• Monitor and analyze network bandwidth performance and traffic patterns.

• Identify bandwidth hogs and see which applications are using the most bandwidth

• Graphically display performance metrics in real time via dynamic interactive maps

Download FREE 30 Day Trial!

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD!

ITWIRE SERIES - IS YOUR BACKUP STRATEGY COSTING YOU CLIENTS?

Where are your clients backing up to right now?

Is your DR strategy as advanced as the rest of your service portfolio?

What areas of your business could be improved if you outsourced your backups to a trusted source?

Read the industry whitepaper and discover where to turn to for managed backup

FIND OUT MORE!

David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. He also writes for Junkee and Fasterlouder. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

Connect