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These are very challenging times when it comes to maintaining a robust cyber security posture. Present day IT infrastructures and processes are so interwoven that merely securing the internal network of an enterprise is just not enough.

What makes this already complex situation even more challenging is the constant exploitation of vulnerabilities by cyber criminals. Needless to say that cyber security mechanisms and protocols always need to stay ahead of these threats.

What is the Log4j Vulnerability?

This vulnerability was pointed out by the Apache Software Foundation in a security advisory. It relates to a remote code execution that has impacted Apache’s Log4j Java based logging utility.

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How Serious is Log4j?

USA based The MITRE Corporation has rated the Log4j vulnerability as a critical severity. According to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), Log4j has been assigned a score of 10/10, which is quite alarming in itself.

Cyber attackers across the globe did not waste much time to start exploiting this vulnerability. So much so that the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (USCISA) has to issue alerts, stressing upon organizations to patch their systems.

How Widespread is the Impact of Log4j?

According to Gartner, this vulnerability is prevalent and its impact spans across enterprise applications, embedded systems as well as the sub-components. Given the nature of this vulnerability, the list of programs impacted by it keeps on growing bigger.

The global cyber security community is constantly populating the list of programs and platforms, which could have been impacted by this weakness. However, the security community has warned that this list of impacted programs is constantly growing.

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Impact of Log4j On Non-Java Platforms

Despite primarily being a Java based vulnerability, exposure in general is highly likely. This widespread exposure is due to the various supplier systems such as Software as a Service (SaaS) based vendors that are highly likely to be using Java in some form or the other.

What if Log4j is Exploited?

In case of un-patched systems, attackers will be capable of taking over entire computer servers, apps and devices alike. It will also be possible for cyber attackers to infiltrate entire enterprise networks, by exploiting the Log4j vulnerability.

Thus far, there have been reported incidents of automated threats such as malware and ransomware that have already exploited the Log4j vulnerability. Being a logging based vulnerability, the attack threshold or barrier is very low in this case.

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The Log4j vulnerability lies at the “pre-authentication” tier, thus eliminating the need for an attacker to first login to a compromised employee device. This in turn further reduces the reaction time enterprises have in terms of threat response.

How Should CIOs and CISOs React to Log4j?

Given the nature of this vulnerability, Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) need to adopt a proactive approach towards this vulnerability, or it might be too late. Some of those steps include:-

  • The Log4j vulnerability needs to be an absolute and immediate priority.
  • An in-depth audit of the applications, website and systems needs to be conducted.
  • Give special attention to the parts of your organization with internet access.
  • After an internal audit, the whole focus needs to shift over to remote employees.
  • It is vital that the routers and devices of your remote employees must be up to date.

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