In-depth

Heartbleed FUD: scarier than Jedward as triplets?

Davey Winder thinks the fact password reset floodgates are about to open...

As the media, the IT security industry, open source pundits and Joe User alike get swept away by the story so the FUD floodgates have opened. And FUD (that's Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) would be a more unwelcome trio than if Jedward were triplets.

Beyond the fact that the heartbeat function of OpenSSL, which sends a server response to clients letting them know it is in effect alive, is flawed the facts have been in short supply. It should send back the amount of data the client sent. However, thanks to a German software developer working on the open source protocol who forgot to validate a variable containing a length when he added some functionality to OpenSSL in 2011, a hacker could actually request data from the server memory up to 65,536 bytes in length.

I didn't think I would end this piece with a Celine Dion reference, but I imagine the Heartbleed FUD will go on...

The bad guys could make such requests over and over again and this could include login credentials and private SSL certificates.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

I know this, for a fact, because I have sat back and waited for the evidence to emerge. If I had jerked my knee a week ago I, like many security 'experts' would be reassuring clients that private encryption keys were safe and extensive testing had shown this to pretty much be the case. Cloudflare were so sure that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to do so that the company issued a challenge to white hats to have a go at a vulnerable server set up for the purpose of testing. It took just hours for a couple of them to succeed. Cloudflare responded by changing its reissue and revoke advice from a medium to high priority.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/security/cyber-security/354468/if-not-passwords-then-what
cyber security

If not passwords then what?

8 Jan 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/31772/gdpr-and-brexit-how-will-one-affect-the-other
Policy & legislation

GDPR and Brexit: How will one affect the other?

9 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020