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So named by researchers who discovered the bug plaguing critical online infrastructure, Heartbleed is a security flaw that has struck the very vital organs of the Internet. Experts believe the security flaw, which was only recently found but has been around for two years, affects nearly every online server and up to 60 percent of the Internet.
To understand the nature of the flaw is to understand its gravity:
Heartbleed affects online security protocol OpenSSL (Secure Sockets Layer). When you log into a website, your login credentials are sent to that website’s server. But in most cases those credentials are encrypted using SSL (OpenSSL among the most highly used encryption tool). Heartbleed has for two years enabled hackers to get anything a user sends to an affected site’s server, including emails, instant messages, passwords and documents.
Not only has Heartbleed infected the Internet for years, there’s little we can do about it — our online lives structured as they are by SSLs. As HuffPo reported:
So what can users do? Matthew Prince, CEO of content delivery network Cloudflare, one of the first businesses to be notified of the bug, told The Huffington Post that sadly, there’s not much normal netizens can do to protect themselves. “When you finish using a website, make sure to actively log out,” Prince advised — that makes it less likely that a hacker exploiting Heartbleed will be able to take your personal information.
Prince also put in a word of comfort: “Heartbleed is so serious — it’s such a big, bad event — that almost every major service is scrambling to clean it up as quickly as possible.” He estimated that most currently vulnerable websites will be “patched” by the end of the week.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.
Like little stars.
World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.
So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).
My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.
High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.
Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.
New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.
Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.
Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.
Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.
Really does taste like pineapple.