Heartbleed: Don’t change your passwords (yet)!
For the two people that have not heard of the OpenSSL Heartbleed-Bug yet, let me start with a short explanation (taken from Heartbleed Bug):
“The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS 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.”
So, is that a serious issue? Hell yeah! To quote Bruce Schneier: ““Catastrophic” is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.“
You will see lots of people recommending you change your passwords on all https:// sites. While that is generally something that you want to do now and then (in my case that would probably require me to take a week off…) _right now_ is probably not the time (yet).
Let me explain:
- If one of the sites you have an account on is affected by the issue, data from the site may have leaked, including session data, cookies or your password (although in the individual case that is highly unlikely). Also, depending on how their landscape has been set up, their SSL keys may have leaked.
- This means that it _might_ be the case that an attacker has the SSL keys and can use it to de-crypt the communication and sniff your new password, too. In order to fix that the site has to request & install a new SSL server certificate _and_ declare the old one invalid by revoking it.
- Unfortunately your browser will ignore that revocation by default. Which is why you should check the settings as described in this blog: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/dealing-with-heartbleed-what-you-need-to-know/P5
- The last step is to wait for the site operator to either notify you or check on the web site that they have done the first two things (patched OpenSSL & renewed SSL certificates) – only then the site can be considered secure again!
While you’re at it, it’s probably also a good idea to renew any oAuth authorizations you may have given on thoise sites (like, allowing your blog to automatically post to Twitter).
This is going to be a loooong painful process for everyone. But there’s no point running in a blind panic now. There’s a lesson in there for everyone, I guess.
Edited on 2014-04-11 to address some of the comments:
There are two main messages I want to get across:
- If you’re changing your password before the site is fixed it won’t hurt. HOWEVER, you will not be safe until it _has_ been fixed, and you will have to change it again then.
- Just as important: STOP RE-USING PASSWORDS ON OTHER SITES! 😎
Other recommended blogs to read while you’re waiting: