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Mobile Apps Susceptible to Heartbleed, Too

Sarah Thomas
4/14/2014
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It's not just Internet infrastructure that's susceptible to Heartbleed, one of the most pervasive OpenSSL security threats in some time. Mobile apps may also be at risk, and several firms are offering warnings and patches to safeguard consumer phones.

The Heartbleed bug is a software flaw discovered last week in the OpenSSL "Heartbeats" function that helps keep secure Internet connections alive. The bug could potentially let cyber criminals steal endless amounts of personal data.

While concern was initially for vulnerable websites, researchers are now warning that both Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s mobile operating systems could be at risk as well. As such, BlackBerry said on Monday that it would release security updates for its messaging software on Android and iOS devices by the end of the week.

BlackBerry devices themselves don't use the at-risk software, but the company tells Reuters it needs to update its Secure Work Space corporate email and BBM messaging program that are in use on Android and iOS. The risk level may be relatively low, but the company says it could infect those who use the apps either on WiFi or over the cellular network.

Technically, any app that uses the OpenSSL code is susceptible to the Heartbleed bug. Mobile security provider Lookout has put out a Heartbleed Detector app that, when downloaded by a mobile phone user, can determine what version of OpenSSL the device is using and check to see if the vulnerable feature in Hearbeats is enabled. It can't do anything about it -- that's up to Google or the device maker -- but it does alert consumers to the potential for harm.

Since the bug was unearthed, there haven't been reports of widespread damage, but it could only be a matter of time. In the meantime, companies from operators to network equipment makers to software providers are working hard to develop patches and upgrades so consumers aren't affected. (See Cisco, Juniper Treating Gear Against Potential Heartbleed and Eurobites: Telenor Counters Heartbleed Threat.)

Lookout suggests that consumers should also change their passwords, but not until told to by their individual service providers, as the vulnerability pulls data from the active memory of the affected systems, so any attackers might still have access to a new password as well.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/18/2014 | 3:27:03 PM
Lookout Data

Lookout has new data out from the 10,000 people who downloaded its app and agreed to share their results:

-- "Devices running Android 4.1.1 are predominantly the ones that are vulnerable, but there are also a handful running 4.2.2

-- The Evo, HTC One S and HTC One X are the 3 most popular vulnerable smartphones

-- Regions of the world vary in their level of risk. 

Here you'll find a slideshare which includes full details and the next steps on what to do if your device is vulnerable."

Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/17/2014 | 12:42:43 PM
Wireless okay
More updates today from AT&T, SPrint, Verizon and T-Mobile suggest they have not been affected and are taking the necessary precautions, so rest easy (but not TOO easy). 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/16/2014 | 4:33:56 PM
Re: More malware
I know, right?! EVERYBODY PANIC!!

According to that most reliable of sources, Some Guy On Reddit, iOS doesn't use OpenSSl and is therefore not susceptible, although apps might be susceptible. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/15/2014 | 6:28:25 PM
Re: More malware
Of course, that makes sense, just like PR people latch on to events ilke this to pitch semi-related companies. I'd hope FireEye isn't making up viruses though...seems like new strands are found every day.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/15/2014 | 6:27:15 PM
Re: More malware
Thanks for the heads up, Malcom. I hope Apple issues that patch soon too.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/15/2014 | 6:26:10 PM
Re: More malware
Yikes, I guess it's starting then.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/15/2014 | 4:50:07 PM
Re: More malware
Attackers used Heartbleed to break into the Canada Revenue Agency.
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/15/2014 | 2:48:01 PM
Re: More malware
To me the FireEye notification seems to be somewhat self-serving. McAfee also sent out notices, but also said that their software is not designed to protect against this type of vulnerability. It's good to get notices out, but I'm cautious any time the notice comes from someone seeking to sell a solution.
MalcolmTucker
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MalcolmTucker,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/15/2014 | 2:39:12 PM
Re: More malware
I was performing some research into this.  Apparently, the APPLE "Airport Utility" which comes as standard software with all Mac Computers, uses the OpenSSL library. 

This is in the acknowledgements and licensing agreement feature within the Airport Utility itself.

Because the code hasn't been verified to be vulnerable, it may be best to take the Airport Utility (Located in the "Utilities" folder) and place it into the trashcan.  Apple's culture is one of secrecy and to not disclose issues until a patch is released.

Because Apple and everybody was blindsighted, it's probably best to place the Airport Utility into the trash.

Airport controls WiFi connections to Apple's own WiFi routers.  You should be able to connect to the internet, and configure your router if you use the Apple iPhone or iPad configuration app; then delete the app on your ipad until you need it again.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/15/2014 | 12:59:07 PM
Re: More malware
Yeah, it seems like most of the patches will be out in time, but we really don't know. I haven't gotten any notifications from service providers about actions to take. I was going to just change all my passwords, but sounds like that's not the wisest move, according to Lookout.
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