Heartbleed Bug May Grant Hackers Access To Personal Information

Published 04/15 2014 05:59PM

Updated 04/15 2014 06:53PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- The Heartbleed Bug is the latest computer security scare.  This software information leak may grant hackers access to your banking information, e-mail accounts, and other personal information.

Its name comes from the term, "heartbeat extension."  This is used in software to check that a connection between two servers is live.  Unfortunately, there is a flaw in this heartbeat code.  For us, this means our personal information may be at risk.

"For the individual worst case scenario is using a small town bank that does not fix this vulnerability, logging into the banking site and the attacker getting the keys to that encrypted connection and stealing the password.  That would give them access to all their accounts," said Will Spencer, Missouri State University's Information Security Officer.

Spencer said about 30% of internet sites still had this vulnerability as of last week. 

"We see a lot of smaller organizations who do not have security staff and do not have resources to patch this bug," said Spencer.

Your personal information on these websites is accessible to hackers. 

"They can compromise information which means take your personal identity, credit card information, whatever they can find," explained Spencer.

Many big companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Springfield City Utilities have fixed the problem.

Joel Alexander with Springfield City Utilities confirmed this.  

"Almost immediately from finding out that there might be an issue with this software problem we took the necessary steps to be proactive with it," explained Alexander.

"There are resources on the internet where you can check on a website and they can tell you if it's been fixed," said Spencer.

You can go to this "Heartbleed Test" website to see if a site you use is affected by the bug.  Just type the name of the site and you'll see if it's safe.

If you use Gmail, Yahoo, or Facebook and you are wondering if you should change your password, Spencer said, "Absolutely! It's never a bad idea to change your password."

Spencer said no individuals have lost information at this time.  However, the problem is that we cannot tell right away if hackers have hold of our information. 

"And we're never going to know until it's too late," added Spencer.

Spencer also recommended logging out of websites every time you are finished.  He said don't be surprised if you see an email from a company like Google or Yahoo requesting that you change your password.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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