Big Data

Heartbleed Update: Sites That Tell You Which Passwords You Should Bother to Change

Rick Moser/Shutterstock.com

For background, see this early Heartbleed dispatch on general principles of password hygiene, and this one on a range of test utilities to check whether possibly affected sites have yet been repaired.

Your simple two-point checklist for today and the weekend:

1) In addition to some of the other test sites already mentioned (at LastPass,Possible.lvQualysFilippo.io), check out the very convenient guide provided by the security firm IVPN. Here is a sample of what it displays:

It doesn't cover all sites, of course, but it includes many of the biggest-volume ones. The two most useful aspects of this presentation are showing which sites did not use OpenSSL at all and thus were not affected; and clarifying which affected ones have already implemented a fix, so that new, changed passwords will "stick." I can't independently vouch for all the reports here, but the ones I do know about match up with what I've seen elsewhere. Again, the advantage here is the simple clarity of the presentation.

2)  As this episode recedes and tech people figure out its long-term implications, commit to heart the Basic Rules of Password Life, as reeled off and explained in the initial post:  

  • Err on the side of changing passwords, especially after reports like this;
  • For sites you care about, never use a password you have ever used anywhere else;
  • Use a password manager to avoid going crazy from the previous two tips;
  • Use two-step security systems when they're available, for example in Gmail;
  • Remind yourself why it's worth going to this bother by reading what can happen if you don't. And anyway, that report is interesting.  

That is all. Again, the upshot of recent reports is that most important sites have now patched their OpenSSL vulnerabilities, so there's no further excuse for putting off password changes where indicated. 

xkcd has a wonderful visual explanation of how the bug actually works.

(Image via Rick Moser/Shutterstock.com)

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// July 22