System vulnerability leaves millions open to catastrophic issues

By Anita Jaynes on 26 September, 2014

Security professionals are working to fix a system vulnerability, named Shellshock, a major system flaw related to Bash, a computer program installed on millions of computers around the world. 

Many computer users believe that only Windows-based technology can be hit with shockingly worrying issues. Experts believe that this huge security flaw will only affect Apple’s Max OS X and Linux operating systems and Windows users remain safe.

Terry O’Kelly, Service Delivery Manager at Wiltshire-based IT, cloud and communications firm, Thirdline, said the flaw could be “catastrophic”.

“Security firms globally have rated the bug as ten-out-of-ten for its severity, but low for complexity.” He said. “Hackers are able to exploit users using just three lines of code.

“I believe that this problem will affect up to 500 million systems around the world and will take years to fix. At the moment, there is no information on how users can protect themselves.”

Terry O’Kelly has put together a breakdown of what this security flaw means to the average computer user.

What this mean to the average person?

Bash stands for bourne-again shell, this is the name of the user interaction part of computers. For example, the clicks you make and the tasks you run, including opening and closing items.

Windows computers do not use Bash natively, so it will not be widely effected by this issue. The areas where users will be effected are online banking sites and social media platforms like Facebook.

Unlike Heartbleed, which allowed hackers to spy on computers, changing passwords will not make any difference to the outcome if your computer or device becomes effected.

A single hacker targeting a single machine or small network could have serious local effects, but with the right business backup you could protect your data.

However given the new capability this flaw brings to the hacker toolkit, if this security vulnerability was used to upload a virus to a wider online network, like the ones that control power and water along with ATMs, we are looking at a bigger problem.

Be aware – some nefarious people will always use a crisis like this to try and trick people with phishing emails. Be very wary of any emails you receive asking for personal data, or recommending you run any software to fix the Shellshock bug. You can verify this by contacting the company the email seems to be from.

To find out more about Thirdline, visit

Pictured above: Terry O’Kelly, Service Delivery Manager at Thirdline.