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As a result, all manner of personal and financial information could be at risk. The Heartbleed SSL vulnerability is making headlines around the world – and misreporting in the press and online is causing confusion. How can you stay safe and ensue your personal details aren’t leaked?
What Is Heartbleed? Well, It’s Not A Virus
You’ve probably heard Heartbleed described as a virus. This isn’t the case: in fact, it is a weakness, a vulnerability in servers running OpenSSL. This is the open source implementation of SSL and TLS, the protocols used for secure connections – those that begin https:// rather than the usual http://.
This vulnerability – more commonly referred to as a bug – essentially creates a hole through which hackers can circumvent the encryption. Confirmed on April 7th 2014, it occurs in all versions of OpenSSL except 1.0.1g. The threat is limited to sites running OpenSSL – other SSL and TLS libraries are available, but OpenSSL is employed widely on servers around the web. A fix for the problem exists, but this may not have been applied to the websites you regularly visit for secure activities. These might be online shopping, gambling and other adult themed websites or even social networking.
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