One week after the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability was unveiled, authorities have made the first arrest connected to exploiting the security hole. Canadian mounties arrested 19-year-old Stephen Solis-Reyes from London, Ontario for allegedly using his knowledge of Heartbleed to steal about 900 Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Just five days ago Bloomberg reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had know about the bug since 2012 and also exploited it for two years. Though the NSA is denying the report, it is likely that people have used Heartbleed in some way because of its prevalence around the Internet.
In fact, Heartbleed hackers have hit Mumsnet, a parent-to-parent Web site in the U.K., potentially putting the personal information of its 1.5 million registered users at risk before the hack was discovered and the flaw patched, according to The Telegraph.
While the majority of financial and government institutions have already updated their services to a secure version of OpenSSL, it appears as though 50 million Android users could still be at risk. One version of the operating system, Android 4.1.1, is both vulnerable and widely used.
Solis-Reyes is not only the first person to be arrested for allegedly using the Heartbleed bug to his advantage but his attack is also the first to be recorded. Now that Heartbleed is in the public spectrum, Web sites know what an attack looks like, enabling Solis-Reyes to be caught. Authorities discovered that during a six-hour window, someone was able to exploit Heartbleed to steal private taxpayer information.
It is concerning that any government Web site was not patched immediately after Heartbleed was announced, though the Canada Revenue Agency said that it had been working to update its system. "The CRA is one of many organizations that was vulnerable to Heartbleed, despite our robust controls," said CRA commissioner Andrew Treusch.
This may be the first arrest in relation to Heartbleed, but it may not be the last. As many as 500,000 Web sites were using one of the insecure versions of OpenSSL. Many of the Web sites have been patched, including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, but not every service is safe.
Issues With Android
The problem of Android fragmentation is rearing its head as a result of Heartbleed, since the patched operating system is not yet available to millions of individuals. Analytics firm Chitika is reporting that there are as many as 50 million people still running Android 4.1.1 around the world. All those devices are technically at risk and security software provider Lookout has already released an app that allows people to determine if their devices could be attacked.
Lookout security researcher Marc Rogers told Bloomberg that because a hacker would have to target individual devices, the attack would be too complex and would provide very little value. However, that could change once larger server attacks are no longer possible and hackers are forced to turn toward individual devices.
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, for his view on the vulnerable Android devices. He told us that users shouldn’t necessarily be worried but they should ask manufacturers and carriers what they are doing to provide patches.
“I believe people who own/use Android-based phones and tablets should be concerned rather than worried since attacking/exploiting the Heartbleed flaw on a server managing thousands or millions of accounts is a far richer target than an individual device,” King said. “That said, it would be wise for Android users to see if they're using Android 4.1 and, if so, to ask manufacturers and wireless carriers what they're doing to fix the problem."