'Heartbleed' bug exposes internet transactions - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

'Heartbleed' bug exposes internet transactions

Posted:
Amarillo, TX - An internet bug known as 'heartbleed' has exposed many popular websites, leaving users at risk of compromised personal information.

The heartbleed bug attacked the software that protects personal information stored on websites and gave hackers open access. The bug infiltrated and decoded the encryption software used by many websites called OpenSSL. If a website has a green lock icon in the address bar, it uses the software.

"OpenSSL is the communication between the computer and a server on the internet and keeps that connection private and secured," explained All Star Computer owner Andrew Brandt. "It does so by a 128 bit encryption. The keys to that encryption are the crown jewel of the internet and it's been hacked."

This means usernames and passwords on popular sites like Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail and online banking sites are all at risk. Many of the affected websites already updated software to protect users against the bug. Amarillo National Bank said it updated their system Thursday to keep their customers safe.

Brandt said the best thing users can do now to protect themselves is to change their passwords. "The first thing and the biggest thing is to change your passwords. Especially to financial institutions and anything you use online for forms of payment. And don't use the same password for multiple sites. These hackers are getting this information and if they can hack into one system using OpenSSL and get a username and password, well they can try that same combination for other sites."

Websites that have not updated the OpenSSL software are still vulnerable and changing your password won't help.

For a list of websites possibly affected, click here.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10