(CBS News) – 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.
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