Reverse Heartbleed puts your PC and devices at risk of OpenSSL attack

A password management service discovers that the Heartbleed bug can be used to target individual users.

The Internet has been abuzz for the last week or so in response to the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL. While almost all of the attention has centered on patching Web servers and advising users to change their passwords, security researchers have discovered that individual client PCs and devices are also at risk thanks to "Reverse Heartbleed."

Meldium, a Cloud identity and access management service, shared details of the Reverse Heartbleed threat in a blog post. An attacker can exploit Heartbleed to expose sensitive data on vulnerable servers, but that's not the only attack possible using this flaw. The "heartbeat" used in the Heartbleed attack can be initiated by either the client or the server, so a malicious server can also send bad heartbeat packets to an OpenSSL client to extract data.

"It's the popularity and pervasiveness of the OpenSSL library that makes this vulnerability difficult to remediate fully," said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. "While popular Web applications may be already patched, the myriad of appliances, embedded devices, and network infrastructure that may be vulnerable will take a lot longer to address. You can't just disable the Internet for maintenance."

OpenSSL is a widely-used implementation of SSL, used in a diverse array of devices to secure Internet communications. Websites and online services are working diligently to patch and update in response to the Heartbleed threat, but browsers, applications, and connected devices that rely on OpenSSL are also potentially vulnerable to Heartbleed and/or Reverse Heartbleed. For example, both Cisco and Juniper have acknowledged that many of their home routers and networking devices are vulnerable.

According to Meldium, the server-initiated Reverse Heartbleed attack is slightly more difficult to successfully exploit for a few reasons. For instance, it can only be attempted once the TLS connection has been established. There are security controls used by some clients that will detect that the server certificate doesn't match and abort the connection.

Meldium advises the same mitigation and remediation for Reverse Heartbleed as for Heartbleed, but stresses, "The important takeaway is that it's not enough to patch your perimeter hosts--you need to purge bad OpenSSL versions from your entire infrastructure."

The same holds true for individual home users. You should check with the developer or vendor for any software or devices that connect to the Internet to determine if they rely on OpenSSL and whether or not there is a patch available. Refrain from using any affected applications or devices, and apply any updates as soon as possible.

Meldium has created a Reverse Heartbleed Tester you can use to determine if you're vulnerable.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags network securitysecurityTripwireMeldiumInternet of ThingsHeartbleed

More about CiscoJuniperTripwire

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tony Bradley

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place