Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - Almanac Vol. 60, No. 32
Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability
A vulnerability in OpenSSL, a cryptographic protocol used by many websites to secure web traffic, was disclosed on Monday evening, April 7, 2014.
The so-called "Heartbleed" vulnerability has affected a large number of systems worldwide and can be exploited to expose the keys used to encrypt traffic from the vulnerable sites, as well as other data meant to be protected, including usernames and passwords.
Penn's IT staff began working immediately to identify and remediate vulnerable machines, with an emphasis on finding and repairing Penn's most critical systems first. Fortunately, the central servers that maintain Penn's CoSign WebLogin service, the primary web-based authentication method used by Penn websites, were not vulnerable to this issue. Nor were other parts of Penn's central identity and access management infrastructure (e.g. wireless authentication portals).
In addition to scanning continuously for vulnerable Penn machines, ISC Information Security is monitoring network traffic for any active attacks on Penn systems. They continue to encourage all PennKey holders to enroll in Two-Step Verification (www.upenn.edu/computing/weblogin/two-step/) which would mitigate this risk, as well as other attacks (such as phishing).
It is suggested that users also monitor other personal, sensitive accounts across the Internet and contact the owners of those websites with any questions.(1) Note that many popular services, like Facebook, Google and Twitter, enable multi-factor authentication as well.
Lastly, please be on the lookout for fraudulent email claiming to be from companies with which you do business (including Penn), as criminals may use this event to create phishing email messages designed to trick people into divulging their passwords. No legitimate party from Penn will ever ask you to share your password , and if a campaign to change PennKey passwords was ever initiated, it would be well-communicated and easily verifiable with your Local Support Provider.
If you have any questions about Heartbleed please contact:
(1) For more information about applications and services affected by the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability please see