Two months on, the Heartbleed vulnerability is still worth talking about. One thing that needs to be discussed is that you and I are partly to blame for the problems Heartbleed caused. But we can also talk about some common-sense ways we can help protect ourselves in the future.
In order to truly understand Heartbleed, let us first define what a vulnerability is, according to the ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association). ISACA defines vulnerability as "a weakness in the design, implementation, operation or internal control of a process that could expose the system to adverse threats from threat events." In people terms, it is essentially a weakness in some process that could lead to bad things happening. Follow? Great!
Next, what is Heartbleed? On April 7, a vulnerability was identified in some implementations of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, called OpenSSL. An SSL protocol establishes an encrypted link between a Web server and your Internet browser. Not only does SSL encrypt your online communications, protecting your username and password, but it also helps ensure that you are connecting to legitimate websites.
So why should you care about Heartbleed? First of all, the name alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of luddites and technophiles alike. It's terrifying, frankly. I shiver just typing the word, and I am clutching my chest as I write this. True story.
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