April 10, 2014 — -- The "Heartbleed" bug that may have affected more than half a million websites has taken on a life of its own -- in media headlines and social media chatter -- despite the fact that many people still have no clue what it is. The public can thank a little-known Finnish designer for the heightened awareness of the online security threat.
Leena Snidate, a graphic designer for Codenomicon, is based in the cyber-security firm's headquarters in Oulu, Finland. She graduated from art school in Finland in 2009 and has worked with Codenomicon since 2011.
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The company, which has a presence in Singapore and Silicon Valley, says it makes "your digital world safer," focused on "vulnerability management and situational awareness of cyber abuse."
The company first learned about this bug during the first week of April when performing routine testing on its new tool SafeGuard. Google researcher Neel Mehta also is credited with discovering the problem.
"The vulnerability was very serious," said Hope Frank, Codenomicon's chief marketing officer. "Our team believed it needed an approachable logo adjacent to the message. We needed it to evoke strong emotion yet not elicit fear."
The company soon published a website with more information at heartbleed.com.
Mark McCurley, senior information security advisor of IDT911 Consulting, said the "Heartbleed" bug is the first computer bug/virus to have a logo and branding, saying previously well-known bugs and viruses did not have logos or dedicated websites to alert the general public of the bug or virus.
Frank said of Snidate, "I highly respect her integrity. She had very little time to complete before we launched heartbleed.com. We decided it was quite serious and therefore must be an exceptionally memorable logo given the powerful name. She created a minimal blood-red modern icon in less than two hours."
Snidate said she was "glad my logo has a life of its own now."
Frank said she was "inspired by all the fresh creative we are seeing in social media."
"The new creative has clearly enhanced the reach of our Heartbleed message," Frank said.
Bugs and viruses get their names from various sources, McCurley said. Typically the researcher who discovers the bug or virus coins its name.
The Code Red Worm was named after the soft drink Mountain Dew since the researchers were drinking it during the time they discovered the malware, he said.
The original name of the Stuxnet worm, discovered in 2010, was "Rootkit.Tmphider," McCurley said. Symantec renamed it to "W32.Stuxnet" where it took on the commonly known name of Stuxnet. Its current name is derived from a combination of some keywords in the software (".stub" and "mrxnet.sys").
But you usually won't find a virus named after someone with malicious intent.
"Researchers never name a virus, malware after the developer so as not to give any undeserved attention," McCurley said.