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The Heartbleed Mega Bug Threatens Internet Security Worldwide

In recent weeks countless news stories shed light on the so-called “Heartbleed bug” and its pervasive reach threatening internet security and potential ramifications including identity theft. It has been deemed as “catastrophic” by industry experts, but what is it?

Understanding the Danger

The Heartbleed bug works by creating a pathway into security software. Unfortunately, the security software made vulnerable is some of the most widely used protection for sensitive information used on the internet. The software affected is the OPenSSL, a security tool used by web pages everywhere to keep user content and information safe.

Heartbleed Mega Bug Threatens Internet Security Worldwide

To make matters worse, the Heartbleed bug has been around for years already without being detected. Also, use by hackers of the security flaw created by the bug leaves absolutely no trace on computer logs. The Heartbleed bug stands alone in comparison to past web security breaches in its ease of use by hackers, sheer length of existence, scope of applicability, and reach to the four corners of the internet.

Typically when a user is conducting private business online, the information being entered on their computer is encrypted by software. That is when a user would see a little padlock icon in the URL window at the top of the browser. However, that very security layer is what was pierced by the Heartbleed bug.

The pathway created by the bug allows access to user’s personal information like passwords, logins, and content like emails, web history and online banking records. Anything online worthy of encryption is in harm’s way. Over 17 percent of the internet’s secure areas are thought to have been compromised leaving the information that flowed through those sites open to exploitation.

An even more nefarious potential use of the bug allows for imitation of authenticity certificates. This permits thieves to create seemingly safe spaces online, or even impersonate trusted sites.

A Fix to the Problem?

A repaired version of the corrupted security software has been released. However, the true damage has already been done the extent of which cannot yet be estimated.

Arrests have already been made as some hackers have capitalized on the security weakness. However, the actual designers of the bug are still at large. Furthermore, there really is no anticipated extent to the potential damage that could be caused when information already collected is used for illicit purposes.

Experts recommend changing passwords and logins as soon as possible. It is also a wise precaution to check online banking and other online financial tools, like PayPal and stock trading accounts, for discrepancies. Some have even called for staying away from online services entirely until the dust settles.

The real danger of the Heartbleed bug is that victims will not know they have been involved until it is too late. Cleaning up this mess could take years, and who is to blame is still a question that needs an answer. The best thing to be done now is to monitor information to see if you as a internet user have been harmed. If so, take immediate steps including seeking competent legal counsel that is up to date on personal identity theft issues.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by identity theft, please contact Fetterman and Associates and our team of experienced attorneys immediately at 561-845-2510 for a free legal consultation.

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Target Data Breach Serves as a Reminder to Monitor Your Credit Report

Monitor Your Credit ReportEarlier this month, hackers obtained about 40 million credit card and debit card numbers used by customers at the retail store Target between November 27th and December 15th. The information obtained by the hackers included not only the numbers but also the names on the cards, expiration dates and encrypted security codes – basically everything an identity thief needs to make fraudulent charges on those cards. Most recently it was announced that the hackers obtained encrypted PINs for the debit cards as well.

If you used a credit card or debit card at Target within the given time frame, it is wise to monitor those cards frequently and immediately dispute any unauthorized charge. Most companies will not hold you responsible for unauthorized charges if you notify them immediately and follow the proper procedures.

The Target breach was highly visible and widely publicized, but identity theft takes place on a smaller scale all the time, and often you don’t realize you became a victim until you get your monthly statement from your bank or credit card and find charges were made in your name that you didn’t make. How can you become aware of these crimes as soon as they happen, and what can you do about it?

Monitor Your Credit Report

When an attempt to obtain credit is made in your name, it is reported to one or more of three main credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – so monitoring your credit reports with these companies is an important way to know what is going on with your credit. Of course, you can pay companies to monitor your credit report for you, but you can also do it yourself for free. The law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies. If you request a copy of your credit report from a different agency every four months, you can stay on top of your credit report year-round at no cost and know if credit has been applied for, approved, or rejected in your name without you knowing about it. Also, if outdated or inaccurate information appears on your credit report, you can take steps to have it removed or corrected. Credit reports from all three companies are available at one central website – www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

What to do if your credit information is breached

There are steps you should take immediately if you believe you have been the victim of identify theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pages on identity theft, the first step is to call one of the three credit reporting companies and ask them place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You can also create an identity theft report by filing a complaint with the FTC and filing a police report.

The initial fraud alert only lasts for 90 days. If necessary, you can place extended fraud alerts as well as credit freezes on your reports to stop or restrict access to your credit report while you attempt to undo any damage done. These steps may involve contacting the credit reporting agencies to correct any inaccurate information on your credit reports and interacting directly with your bank, credit card companies and other institutions to dispute any fraudulent action taken by identity thieves in your name.

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