Poll: More than one-third took action after 'Heartbleed'

 

About 36 percent of Internet users have changed their online passwords or canceled some of their Web accounts out of fear of the online “Heartbleed” bug, according to a new poll.

The Pew Research Center survey found that 29 percent of Web users believe their personal information was put at risk, though only 6 percent of users think their data was actually stolen.

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The results show the broad effect of the online security glitch, which was discovered earlier this month and threatened to undermine security on some of the most trusted websites.

The bug captured headlines across the country, and 64 percent of Internet users said that they had heard about it. Just 19 percent said they had heard “a lot” about the online security flaw, however, which pales in comparison to issues like the ongoing tension in Ukraine, about which 46 percent of the public said they had heard “a lot.”

People who were better educated and had higher incomes were more likely to be aware of the bug and fear that their information was more at risk, according to the survey.

News of the bug did not drastically affect the general comfort that Web users have about their data online. According to the poll, 69 percent say that their information is “very” or “somewhat secure,” while 26 percent say it is either “not too secure” or “not at all secure.”

The Heartbleed bug discovered this month affected the widely popular OpenSSL encryption tool, which is used by hundreds of thousands of websites, including giants like Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

A glitch in the security code made it possible to trick a computer into handing over personal information like names, passwords and other sensitive data for the last two years.

Few actual attacks have been reported, but scores of websites asked users to change their passwords, and tech giants have teamed up on a multimillion-dollar effort to prevent a similar type of glitch from ever happening again.

The Pew study surveyed 1,501 adults last week.