What is OpenSSL?

Like everyone else, I’ve heard a lot about OpenSSL since the Heartbleed security flaw was discovered. I understand that it is intended to encrypt website traffic, but is OpenSSL just the actual software that is supposed to do this? It seems hard to believe that it took two years for such a major flaw to be discovered.

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Story added 14. April 2014, content source with full text you can find at link above.