The Heartbleed Bug

On April 7, word got out about something known as the Heartbleed Security Bug and it has caused nothing but trouble since. The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability within certain versions of OpenSSL an open source implementation of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). In other words, Heartbleed exposes a lot of supposedly secure information to potential hackers.

While Heartbleed has been said to have currently only affected a small portion of the Internet, the potential for it to expand or to manifest itself in a different form in the future definitely exists. Technology errors and omissions such as this can cause you a lot of grief if you are not careful. Target was one of the first, and certainly one of the most prominent, victims of the Heartbleed bug when hackers were able to get into a secure system and get the information of thousands of customers.

Even companies, such as Akamai Technologies Inc., who found out about the potential bug in the system prior to it becoming public knowledge were not able to stay ahead of the curve, buying a patch for the bug that proved to be ineffective in the long run.

By being protected from technology errors and omissions such as Heartbleed help a company stay afloat when the unexpected occurs, but not doing anything beyond this might hurt your reputation as a company. Even with coverage from any lawsuits, not all press will be good press if people don’t see you as a reputable, reliable company.

It is important to keep all consumers involved in the process if you fall vulnerable to Heartbleed. Businesses should reach out to their vendors and consumers and be transparent about the technology errors and omissions and what is being done to fix them. Good public relations strategies such as these can only help in the long run.