Byte Me Article 169 – Bug threatens your online safety

Bug Threatens Your Online Safety

Right now cyclone Ita is the hot topic of conversation if you are talking about the weather.  Just the same can be said of the Heartbleed bug in the IT arena!  The IT world is buzzing with warnings, theories, fixes and other propaganda surrounding this topic – what is it all about?  It all comes down to your money – to Internet sites gaining access to it for legitimate transactions (online shopping) and at the same time keeping those transactions and your credit card details safe from 3rd parties.

First let’s look at some facts.  Nearly 3 billion people use the Internet – yes more than 100 times the entire population of Australia.  Of these Internet users, around 60% of them use online banking and the majority of these users also purchase online using credit cards.  Last year in the US alone there were around $260 billion worth of online credit card sales.  If you can devise a method of gaining access to even a small percentage of these credit cards & if you live in a country that couldn’t care what you do online then you have just struck gold!

2014-04-12 Byte Me Article 169 - Heartbleed Bug

To protect from the above happening all of the banking and Internet retail sites around the globe have employed different forms of security software, which is supposed to keep your keystrokes – your credit card details & personal information safe while shopping on their sites.  It turns out that one of these types of security software has recently been found to have a ‘bug’ in it which allows a certain amount of 3rd party access.

Very few banks and not all online sites have been effected and the ones in question are working quickly to prevent future 3rd party access – buy changing their coding to ‘patch’ the loop hole this bug uses.  So has this already happened to you?  No one really knows – unless you already have unauthorised transactions on your credit card account.  Can this still happen to you?  Quite possibly it can still happen and all Internet sources are suggesting that you at least change the password that you currently use on these sites.  Which sites?

The following web article gives a good list of the sites involved, and even Facebook is among them!  You are best to read this article and if you use the site listed as needing to change your password – then this would be a good idea.

Now – what to really watch out for!!!  When something like this happens it can lead to a secondary event which is much more cataclysmic than the original.  This may be the case here as we will now all get millions of fake emails using the Heartbleed bug as an excuse to get us to log into a supplied link to reset our passwords.  DO NOT ALLOW ANY EMAIL – regardless of what business / bank it says it is from, to prompt you to follow a link in the email to change your passwords.

So what is my overall take on the Heartbleed bug?  I will be quite surprised if anyone reading this article will have been directly affected by the bug.  However, I do expect that many reading this article will themselves be a victim of this secondary event or will at least know someone who is.  Pass this tip on to as many relatives and friends as you can.  While Internet / Email scammers are still profiteering from this activity it will not cease.

Also keep in mind that there may be some phone call versions that try to take advantage of the sudden notoriety of this bug.  Don’t let anyone ever call you to sell you computer help over the phone – they will say that they are from Telstra or Microsoft or send by God himself (none of these will be likely). 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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