Although the computer vulnerability known as the “Heartbleed bug” has existed for years, the bug has recently crawled into city spotlight.

City technology director Paul Kronberger said the Heartbleed bug is a type of vulnerability found in a product known as OpenSSL, which encrypts and secures information to sent to and from web servers. OpenSSL is typically a secure platform, he said, but when infiltrated, it can reveal private information to hackers.

Kronberger said hackers intercept signals from various sources so they can access passwords, social security numbers and other sensitive data. He said WiFi is a major source hackers use to gain access.

The bug affects users of OpenSSL all around the worldwide, not just in Madison. He said the Heartbleed bug has affected jobs ranging from government agencies to banks to retail firms and more.

“This has become a problem everywhere,” Kronberger said. “Virtually every organization worldwide is affected by this bug.”

Fortunately the problem has been rectified in Madison, Kronberger said. He said the city fixed the bug by reissuing and upgrading security certificates on their software. Kronberger said Madison tested the new software thoroughly to ensure its security.

Kronberger said the city has required all of its employees to change their passwords. He said he is doing the same even in his own household. It is wise for everyone to change all their internet passwords to avoid being hacked themselves.

“No one can ever be fully safe from hacking,” Kronberger said. “That being said, we feel we are in a pretty secure situation at this point.”

[Image via Flickr user INPIVIC]