Cyber Security

Heartbleed consumer warnings effective in encouraging proactive response

Cyber SecurityData released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project last week indicated that consumer warnings regarding the Heartbleed security flaw were effective in swaying internet users to change their passwords.

Heartbleed, an OpenSSL security bug, was discovered by engineers in April. The vulnerability may have potentially allowed cyberattackers and fraudsters to steal information that is normally encrypted, impersonate servicers and users and eavesdrop on communications.

A number of organizations released warnings to customers and members after the bug was discovered, and the study showed that while only 29 percent of consumers believed their information to be vulnerable, 39 percent of internet users canceled accounts or changed passwords to protect themselves against Heartbleed.

Additionally, according to the data, internet users were more likely to feel that their information was compromised if they were college-educated and made more than $75,000 per year.

African-Americans who use the internet were more likely, according to the survey, to feel confident about the security of their online accounts, while Hispanics were most likely not to feel confident—white Americans fell somewhere in-between.

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