Feeds

NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS

Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Updated The tech world is aflutter over the Heartbleed encryption flaw in OpenSSL, but it seems that the bug was no surprise to the analysts of the NSA, since they have reportedly been using it for two years to spy on data traffic.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that NSA staff picked up on the fatal flaw shortly after the code was published, and added it into the agency's box of hacking tricks. One source said Heartbleed was used regularly for years, and that the agency decided not to warn US citizens and companies that their data was at risk.

One of the NSA's specific roles is to safeguard national communications and online security infrastructure; indeed, the agency states as much on its website. "We will protect national security interests by adhering to the highest standards of behavior," they write.

This appears to have been lacking if Friday's report is correct.

"It flies in the face of the agency's comments that defense comes first," said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. "They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this."

News of the Heartbleed bug surfaced on April 7, and since then the biggest names in the technology industry have been scrambling to patch up their software and fix the flaw. Hackers have already started attacks using the vulnerability, and the internet has probably seen more password changes in the last week than at any point in its history.

Most websites have now upgraded to OpenSSL 1.0.1g, which fixes the problem, but the flaw will also affect software on PCs, phones, and tablets, according to the computer security folks at the SANS Institute. The open source community has been criticized for failing to spot the flaw, but it lacks the resources of the NSA, which employs hundreds of code checkers to find flaws in common code. ®

Update

The NSA has now said it knew nothing about the Heartbleed bug in a brief statement on Twitter.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.