A new critical zero-day exploit is taking the world by storm. On 10th December 2021, Apache Software Foundation urged users to install a patch upgrade for a vulnerability identified in the Log4j Java library. According to several public sources, Chen Zhaojun of Alibaba identified and reported the exploit to Apache. This Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability is named CVE-2021-44228. The zero-day vulnerability is critical and has led to many attacks since its existence.
The Log4j exploit has impacted several major names, including Apple iCloud, Minecraft, Steam, all Apache Products, etc. The risk exploits Apache’s Java library, which countless applications and servers use. Hence, it is advised that Apple users stay cautious about several things, such as what applications they download and what information they share over the internet.
For instance, if you are using a web application connected to Apple iCloud or playing Minecraft on your iPhone or MacBook, there are chances that your data is being stolen.
Other major victims of the threat are web applications and even the websites running on Apple products. Several attacks are a result of outdated or poorly developed websites and applications. If websites are not created with security factors at the core, they can easily become vulnerable to many threats. It limelights the importance of hiring a reliable web design company with developers capable of building a secure website to prevent vulnerabilities.
The news is that something as mundane as changing an iPhone’s name on the server can also allow the threat actors to penetrate a system. That’s how easy it is for them to steal data. This might give you an idea of the criticality of the risk.
Since the flaw is inside a vast Java library, detecting it is challenging. This makes the vulnerability more severe. But, there are certain steps that system administrators can take to detect if a system is vulnerable or not.
- Create detection rules to identify malicious outbound traffic from Java processes
- Document all the vulnerable libraries and the adjacent hashes to create detection rules to alert any outbound traffic going from the libraries to malicious IP addresses
- Conduct thorough assessments across the entire IT infrastructure to detect any existing exploits
- Since an outbound connection is required from the Java component to exploit the vulnerability, monitoring the connections can help detect any risks
Since the vulnerability is very critical, Apache has been quick to develop and release a patch to overcome the challenge. Hence, the best way to mitigate the issue is by upgrading to the patch version, 12.5.0. This will provide a permanent solution. To avoid such problems, upgrading applications and systems to the latest versions is always advised. But, if you cannot upgrade, you still have some options.
Apache has given some guidelines for the purpose. According to the guidelines, you can tweak some configurations to remediate the issue. Moreover, you can take some other measures, such as:
- Implementing a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Restricting outbound requests made by applications at WAF
- Conducting regular vulnerability assessments
Remediating such vulnerabilities is a cybersecurity expert’s job. Hence, it might seem that the end-users cannot do anything about the Log4j exploit. But that’s not true. There are certain precautionary measures that even consumers can take.
What you can do is stay updated on the situation. You can look for the servers your application providers are using. If you are using any such application, you can connect with the application’s support team to check if they have updated Apache Log4j to the latest patch.
You must also remain cautious of the new applications you download. The exploit can be triggered even by user-supplied data. Thus, transferring data over the network can lead to a trigger, and the entire system can be exploited. Hence, it is advised that avoid installing new applications if not necessary. Also, install and use only trusted applications.
2021 is marked the worst year in terms of cybersecurity. From SolarWinds to Kaseya, we have seen several major cyberattacks this year. These attacks have become a great way for threat actors to gain financial benefits. Hence, the number of cyberattacks has increased exponentially, and the trend is likely to continue.
It is essential to create a cybersecurity culture in the business world and in general. Awareness will be the key to such a culture where everyone is educated about cybersecurity and human errors are reduced.