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Stating the Heartbleeding obvious

We should all change our passwords more frequently, keep our operating systems up to date and be careful when online - even more so since the internet was rocked by the revelation of the Heartbleed bug.


Saturday was record shop day where people are encouraged to spurn digital musical downloads and support their local CD seller and vinyl vendor.

It is a fairly safe bet that 1970 LP of Captain Beefheart's 'Lick My Decals Off, Baby" or that eighties CD of Fiction Factory's greatest hit - '(Feels Like) Heaven', since you ask - will not result in your privacy being invaded, unless it is by the next door neighbour asking you to turn it down.

That's more than can be said for digital music sites and, indeed, many other popular web destinations, since news of the Heartbleed security vulnerability broke.

The vulnerability relates to the popular open source version of the secure socket layer protocol (OpenSSL) crypto-graphic software library.

I'll now try to put that into English.

You know that little padlock icon that pops up when you visit a secure site (one with a web address that starts https)?

It turns out that for the last two years, the icon should have been an unlocked padlock, not a locked one - at least for more than two-thirds of sites that require any form of security.

You can find out the full details about the bug on the Heartbleed site, but for now, if you use the internet for email, online banking, shopping, social networking - just about anything that requires a login ID and password - you should do two things.

1) Check each site to see whether it has been patched to close the security leak.

You can do this on various site, such as LastPass, a site run by a company promoting a utility that remembers all your passwords so you only have to remember one. KeePass is a similar utility.

2) Assuming the site is deemed not vulnerable to the Heartbleed vulnerability, change your password. There is little point changing the password before the site's OpenSSL is patched, because you could still be being spied on.

While you are at it, make sure your operating system is up to date. That's going to be impossible for Windows XP users, as Microsoft has just stopped supporting the operating system (OS), which means any future security vulnerabilities identified in the venerable OS will not be fixed.

Otherwise, most operating systems - Windows, Apple, the many iterations of Linux, such as Ubuntu and Mint (both of which are free, unlike the Microsoft and Apple offerings) - have an option to run an auto-update.

After you have done all that, and because this is ostensibly an investment web site - albeit one wearing its holiday polo shirt, chinos and loafers - check out some tech stocks that specialise in computer security, such as Corero Network Security (LON:CNS), NCC (LON:NCC) and Datatec (LON:DTC).

Quick facts: Corero Network Security PLC

Price: 8.625 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £42.68 m

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