The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability specific to OpenSSL. It’s a dangerous exploit that has made millions of computers vulnerable due to a weakness in the OpenSSL library.
The problem with the Heartbleed vulnerability is that it’s only one of many potential threats in Internet security that have been on the rise in the last few years.
As your local Kansas City web design firm, Fox Web Creations has taken it upon ourselves to examine some of the security risks that have become newsworthy in the recent years. Let’s examine what dangers these security risks pose, and what can be done to fix and prevent them.
The Ongoing Risk of Software Vulnerabilities
The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability in the handshake protocol of OpenSSL. It’s not a fault with the cryptography of SSL or TLS, but a flaw in the library itself that results in 64kb of data being exposed to attackers.
While this amount of data is small, it’s more than enough to contain several keys, which can leave more than enough space for cyber criminals to cause trillions of dollars in damage.
While the Heartbleed vulnerability has put the millions of computers connected to the Internet using OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f at risk, it’s just one of the more recent examples of the many dangers that running a web-based business poses.
Exploits like BEAST are an example of the cryptographic part of SSL being attacked. It represents a major risk for every computer running software that uses the SSL and TLS protocols or that uses the library themselves natively. These types of attacks threaten to leave data transmitted from one computer to the next as vulnerable as if that data wasn’t encrypted in the first place.
Threats can be exponentially worse than the above. BadBIOS is an example of an evolving, polymorphic virus that uses high-frequency sound to transmit from one computer to the next using speakers and microphones. The computers just need to be within communication distance to be infected.
How Can Websites Cope with Security Flaws?
While Fox Web Creations primarily does web design in Kansas City, we believe that it’s important for everyone, not just our clients, to understand how to protect themselves against these kinds of monumental threats to security. To address this, we’ve come up with a short list of things that webmasters can do to help secure their websites against future attacks:
1. Update Regularly
The recent Heartbleed bug has been fixed in the latest revision of OpenSSL. This means that doing something as simple as updating your software, libraries and applying operating system patches will go a long way in keeping yourself protected.
2. Stay Informed
Even before OpenSSL 1.0.1g was released, users were informed that they could prevent the Heartbleed bug by compiling their own version of OpenSSL with the handshake protocol disabled. By staying informed about security vulnerabilities, you can cope with problems before updated software is released.
3. Switching to Different Software
In the case of the Heartbleed bug, switching to another library like WinSSL or DarwinSSL would prove considerably less expensive than dealing with the damage that this bug could have caused. The same principle goes for many other types of security flaws.
Keeping Your Website Secure
Web design in Kansas City is no longer about just promoting creative designs that work for business and organizations. It’s about ensuring that clients understand Internet security principles, which will help both their website and the Internet as a whole to be a safer place. Fox Web Creations is one of the few Kansas City web design firms that promotes this ideology, which is why our clients trust us so much.