How about a Decade of Vulnerability? Great for Bad Actors

August 10, 2022

IT departments may be tired of dealing with vulnerabilities associated with Log4j, revealed late last year, but it looks like the problem will not die down any time soon. The Register reveals, “Homeland Security Warns: Expect Log4j Risks for ‘a Decade or Longer’.” Because the open-source tool is so popular, it can be difficult to track down and secure all instances of its use within an organization. Reporter Jessica Lyons Hardcastle tell us:

“Organizations can expect risks associated with Log4j vulnerabilities for ‘a decade or longer,’ according to the US Department of Homeland Security. The DHS’ Cyber Safety Review Board‘s inaugural report [PDF] dives into the now-notorious vulnerabilities discovered late last year in the Java world’s open-source logging library. The bugs proved to be a boon for cybercriminals as Log4j is so widely used, including in cloud services and enterprise applications. And because of this, miscreants soon began exploiting the flaws for all kinds of illicit activities including installing coin miners, stealing credentials and data, and deploying ransomware.”

Fortunately, no significant attacks on critical infrastructure systems have been found. Yet. The write-up continues:

“‘ICS operators rarely know what software is running on their XIoT devices, let alone know if there are instances of Log4j that can be exploited,’ Thomas Pace, a former Department of Energy cybersecurity lead and current CEO of NetRise, told The Register. NetRise bills itself as an ‘extended IoT’ (xIoT) security firm. ‘Just because these attacks have not been detected does not mean that they haven’t happened,’ Pace continued. ‘We know for a fact that threat actors are exploiting known vulnerabilities across industries. Critical infrastructure is no different.'”

Security teams have already put in long hours addressing the Log4j vulnerabilities, often forced to neglect other concerns. We are told one unspecified US cabinet department has spent some 33,000 hours guarding its own networks, and the DHS board sees no end in sight. The report classifies Log4j as an “endemic vulnerability” that could persist for 10 years or more. That is a long time for one cyber misstep to potentially trip up so many organizations. See the article for suggestions on securing systems that use Log4j and other open-source software.

Cynthia Murrell, August 10, 2022

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