Last week, the announcement of a bug pet-named Heartbleed threw the tech world into disarray and chaos. As technology developers and habitual users of the internet scrambled to reset the passwords and firewalls, reports of affected smartphones and blackberries, as well as internet domains, poured in, explaining that a security breach and invasion had occurred. As the Heartbleed bug made waves in the lives of internet and app users, the aftermath has seen increased security in technology, and everybody was advised by tech experts to change their passwords.
Smartphones, like Android and iOS, were also breached when the encryption bug came to be public knowledge. The bugs target the phone system’s vulnerability, which allows hackers of all walks of life to infiltrate people’s phones and steal sensitive information. Blackberry Ltd., the company responsible for service plans and data storage for many smartphones, are working to release a software update that upgrades smartphone security, in wake of the encryption breach.
Heartbleed and the Government’s Bond
The aftermath of the Heartbleed bug has also prompted reports to come to light that reveal further corruption of the National Security Agency (NSA), that claim that the NSA took advantage of the bug for years to collect data of United States citizens. The NSA has vehemently denied this allegation, but many citizens’ faith in the security institution have started to dwindle in their denials. In 2013, the NSA contractor Edward Snowden became a whistle-blower, revealed that the company he worked for had been collecting data and spying on the internet habits, as well as the tracking of communications. This was in the name of preventing would-be terrorists from carrying out attacks on American soil.
Critics and detractors of the NSA’s program of monitoring online activities, and communications of American citizens both say that using the Heartbleed encryption bug is a blatant exploitation of their powers. The aftermath of the allegations of the NSA exploiting the bug have reportedly started sparking small protests overseas. Many foreign companies are now wary of American bred software, and some believe that they will threaten to ban such American software – possibly Facebook and others of its ilk – to protect their own national interests, as well as internet privacy rights.
What is most disconcerting about this, for people involved in the tech worlds of Silicon Valley and beyond, is that this event is likely to change how foreign tech engineers and innovators deal with Americans economically. The potential for major stock-owners Facebook, or Twitter to lose money, which would impact millions of users and designers for the sites, is not very imminent. However, the situation foreshadows possible stricter guidelines that will have to be followed. Another dangerous aspect of what “techies” have been referring to as a nightmare scenario, is the vulnerability of bank account and credit card information. Banks and credit unions first have to update their own breached software in order to properly protect their customers. This is something that has yet to happen on a wide scale; ergo, many people are at risk of getting their money stolen by the Heartbleed encryption bug. Although many are claiming that the dust has mostly settled on the security breach, the aftermath of Heartbleed is still clearly on the upswing for many individuals, according to experts who are examining the situation closely.
Opinion by Tyler Collins