The big news this past week in the Geeks.Online and tech world is a security flaw which can be used by hackers, known as the Heartbleed bug.

The Heartbleed bug affects OpenSSL, which is used by over 60% of the web to securely send data. The function of OpenSSL is to scrambles (encrypts) private communications between computers. When you are checking webmail, online banking, or making a online purchase- the green padlock symbol up in your browser address bar means that you are using HTTPS- and your passwords and all other data should be secure from hackers.

Due to the Heartbleed bug, any personal information loaded on your computer’s memory, including usernames, passwords, email addresses, etc. could be exposed to hackers.

Thousands of online services that use OpenSSL- such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, Google, YouTube, Gmail, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, Yahoo! Mail, GoDaddy, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, OKCupid, SoundCloud…  have potentially been a goldmine for hackers for over two years. You may already have received emails from some of these sites recommending that you change your passwords. Thankfully, many of the largest sites were patched for Heartbleed before the issue was publicly announced. No one has actually reported the exploit as being used in the theft of passwords or data.

GeeksOnTime recommends changing your passwords on the sites affected by the Heartbleed bug- it’s the safest course. Don’t allow hackers easy access to your old, insecure passwords. LastPass is a free/cheep tool to help you change your passwords