Have you heard about the Heartbleed bug? The serious security vulnerability has affected around 500,000 websites including Google and Facebook – and almost anyone who uses services provided over the internet. So what is the Heartbleed bug and how can you safeguard your business data?

What is the Heartbleed bug?

The Heartbleed bug has made user passwords – and therefore websites – vulnerable to hackers. While we don’t yet know the full impact of the vulnerability, what we do know is that it has put individual user and business data at risk.

The weakness occurs in OpenSSL – a popular software system. It allows hackers to steal a server’s digital keys, which are used to encrypt data. In technical terms, this is known as SSL/TLS encryption, which safeguards information on the internet for applications like email, instant messaging and virtual private networks (VPNs).

What does this all mean? Well, it makes it very easy for hackers to tap into the server’s data memory and view usernames, passwords and payment information.

And it means your valuable personal and business information could fall into the wrong hands.

Which websites are affected by Heartbleed?

So far, the Heartbleed bug has affected YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Pinterest and Blogspot – websites that most of us use regularly.

CNET has published a list of the top 100 sites affected by the bug, which includes all the major tech companies and social networking sites.

How can I keep my business data safe?

We know the Heartbleed bug is serious. What we don’t know is just how many websites and users are at risk.

That’s why we suggest you immediately reset your passwords across all systems – both internal and internet-based.

In particular, you should reset passwords for websites that hold your credit information – such as online shopping sites.

Is there an easy way to reset my passwords?

A password management tool, such as LastPass, makes password storage and changes simple and safe. LastPass is free for personal use, and available to businesses for a very small fee.

Spending a little time and money now to securely store your passwords will be well worth it in the future.

Need a hand with password security or have a question about Heartbleed? Just ask our expert team.