What is "Heartbleed"? Must-see video explains the Internet's terrifying new security breach

This security bug has the tech world freaked -- and you should be too!

Published April 9, 2014 3:54PM (EDT)


On Monday, a major Internet security flaw was discovered and publicly disclosed. The technical defect, deemed "Heartbleed," has been around for nearly two years, and affects up to 6o percent of the Internet. The flaw is in the online security protocol OpenSSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

The video below was made by Zulfikar Ramzan, an MIT Ph.D. and CTO of cloud security firm Elastica. It explains the terrifying bug that leaves your data exposed. Be warned there is a fair amount of technical jargon, but it is well worth the watch to understand why this security breach is so serious.

Users may not even realize they are using OpenSSL. (For astute observers it is when websites use the "https" address, and a lock appears next to the address.) OpenSSL encrypts your data, including passwords, personal information, when it travels to a server. This is supposed to keep hacker eavesdropping out.

According to Heartbleed.com:

"The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users."

h/t TechCrunch, Heartbleed.com

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Bug Computers Data Hacking Heartbleed Security Breach Technology Video