A year on from the revelations of the Heartbleed bug, only six per cent of users of the top 100 websites have changed their websites.
Despite being deemed to be “the most dangerous security flaw on the web”, research by Dashlane of 95,000 strictly anonymised accounts worldwide, 4,950 of which were in the UK, found that 52 per cent of UK-based users had not changed any of their passwords at all since April 2014, meaning that they could potentially still be vulnerable.
Dashlane CEO Emmanuel Schalit told IT Security Guru that it was the most severe breach in the existence of the internet, and that its magnitude could not be overstated because it could be exploited leaving no trace.
“We found that 86 per cent of US citizens had not even heard of it, yet when we asked them about Snowden they recognised his name,” he said. “Attacks such as Heartbleed are becoming more commonplace, and larger in scale, and it’s critical that everyone is aware and educated about the threats as they affect all of us.”
Tony Anscombe, security evangelist at AVG Technologies, told IT Security Guru that there is an element of fatique with a major data breach announced every six to eight weeks, but there is a danger that consumers feel that there is nothing they can do, but we should fight against that notion.
He said: “I think there is a positive that has come out of it as well. While there is still some complacency, businesses are putting in policies and procedures on how to patch things in emergencies where before Heartbleed, they were not there in the SMEs. Big companies had those but smaller businesses were not so aware of what to do or how to do it, and I think Heartbleed really pushed them home.”
Looking at the patches released last month, Anscombe suspected that the time took to patch was probably less than Heartbleed.
Heartbleed affected over 500,000 websites and dominated the news globally for weeks. Internet users were urged to change their passwords by everyone from banks to online retailers. The threat was so severe that the Cabinet Office felt compelled to issue advice to the public through the media and CERT-UK issued its first major advisory.
12 months on, asked what the lessons learned were, Schalit said: “A former NSA director said recently that we had not yet seen the worst of what a cyber event could do to the nation or corporation, and the worst is yet to come.
“For better or worse, we are headed for the next few years in which consumer awareness of these issues is bound to increase, but that will come at a cost where we see identities and money stolen, and their lives put in complicated situations.”