There’s talk about a new bug that threatens the security of your personal information online, and we’re going to give you everything you need to know about Heartbleed and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is Heartbleed?
Example: You shop for a new camera online and enter the necessary information for billing and shipping. The data and the shopping session is scrambled (encrypted) to protect you. You trust that the transaction remains secure from beginning to end, but is it? Heartbleed retains your information in an unsecured form and thus permits unscrupulous actors to use for it for identity theft or to make credit card purchases.
How Does Heartbleed Affect You?
The bug may compromise your:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license
- Bank and Financial information
- Health records
- Passport Information
- Credit Card number
All of the above have the potential to affect your credit scores, employment and housing opportunities and more. In a worst case scenario you could even be incarcerated if someone uses the information to commit a serious crime.
What Could You Have Done?
There wasn’t anything practical you could’ve done to avoid the Heartbleed bug from collecting your information if you’re an online shopper or if you pay bills online. To avoid this bug your only option would’ve been to shop in-person using cash because even an in-store purchase using your debit/credit card could not guarantee the integrity of the transaction.
What Can You Do Now?
First, check your providers’ website (bank, online store, email account, etc.) by clicking here or here to ensure they have corrected the problem. Secondly, after verifying the Heartbleed bug is fixed, you should periodically change your password and never use the same password for more than one site.
Celestine Daniels is a I.T. professional with a proactive mindset and experience in networking, systems design, programming, training, and information systems security.
Aubrey Phillips has spent the better part of two decades developing and managing information systems for small and medium sized businesses.