The Heartbleed Bug - All you need to know about it
Last week websites running OpenSSL encryption, such as Pinterest, USMagazine.com, NASA, and Creative Commons were exposed to a major security bug called Heartbleed Bug. SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/ Transfer Layer Security) provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).
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.
What makes this bug more serious? Bugs in single software or library come and go and are fixed by new versions. However this bug has left large amount of private keys and other secrets exposed to the Internet. Considering the long exposure, ease of exploitation and attacks leaving no trace this exposure should be taken seriously.
And while most security experts advise that you always use websites and services offering SSL security encryption whenever possible, the Heartbleed bug has the ability to allow malicious operators to defeat this security layer and capture passwords as well as forge authentication cookies and obtain other private information.
A security patch for the bug was last week, but many websites are still playing catch up. That's why websites like the Tor Project are — in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way — only advising that you stay off the Internet this week if you really care about your security.
How can you be affected
You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet. Your popular social site, your company's site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Many of online services use TLS to both to identify themselves to you and to protect your privacy and transactions. You might have networked appliances with logins secured by this buggy implementation of the TLS. Furthermore you might have client side software on your computer that could expose the data from your computer if you connect to compromised services.
Things you can do to protect yourself
1) Wait for an official announcement from any secure website or service that you normally use regarding a security update.
2) After you've confirmed that the site or service has installed a security update, change your passwords.
3) Keep an eye on any of your sensitive online accounts (banking, webmail) for suspicious activity.
In the meantime, while websites are installing the latest version of OpenSSL to fix the bug, it would be a good idea to wait for confirmed updates on your favorite websites and services and then change your password, just to be as safe as possible.
Source - http://heartbleed.com/