“It would not at all surprise me if the NSA had discovered this long before the rest of us had,” Blaze says. “It’s certainly something that the NSA would find extremely useful in their arsenal.”Michael Riley at Bloomberg went further than that Friday:
The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.The NSA has not publicly responded to a query about whether these claims are true.
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. [...]
Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.
The bug is a glitch—some are calling it the biggest ever glitch, as much as an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10:
"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."One prominent person in the field cited by Bloomberg said using Heartbleed was a dumb move on the part of the government:
“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”Is it still too early for full-blown Church Committee-style investigation of all NSA doings?