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The Heartbleed bug is a security vulnerability uncovered in April 2014 that allows hackers to gain access to passwords and personal information. This is important for social media platforms and other sites because Heartbleed can bypass some of the common security protocols for sensitive information in order to collect passwords that can be used to unlock personal resources, or trick users into working on bogus websites.
The risk related to the Heartbleed bug is based on the system of Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) commonly used for Internet sites, in which sites use digital certificates to prove authenticity. An open source tool called OpenSSL is part of the encryption security for these protocols. The Heartbleed bug is predicated on an OpenSSL problem that allows outsiders to read the memory of the host computer. They also may get their hands on encryption keys, which can be used to do even more damage.
Once the bug was uncovered, companies sprang into action to cover the vulnerability. The job won't be complete, however, until all websites purge the old keys used to encrypt data, which means that hackers who've gained access could use them repeatedly until they are revoked by the website.