The Canadian government has just suspended online filing of taxes until it's certain its systems haven't been compromised by the Heartbleed cyber attack. You know a cyber attack is bad when the government stops, even temporarily, collecting taxes.
For those of you with better things to do than pay attention to the news, Heartbleed is a particularly nasty bug that has infected one of the most popular software systems used by hundreds of websites, including such big names as Yahoo. It's so serious that it even has it's own website: Heartbleed.com: From that site, here's the straight scoop.
“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.”
I'd go to that site, by the way, for a primer on Heartbleed and what to do about it.
Chances are, your industrial automation system hasn't been infected, but it wouldn't hurt to check. Furthermore, even if the industry has dodged this bullet, we're not going to dodge them all. And yet, in spite of those of us in the press lecturing like your grandmother and vendors offering upgraded and hardened security packages, there seems to be a sense that since nothing bad has happened to a critical facility yet, nothing will.
Don't bet on it.