The Heartbleed Bug

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Hey guys, this article is about the latest bug that is found and named to be the “HeartBleed”. This bug leaves around a half a million systems across the web vulnerable.

Wikipedia context says it’s a security bug in the open-source OpenSSL cryptography library, widely used to implement the Internet’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. The fixed version of OpenSSL was released on April 7, 2014 and at the same time the bug was disclosed. It was registered with CVE-2014-0160 ( Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures systems ). Bug was introduced to OpenSSL in December 2011 and has been out in the wild since OpenSSL release 1.0.1 on 14th of March 2012. OpenSSL 1.0.1g released on 7th of April 2014 fixes the bug completely.

This weakness allows stealing the protected information 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).

According to CVE by MITRE Corporation, “The (1) TLS and (2) DTLS implementations in OpenSSL 1.0.1 before 1.0.1g do not properly handle Heartbeat Extension packets, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information from process memory via crafted packets that trigger a buffer over-read, as demonstrated by reading private keys, related to d1_both.c and t1_lib.c, aka the Heartbleed bug”.

 

Bug is in the OpenSSL’s implementation of the TLS/DTLS (transport layer security protocols) heartbeat extension (RFC6520). When it is exploited it leads to the leak of memory contents from the server to the client and from the client to the server.

Heartbleed.com says, most notable software using OpenSSL are the open source web servers like Apache and nginx. The combined market share of just those two out of the active sites on the Internet was over 66% according to Netcraft’s April 2014 Web Server Survey. Furthermore OpenSSL is used to protect for example email servers (SMTP, POP and IMAP protocols), chat servers (XMPP protocol), virtual private networks (SSL VPNs), network appliances and wide variety of client side software. Fortunately many large consumer sites are saved by their conservative choice of SSL/TLS termination equipment and software. Ironically smaller and more progressive services or those who have upgraded to latest and best encryption will be affected most. Furthermore OpenSSL is very popular in client software and somewhat popular in networked appliances which have most inertia in getting updates.

You can notice several pages over web asking you to change the passwords for your accounts that’s because of the disclose of this bug. Companies such as tumblr have already fixed the bug and asks you to change the password for the first login after the disclose.

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Security update by tumblr.com

This bug was independently discovered by a team of security engineers (Riku, Antti and Matti) at Codenomicon and Neel Mehta of Google Security, who first reported it to the OpenSSL team. Codenomicon team found heartbleed bug while improving the SafeGuard feature in Codenomicon’s Defensics security testing tools and reported this bug to the NCSC-FI for vulnerability coordination and reporting to OpenSSL team.

The following picture depicts how the Heartbleed bug is like.

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