More Heartbleed Fallout: 'Major' Internet Disruptions

Security-certificate issue may seriously slow down browsing
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2014 10:04 AM CDT
More Heartbleed Fallout: 'Major' Internet Disruptions
Companies are preparing to address the Heartbleed bug.   (Shutterstock)

The Heartbleed security flaw could pose a major nuisance even if your data isn't compromised, as hundreds of thousands of websites scramble to fix the problem—causing what the Washington Post predicts will be "major disruptions" to Internet service. At issue are sites' security certificates, or identification information proving they are who they say they are. A Web company launched a challenge over the weekend to see if hackers, using a dummy server, could obtain these certificates and create fake versions of real sites; turns out, the hackers were able to do it.

Now, the 500,000 sites affected by the Heartbleed bug need to replace their security certificates. When you visit a site, your browser is checked against invalidated certificates to ensure your safety; now, there will be so many invalid certificates that web users could see a serious slowdown. The process is comparable to having to download a half-hour video in order to see one web page, the Post notes. Meanwhile, hackers are already taking advantage of the bug: They've pulled 900 people's private data from Canada's tax-collection agency, Reuters reports; the site had previously been shut down over security concerns. (More Heartbleed stories.)

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