Citing two anonymous sources “familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg News reports that the National Security Agency has known about Heartbleed, the security flaw in the OpenSSL encryption software used by a majority of websites and a multitude of other pieces of Internet infrastructure, for nearly the entire lifetime of the bug—“at least two years.” The sources told Bloomberg that the NSA regularly used the flaw to collect intelligence information, including obtaining usernames and passwords from targeted sites.
“When Edward Snowden warned that the NSA is ‘setting fire to the future of the internet,’ this is presumably the kind of thing he was talking about,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement emailed to Ars. “If this report is true, then the NSA is making hundreds of millions of people around the world more vulnerable to hacking and identity theft, and it’s compromising the trust that allows the internet to function. The NSA has lost sight of its mission, and it has lost sight of the values of the society it’s supposed to be protecting.”
The NSA has issued a statement denying the report. In an email to Ars, NSA spokesperson Vanee VInes provided this official statement: “NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report. Reports that say otherwise are wrong.”
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