'Heartbleed' computer bug threat spreads to firewalls and beyond

Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:04pm EDT
 
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By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hackers could crack email systems, security firewalls and possibly mobile phones through the "Heartbleed" computer bug, according to security experts who warned on Thursday that the risks extended beyond just Internet Web servers.

The widespread bug surfaced late on Monday, when it was disclosed that a pernicious flaw in a widely used Web encryption program known as OpenSSL opened hundreds of thousands of websites to data theft. Developers rushed out patches to fix affected web servers when they disclosed the problem, which affected companies from Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc to Yahoo Inc.

Yet pieces of vulnerable OpenSSL code can be found inside plenty of other places, including email servers, ordinary PCs, phones and even security products such as firewalls. Developers of those products are scrambling to figure out whether they are vulnerable and patch them to keep their users safe.

"I am waiting for a patch," said Jeff Moss, a security adviser to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and founder of the Def Con hacking conference. Def Con's network uses an enterprise firewall from McAfee, which is owned by Intel Corp's security division.

He said he was frustrated because people had figured out that his email and Web traffic is vulnerable and posted about it on the Internet - but he can't take steps to remedy the problem until Intel releases a patch.

"Everybody is going through the exact same thing I'm going through, if you are going through a vendor fix," he said.

An Intel spokesman declined comment, referring Reuters to a company blog that said: "We understand this is a difficult time for businesses as they scramble to update multiple products from multiple vendors in the coming weeks. The McAfee products that use affected versions of OpenSSL are vulnerable and need to be updated."

It did not say when they would be released.   Continued...

 
File picture illustration of the word 'password' pictured through a magnifying glass on a computer screen, taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/Files