Cybersecurity

DHS: 'Nefarious actors' moving to exploit Heartbleed

Placeholder Image for Article Template

"Nefarious actors" were making moves to exploit the Heartbleed OpenSSL flaw in the first few days after the problem was discovered, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo.

In an advisory issued by DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center on April 10 just as the Heartbleed flaw was uncovered, the department warned that a trusted third party had seen exploit code written in Python script on publicly available online outlets. A number of underground forums were also discussing the vulnerability, "which indicated interest from nefarious actors," the memo states.

Heartbleed is a vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL library that provides cryptographic services such as Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security to applications and services. Computer security experts have said the resulting damage is difficult to gauge because the error leaves no log files or other traces of access gained via the exploit.

The DHS memo posted on the Public Intelligence open-source website says the security flaw has potentially enormous reach, and that although the initial code to take advantage of Heartbleed was potent, but there was no evidence it was being used.

"Internal trusted third-party assessments reveal that the code is 100 percent effective against the specific versions of SSL protocol noted above," the memo states. "However, at this time it has not been observed having the capability to compromise all SSL protocols. It is also important to note that at this time there have been no reported malicious attacks that exploit this vulnerability."

The memo contains an extensive list of vendors and products that could include vulnerable versions of OpenSSL within their product distributions but added that most have already begun issuing patches and have posted information on their websites with plans for addressing the vulnerability.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group