A software bug could compromise data passed through millions of web servers, researchers have said.
The bug has been found in OpenSSL, which protects sensitive data and is used in instant messaging, email, operating systems and servers.
It is unclear as to how it has been exploited to such a large extent, because there is no way to trace the attacks.
Much of the World Wide Web could be a target, with OpenSSL being such a popular server program; Netcraft, a net monitoring company, has said that 500,000 of the Internet’s secure servers run it.
A large number of companies were trying to apply the relevant patches, and others shut down their services while applying fixes.
The OpenSSL bug was found by researchers employed both by security company Codenomicon and Google.
The researchers wrote in a blog that the vulnerability enables anyone to interpret chunks of data in servers that are supposedly protected by OpenSSL. Attackers can then access secret keys that scramble data whilst it travels from server to user and back again.
It may be the case that updating OpenSSL to a safer version may be needed to ensure full protection, in addition to acquiring new encryption keys and security certificates. Tools have been created by security researchers so that people are able to check their system and establish if their OpenSSL version is vulnerable to the bug.
Many businesses will be unaware that such a threat exists, and only by having the necessary security staff in place will bugs be identified and acted upon. It is a great opportunity for those seeking cyber security jobs to make business owners aware of such issues, and how they can help to combat them and maintain the security of company data.
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