The Pew Research Center, based in Washington, D.C., released data from a recent study indicating that less than half of the Internet users who are aware of the Heartbleed security flaw “have taken steps to protect themselves” against its threats, according to a recent article published on the EWeek website. The article indicates that the study, published on April 30, is a calculation of numerous data – including demographics and economic specifications – which outlined their beliefs why certain groups responded to Heartbleed and others did not.
Heartbleed – technically known as “CVE-2014-0160″ and also referred to as “TLS heartbeat read overrun“, was originally exposed by the open-source OpenSSL project on April 7, 2014, according to the article. The security flaw proved its global impact by then allowing an individual hacker or invader “access to information that is supposed to be encrypted with SSL” leaving “servers and embedded devices including mobile phones” extremely vulnerable since “OpenSSL is widely used“, according to this report.
The Pew study data, compiled from a survey of 1,501 American adult Internet users conducted between April 23-27, found that 64 percent had heard about the Heartbleed flaw but “only 39 percent actually took steps to protect themselves” by simply “changing passwords and avoiding potentially vulnerable online services“, according to the article. The study also brought demographics into the mix which apply a broader stroke to understanding the response to the threat. The study revealed, according to the article, that “American households with incomes of less than $30,000, only 33 percent had changed passwords” but “46 percent of American households earning $75,000 or more changed passwords” in response to the security flaw.
Pew researchers also discovered, according to the report, that “69 percent of Internet users see their online information as being generally secure” and unfortunately “only 6 percent noted that they believed that personal information was actually stolen as a result of Heartbleed.”