The Heartbleed OpenSSL threat is a significant threat to data and personal information security and requires the attention of anyone who uses websites that perform any type of secure transaction. OpenSSL is one of the major security tools used on secure websites. The Heartbleed threat refers to a security hole in the encryption process that normally provides protection of any data using it. So any information you have transmitted could have already been compromised as this hole has been in place since 2011.

The bad news about the Heartbleed security hole is that about 2/3 of the secure websites worldwide are affected by the problem. The good news is that it does not affect Windows systems directly. However, if you have used any website with a user name and password, there is a high probability that your passwords may be at risk of compromise. There are two steps required to combat this threat: (1) the website server must have its security software patched to close the Heartbleed security hole; (2) any users of that website need to change their account password after the patch installation. Follow this link to check a list of companies and websites that have been contacted concerning their risk of data compromise by the Heartbleed threat.

For many websites, especially the larger ones, you should wait to receive notification from them before changing your password so you know that they have patched their servers. In the meantime, try to minimize use of secure websites as long as possible.

The other bad news about this situation is that complete eradication of the Heartbleed threat may take several years to implement!

To increase your level of protection from compromise, use strong passwords and for very important accounts like bank accounts, change your password more often over the next several months or until you have been informed that the applicable web servers have been patched.

The Heartbleed threat is a very real and potentially damaging threat to information security worldwide. DO NOT IGNORE IT! [20140412]