The Heartbleed Bug, a fault in the security system used by many Internet sites, has become a major global brand due to the slick marketing used to get its message across. Early adoption of a funky logo and hysterical rhetoric in the press has quickly established Heartbleed as an entity, and once the security issue has been resolved, Heartbleed is expected to move into a mainstream activity in the IT security arena.
The Heartbleed effect is certainly gaining traction. Over the next two weeks, the traffic generated by people reading about Heartbleed and changing their passwords is expected to push legitimate usage of the web ahead of Internet pornography for the first time. And official Heartbleed t-shirts will be available under the Tesco F&F brand from Monday.
Previous attempts to turn a bug into a business have not always been successful, however. 1999's Millennium Bug was hugely anticipated, had its own logo and involved a massive publicity campaign, including newspaper, radio and TV ads. Unfortunately, the predicted effect of the Millennium Bug with satellites falling out of the sky and nuclear reactors exploding did not materialise, and the bug was soon forgotten.
This time around supporters of the Heartbleed Bug will need to make sure of maximum impact if they want Heartbleed to have any chance of long-term success. So far there has only been scare-mongering and hand-wringing, but expect a major financial catastrophe to be announced soon. It is just too good an opportunity for politicians around the world to use when they are asked where all the money went.