• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 15s

Changing password after “heartbleed” bug? Here’s what you need to know

By Chenda Ngak/CBS News 2:25 PM April 10, 2014
The “heartbleed” bug may have put millions of passwords, credit card details and sensitive information in the hands of nefarious hackers. Before you change your passwords, security experts suggest making sure the website is now secure, and provide tips for creating stronger passwords.Heartbleed is a bug that made services using OpenSSL encryption vulnerable to attack, including websites, instant messaging software and email accounts. It’s worth noting that not all website are affected by the heartbleed bug.According to data analysis website Datanyze, 17.3 percent of the top 1 million websites ranked by Alexa.com may have been exposed to heartbleed. Internet data company Netcraft reports that a recent survey found 17.5 percent of website that use secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. For many, it’s unclear which websites are still at risk, so it’s worth taking extra precaution.

“If the website is still vulnerable, changing the password will not accomplish anything. The hacker could potentially view your newly created password, too,” Dodi Glenn, director of security intelligence at ThreatTrack Security, told CBS News via email.

Glenn says there are websites to check whether or not a website has been patched, and suggested filippo.io/heartbleed or ssllabs.com/ssltest. Password management software maker LastPass also has a service that checks if a website is vulnerable. LastPass recommends users of websites like Yahoo, GitHub and Fitbit update their passwords right away. But if you have a Netflix, Airbnb or Quora account, wait to update.

Trend Micro vice president of security research Rik Ferguson told CBS News via email that if you update too early, not only are you putting your new password at risk, you could be exposing additional data that is requested during the password reset process. Ferguson suggests avoiding services that are not yet patched, until a security fix is released.

“If it is not possible to avoid logging in to a service then continue as normal, changing your password will not bring you any extra security until the server is patched,” Ferguson said.

But if you have the same password for several different websites or services, then changing your password right away. Ferguson adds, “any exposure of a shared password may have wider consequences.”

Ferguson says you should change your password once you’ve been notified or discover that a server has had a security update. He suggested avoiding these big mistakes when creating a new password: using words from the dictionary, names, dates of birth, ages, telephone numbers, pet’s names, football teams or anything related to you.

Don’t use the same password for different services and never share your password. Even words using numbers in place of letters is not secure enough. Ferguson says a word like “P455w0rd” can be cracked within minutes.

Ferguson shared an example of five steps for creating a more secure password.

1. Think of a phrase you can easily remember, for example:

“Motley Crue and Adam and the Ants were the soundtrack of my youth.”

2. Take the initial letter of each of those words:

MCAAATAWTSOMY

3. This will be the basis of the password, but we now need to make sure we use upper and lower case characters, numbers and “special characters” like !$&+ for example, let’s change cases first:

MCaAatAwtSomY

4. Now change some of those letters for numbers, maybe the letter O to a zero

MCaAatAwtS0mY

5. Now add the special characters, I’ll change the “and” into + and &

MC+A&tAwtS0mY

Ferguson suggests creating variations of the password for different websites, like adding the first and last letter of a website name at the beginning or end of a password. He adds that users also need to be aware of phishing scams that attempt to lure people to fake websites.

Mandiant security security expert William Ballenthin told CBS News in an interview that heartbleed compromises past and future communications with a server, like banking or email transactions. He adds that this bug has been “in the wild” for about two years, and was only recently discovered. At this point not much can be done about the past.

But Ballenthin says major websites like Google, Amazon and Yahoo have identified the issues and released a fix. According to tech website Mashable, several major banks are not affected because they do not use OpenSSL encryption software. The website released a list of major sites that were infected by the heartbleed bug and have since been updated, including Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Gmail, Yahoo, Amazon and Dropbox.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • Utah man indicted in death of wife on Alaska cruise

    by Associated Press on Aug 17, 17:21

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A Utah man accused of killing his wife on a cruise to Alaska has been indicted on a murder count. Kenneth Manzanares was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in the death of Kristy Manzanares. The indictment was made public Thursday. Kristy Manzanares was found dead in a blood-splattered cabin […]

  • News

    Barcelona terror attack: Several dead in shootout with Spanish police in Cambrils

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 16:40

    CAMBRILS, Spain — Police in Spain say they have shot and killed several people south of Barcelona while carrying out an operation in response to a terrorist attack. The regional police for the Catalonia region said on Twitter early Friday that officers are in Cambrils, a seaside resort town 62 miles from Barcelona. According to […]

  • Authorities investigating incident at Alaska prison

    by Associated Press on Aug 17, 16:25

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) – Authorities are investigating an incident at a prison in one of Alaska’s largest cities that a state corrections spokeswoman says resulted in minor damages to the facility. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports local police and the Alaska State Troopers set up a perimeter outside of the Fairbanks Correctional Center during the […]

  • Lifestyle

    Nokia finally has a flagship Android phone and it’s beautiful

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 16:07

    At last, Nokia has a true flagship Android phone to get excited about. It’s called the Nokia 8 and unlike Nokia’s existing Androids — the 3, 5 and 6 — this one is a real powerhouse. At its core is a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. I’ve already run some benchmark […]

  • News

    Barcelona terror attack: At least 13 dead after van barrels into pedestrians

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 15:43

    BARCELONA, Spain — A van veered onto a sidewalk and barreled down a busy pedestrian zone Thursday in Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it mowed down tourists and residents and turned the popular European vacation promenade into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured in […]

  • Politics

    Senator: Alaskans should vote on tax, oil-wealth proposals

    by Associated Press on Aug 17, 15:26

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A Republican state senator pursuing a run for governor says Alaskans should get a say on whether the state should impose an income tax or make changes to how the earnings from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund are handled. Sen. Mike Dunleavy of Wasilla says both issues should go to an advisory vote. […]

  • News

    Creditors’ claims could sink Alaska Dispatch News deal, buyers say

    by Chris Klint on Aug 17, 14:21

    The family slated to spearhead a purchase of the state’s largest newspaper defended its proposed financing of the deal in court filings Thursday, saying the paper only has weeks’ worth of pay remaining for employees and that the roughly $1 million purchase won’t occur if other creditors can recover their money from the paper first. […]

  • Driver charged with hitting stopped Glenn Highway motorist

    by Chris Klint on Aug 17, 13:12

    A man trying to help a motorist stopped along the Glenn Highway in rush-hour traffic this week was struck by another vehicle and severely injured, with the driver Anchorage police say is at fault now facing assault charges. Krista Ruesch, 34, was charged with operating under the influence, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in the […]