Heartbleed - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Don't catch the Heartbleed Bug; choose a strong password

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The bug, which has reportedly existed for two years, allows hackers to steal data and impersonate users. Photo: CCO The bug, which has reportedly existed for two years, allows hackers to steal data and impersonate users. Photo: CCO

(WMC-TV) - Do you use popular websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest? If so, experts are urging you to change your password to avoid becoming a victim to what is possibly the biggest threat to hit the Internet: The Heartbleed Bug.

Discovered by a team of Google Security engineers, the vulnerability allows hackers to steal information from applications such as email, web, and even instant messaging.

According to the Heartbleed Bug website, the bug "allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software ... This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users, and to impersonate services and users."

While many sites have already issued security fixes, there is no way for users to know if their personal information has been compromised. To find out if a specific website has been affected, users can view this comprehensive list of the most popular websites, or visit LastPass.com to check specific sites.

Additionally, it is important that users do not update passwords until the affected website(s) have issued a security fix. Otherwise, the change will not be effective. Below are a few tips on how to choose strong passwords:

- Length: Use six to eight characters.The longer the better.

- Sequence: Never secure online accounts with words or names that you commonly use, such as birthdays, names of children, parents or animals. Instead, use a combination of characters. Pick a phrase that's easy to remember, but hard to guess. For example, if your favorite song is 'Walking In Memphis', a strong password would be wImc*hn91: the first letters of the song name and the last name of the artist, the year the song was released; using both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

- Frequency: Do not use the same password for multiple sites.

- Security: Never give anyone your password.

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