NSA May be Exploiting Heartbleed for Network Spying

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Alvin Bryan

Alvin Bryan is a freelance writer and online privacy enthusiast enthusiast currently contributing quality tips and troubleshooting on personal VPN services, and online privacy and security news. You can also find him on Google +.

Heartbleed Network SpyingThe Heartbleed bug has existed for two years, and may have been exploited by the NSA for network spying. Heartbleed is a flaw in the Heartbeat extension that leaves OpenSSL vulnerable. It affects servers, routers and networking equipment. Not all systems and services are vulnerable, but users must check the websites they use to secure their sensitive data.

Heartbleed

Heartbleed so far is known to affect hundreds of thousands of servers that process email and website data. This bug allows hackers to access encrypted data and also the keys used for encryption. This means the hackers can steal any data that companies and users think is secured by encryption. Even with the OpenSSL patch, the keys will grand them access if not updated. For example, they can intercept e-commerce transactions and account logins. Heartbleed basically leaves sensitive credentials and personal information unprotected. And it gives attackers administrative access to communications, server data and users.

OpenSSL Network SpyingHeartbleed is an exploit of the OpenSSL extension Heartbeat. It is called Heartbleed because it can result in server data leaks. This makes it a great bug for network spying. The bug affects private services like the DuckDuckGo search engine and secure accounts like Imgur and OKCupid. It has caused user data and credential leaks from Yahoo and has even compromised the FBI’s website. Hackers can read user cookies and take personal data from them. They can also pretend to be users and the services themselves. This explanation comes from Codenomicon, the security group that uncovered the bug.
look at the cookies of the last person to visit an affected server, revealing personal information.

NSA Network Spying

Website and server encryption is what has been standing between the NSA and users. It is what has prevented network spying by the agency. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden warned about flawed endpoint security. Heartbleed proves him right. The incorrect implementation of connections is what allows Heartbleed to steal data. The encrypted connection between websites and user computers is not handled properly.

Network SpyingMany top security experts agree that Heartbleed is the most terrible SSL bug to date. It has existed for two years and can be used for network spying. Network spying means that the spies can see and read and take everything that passes through the network. One very big concern is if the NSA has been using this bug to steal websites’ private keys. This would have allowed them to very easily take any user data they wanted without any effort whatsoever. Heartbleed gives agencies the perfect opportunity for network spying. And anonymous sources have reported to Bloomberg that the NSA knew about Heartbleed and exploited it. They furthermore deliberately kept it a secret for their own benefit, the sources say. They allowed millions of Internet users to remain in danger of online theft and fraud.

The NSA has been keen on breaking encryption for a long time. They have reportedly spent millions of dollars trying to crack SSL and other crypto technologies. The Heartbleed bug is the equivalent of a miracle for network spying. They did not have to put in any work and it would have allowed them to conduct mass network spying completely undetected. Suspicion runs high that the NSA has been using this bug for network spying. For instance, reports indicated they had broken email and web transaction encryption in September 2013.

NSA GCHQ Network SpyingSome security experts were sceptical as to the NSA’s success in braking web encryption. But news of the NSA and GCHQ working on decrypting traffic in real-time now makes sense. It ties in with Heartbleed as the tool they were using for real-time network spying. Documents also proved that in 2010 the GCHQ was planning to exploit discarded encrypted Internet data. Reports about the NSA’s project Bullrun show that they have the ability to attack HTTPS, VoIP and SSL. Experts felt that the NSA could not have easily cracked SLL. They therefore concluded that the reports were probably inaccurate. But Heartbleed would have made it unnecessary to crack SSL for network spying.

Read More:

Heartbleed is about to get worse, and it will slow the Internet to a crawl
The Heartbleed Bug Goes Even Deeper Than We Realized — Here’s What You Should Do
U.S. Denies It Knew of Heartbleed Bug on the Web
Heartbleed: Hundreds of thousands of servers at risk from catastrophic bug
The Heartbleed situation just got a lot worse. It also affects routers
Heartbleed bug puts the chaotic nature of the Internet under the magnifying glass

One thought on “NSA May be Exploiting Heartbleed for Network Spying

  1. Pingback: EFF Sues NSA | Heartbleed Exploit | Security Flaws | VPN Express

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