A lot has gone down in the last two years in the cybersecurity realm. A year ago, a zero-day discovered vulnerability rocked the cybersecurity world, but even at the year’s end, there are signs that the Log4j vulnerability is still here. The bug, Log4Shell or CVE-2021-44228, was and is still an easy vulnerability to exploit in the Java logging library Apache Log4j. The Log4j vulnerability upon discovery was a massive concern because of its pervasive nature. It was and continues to be embedded in a wide range of services, software tools, and applications written in Java and used by individuals and organizations worldwide.
Now, after months of refining last December and almost a year of patching, Log4j is no longer a universal threat as it once was. Yet, cybersecurity experts and researchers emphasize that the vulnerability is still present in too many systems across the globe. The vulnerability remains a threat because many organizations and their suppliers have yet to update their systems. At the same time, many may still not be aware that the logging library is a concern.
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Every year, critical vulnerabilities are discovered that require immediate attention, but Log4j was different in this case; it was easy to exploit wherever it was present. Log4j vulnerabilities leave organizations open to cyberattacks and cyber criminals who can scan and exploit vulnerable devices. Developers use logging utilities to record operations in each application. So, all attackers need to do to exploit Log4Shell is to get the system to log a specific string of code. That is when they overtake their target and install malware or deploy other online attacks.
Many organizations do not have a requisite accounting for their system's software, so identifying and patching vulnerabilities is more complicated. Another challenge is that even if organizations have a record of all the software it bought or deployed, those programs may contain software components such as open-source libraries and utilities like Log4j- that the end customer did not choose or isn’t aware of. This leads to vulnerabilities like Log4j and a never-ending patching cycle, where organizations are either unaware, they are vulnerable, or do not recognize the importance of upgrading.
Attackers continue to actively exploit Log4Shell anywhere they can, from Iranian and Chinese state-backed attackers deploying the exploit in their campaigns to hackers looking for ways into the target’s systems. The more concerning aspect of the vulnerability is that even a year later, more Log4j downloads from the Apache repository and other repository servers still contain vulnerable versions of Log4j. Simply put, software developers are still maintaining systems, running vulnerable versions of utilities, or developing vulnerable software.
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