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Heartbleed vulnerability exposes information from secure websites

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heartbleedAn alarming new internet security vulnerability called Heartbleed has exposed loopholes of seemingly secure websites around the world.

Heartbleed affects sites with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) that is supposed to protect your private and financial information when shopping online.

This means that information you thought was protected, like passwords and credit card numbers, could be exposed through this worrying vulnerability.

Usually your computer would communicate with a server by sending a pulse to see if it’s online before enabling a secure connection.

With Heartbleed the hackers send a malicious heartbeat signal to trick the servers into sending back random chunks of information.

That information could include passwords and secure financial information.

And the real worry is that there is no file to detect from the hacker – it is completely network based.

Heartbleed could affect two thirds of the secure websites, according to internet security company McAfee.

McAfee has created a Heartbleed Vulnerability test tool where users can enter a website address to see of that particular site has been affected.

Sites running SSL can be identified with the padlock in the address bar to suggest your information is secure.

The worrying thing for consumers is, according to Trend Micro, there isn’t anything you can do to your computer to protect yourself.

The issue must be addressed at each website’s server.

But there are some precautions that can be taken to shield yourself from the potential fallout.

* Be sure you’re running internet security software and that it’s up to date.

* Keep an eye on your online accounts and financial accounts and check for suspicious activity.

* Change your passwords for sites that recommend you do so.

The best thing to do is follow the instructions from the secure websites you visit as they patch this vulnerability.

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