Updated: 04/09/2014 11:47 PM
Created: 04/09/2014 11:07 PM WDIO.com
A huge gap in the security software used by some of the biggest Internet companies has been found. It has been dubbed the 'Heartbleed' bug, and because of it, the private information of millions was sitting exposed.
You may recognize the little padlock in the top left corner of some websites you visit. It is supposed to designate the site as secure, but for the last two years that has not been case.
"The people that wrote this software for this part of that network communication forgot to check a part of that message," Pete Willemsen explained, an associate professor in UMD's computer science department.
Think of it like this: when your computer connects to a server it sends out a ping known as a heartbeat to check for a secure connection. But with this hole in the code, a hacker could send out a secret heartbeat and retrieve any information that is still in memory — that is where the name "Heartbleed" comes from.
"So, that could include your user names and your passwords," said Mark Lanterman, CEO of computer analysis company Computer Forensic Services. "In our testing it returned my VPN credentials. This is very, very serious."
Experts are advising people to consider changing all their online passwords.
But changing passwords will not do any good until the services install the recently-released software to fix the problem.
"This vulnerability, or bug, is really unfortunate in the sense that it sits with software on the servers... on the machines that you typically would connect to," said Prof. Willemsen. "They are responsible for updating that software."
Lanterman adds that "Amazon, your banks, any server, 66 percent of the web servers on the Internet are vulnerable to this attack."
Cyber security firm LastPass has created a search engine to determine if a website you use may have been affected. Find it by clicking here.
Ebola Worker with Northland Ties Killed in Guinea
A pastor and clinic administrator with ties in Duluth was killed in Guinea last week. Moses Mamy was part of an Ebola awareness team traveling from village to village. When they reached Womey last Tuesday, residents attacked and killed Mamy and seven others. Mamy's friends say he will be remembered for "his generous heart."
Bayfield Apple Festival Looking for Volunteers
This year's festival starts Friday, Oct. 3 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 5. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help out throughout the weekend.
US and Partners Begin Airstrikes in Syria
The aerial effort against the extremist group Islamic State has been expanded from Iraq into Syria. The Pentagon says the operation involves warplanes from the U.S. and its partners.
Saint Louis County Board Forum Gets Heated
There were some tense moments during a candidate forum for the Saint Louis County Board Monday. Two sets of candidates answered some tough questions during the forum set up by the Duluth News Tribune. In District One, Jim Booth is challenging incumbent Frank Jewell. Former state legislator Tom Rukavina and Christina Hujanen are fighting for the District Four seat.
Duluth City Council Approves Maximum Tax Levy Increase
Duluth City councilors voted 5-4 to approve a maximum tax levy increase for 2015, but not without making some changes first.