Given how many web sites were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, Parsons says there is likely to be a great deal of reflection on how it could have been identified sooner. Some cryptographers have estimated it may have existed for years before it was discovered last week.
This past weekend, Bloomberg News published a story alleging the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) knew about the Heartbleed vulnerability for two years and that it may have been using it to access personal data.
The NSA denies the charge, but Parsons says it raises serious questions about the Five Eyes, the surveillance partnership between Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, which collaborates to detect threats such as Heartbleed.
“This is supposed to be the sort of thing that they’re supposed to find and ideally report,” says Parsons.
“I think over the coming months, we need to figure out if they knew and if they didn’t, why didn’t they, because this is what we pay them to do. And if they did know, then why weren’t they protecting us?”