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OpenSSL

Heartbleed, a serious OpenSSL bug; patched by all Linux distros

A new vulnerability was announced in OpenSSL 1.0.1 that allows an attacker to reveal up to 64kB of memory to a connected client or server (CVE-2014-0160) which may consist of our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents and communication. According to OpenSSL Security Advisory report Neel Mehta from Google Security has discovered this bug.

CVE-2014-0160 is the official reference to this bug. CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) is the Standard for Information Security Vulnerability Names maintained by the MITRE.  Bug is in the OpenSSL’s implementation of the TLS/DTLS (transport layer security protocols) heartbeat extension (RFC6520). When it is exploited it leads to the leak of memory contents from the server to the client and from the client to the server. That’s why it is called as Heartbleed Bug.

The OpenSSL Project is a collaborative effort to develop a robust, commercial-grade, full-featured, and Open Source toolkit implementing the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL v2/v3) and Transport Layer Security (TLS v1) protocols with full-strength cryptography world-wide. The project is managed by a worldwide community of volunteers that use the Internet to communicate, plan, and develop the OpenSSL tool kit and its related documentation. OpenSSL is based on the excellent SSLeay library developed by Eric A. Young and Tim J. Hudson. The OpenSSL toolkit is licensed under an Apache-style license, which basically means that you are free to get and use it for commercial and non-commercial purposes subject to some simple license conditions.

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL (link) cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

Here is the list of operating system distributions that have shipped with potentially vulnerable OpenSSL version

  • Debian Wheezy (stable), OpenSSL 1.0.1e-2+deb7u4
  • Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS, OpenSSL 1.0.1-4ubuntu5.11
  • CentOS 6.5, OpenSSL 1.0.1e-15
  • Fedora 18, OpenSSL 1.0.1e-4
  • OpenBSD 5.3 (OpenSSL 1.0.1c 10 May 2012) and 5.4 (OpenSSL 1.0.1c 10 May 2012)
  • FreeBSD 8.4 (OpenSSL 1.0.1e) and 9.1 (OpenSSL 1.0.1c)
  • NetBSD 5.0.2 (OpenSSL 1.0.1e)
  • OpenSUSE 12.2 (OpenSSL 1.0.1c)

As advised by bug fixers affected users should upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g. User’s unable to immediately upgrade can alternatively recompile OpenSSL with -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS. 1.0.2 will be fixed in 1.0.2-beta2

This bug fix is a successful example of  responsible disclosure because, Instead of disclosing the vulnerability people notified of the problem tracked down the appropriate stakeholders and gave them a chance to fix the vulnerability before it went public.

All the credits goes to Adam Langley and Bodo Moeller for preparing the fix.

According to Heartbleed.com NCSC-FI is likely to publish an advisory. The OpenSSL has made a statement that Individual vendors of operating system distributions, affected owners of Internet services, software packages and appliance vendors may issue their own advisories.

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All major GNU/Linux distributions have patched the bug and you must immediately run updates to install the patch.

Sahil Kalloli

Open Source Supporter, User and Promoter, Sys-Adm by profession, Associated with different political-cultural groups like Chaukasha, Sadak Natak Mandali. Also engaged in theater activities with Pratyay Houshi Natya Kala Kendra, Kolhapur. Hobbies include swimming, cooking, reading literature, listening music. Currently learning UNIX System Design to understand the philosophy of all modern OS as UNIX is mother of all.