Middle East users 'not immune' to Heartbleed

Global nature of the bug puts everyone at risk, says IDC research manager

Tags: Cyber crimeIDC Middle East and Africa
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Middle East users 'not immune' to Heartbleed Users should take precaution by regularly changing their passwords
By  Tom Paye Published  April 17, 2014

Users in the Middle East have been left just as vulnerable by the ‘Heartbleed' bug as anyone else, due to it having impacted global social media, e-mail and web service sites, according to Megha Kumar, software research manager at IDC Middle East.

The Heartbleed bug was discovered last week. It exploits a vulnerability in the widely used OpenSSL Web encryption program to gain access to data such as usernames and passwords.

In a statement, Kumar said that the outbreak of Heartbleed proves that hackers will continue to manipulate application vulnerabilities.

"Users in the Middle East are not immune to Heartbleed," she said.

"Given that it has been active over the last two years could have led to the leak of sensitive information such as credit card payments details."

However, while many companies have urged users to change their online passwords straight away, Kumar warned that information could still be left vulnerable until the online service has confirmed a fix.

"While all of us can go ahead and change our passwords, it should be kept in mind that until the social media/ e-mail/ web services site has not confirmed the fix, your information will remain vulnerable," she said.

"At this point in time, users should take precaution by regularly changing their passwords, not using the same password on multiple sites and companies might consider two-factor authentication to better secure users."

Kumar added that incidents such as this will always occur, and urged technology firms to invest in stronger coding and encryption practices.

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