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Online ‘Heartbleed’ Bug Endangers Online Privacy and Fosters Potential Cyberbullies

www.endcyberbullying.org

Online privacy is oftentimes the only thing standing between a cyberbully and an innocent victim. As always, internet users should take precautions and adhere to methods for protecting themselves online.

This privacy has been put at risk with the recent discovery of a bug in widely used Web encryption technology. ‘Heartbleed,’ as it has been called, makes data on some of the internet’s major websites vulnerable to theft by hackers. This data may include passwords, banking information, healthcare data, and more.

The U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security has addressed the issue and warned companies to review their servers for a vulnerable versions of software known as OpenSSL. This weakness could allow potential attackers to access the company’s data, including passwords and other valuable information.

“If a website is vulnerable, I could see things like your password, banking information and healthcare data, which you were under the impression you were sending securely to your website,” commented Michael Coates, director of product security for Shape Security.

Possible changes for fixing the bug may exist if both the server and the user take action. “Service providers and users have to install the fix as it becomes available for the operating systems, networked appliances and software they use,” according to heartbleed.com.

According to Chris Eng, vice president of research with software security firm Veracode, estimated that hundreds of thousands of online servers would need to be patched to prevent hackers from exploiting the vulnerability.

The issue of online privacy has always been of large concern. Without online privacy, internet users are exposed to many threats, with cyberbullying among the most prominent ones. Criminals may be able to retrieve personal information, increasing their potential to attack internet users. It is important that we take precautions until ‘Heartbleed’ has been gotten under control to maintain our online privacy and protect ourselves from potential harassers.