Driving assessment

Cybersecurity Review Board: Exploiting ‘Endemic’ Log4j Flaw Will Evolve

While a “meaningful” Log4j-based attack on critical infrastructure systems has yet to be seen, a panel established by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warns that “endemic vulnerability” will continue to plague organizations for years to come as operations evolve.

The prediction is part of a 52-page report dissecting the ecosystem’s exploitation, mitigation efforts, and systemic security challenges surrounding the Apache Log4j flaw in the more than six months since its public disclosure. The report is the first published by the Cyber ​​​​​​Safety Review Board (CSRB), a group of industry leaders from the private and public sectors that was commissioned by DHS in February to identify key lessons learned and to develop non-binding recommendations based on these lessons. , significant cybersecurity events.

After reviewing publicly available documents and speaking with developers, end users and advocates from 40 separate organizations, the CSRB highlighted what went “right” and “wrong” in the days leading up to and followed the disclosure of the Log4j flaw. Both the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and the ecosystem recognized the criticality of the flaw and the urgency of fixes at the time of disclosure, with vendors and government organizations offering quick advice and tools, the report found. advice. However, the process of updating vulnerable software has been arduous, time-consuming and costly for the organizations involved. At the same time, security risks continue to exist in the open source software ecosystem, primarily due to limited resources.

“To reduce the recurrence of the introduction of vulnerabilities like Log4j, it is critical that public and private sector stakeholders create centralized resources and security support structures that can support the open source community in the future. “, according to the report, released this week. “The Council predicts that, given the ubiquity of Log4j, vulnerable versions will remain in systems for the next decade, and we will see exploitation evolve to effectively take advantage of weaknesses.”

The flaw was first reported on November 24, 2021 by a security engineer from the Alibaba Cloud Security team based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Meanwhile, while ASF was working on a patch for the flaw, another PRC-based cybersecurity firm, BoundaryX, disclosed the flaw on WeChat before ASF released an update. While there was had been previous speculation that the PRC or another country could have exploited the flaw before it was disclosed, when reviewing Log4j-based attacks, the board found no evidence confirming that PRC threat actors, Iran, North Korea or Russia had exploited the flaw before until its publication date of December 9, 2021. While the first known exploitation of the flaw occurred on December 1, 2021, the activity was related to limited exploit testing of the Log4j flaw in the wild by Alibaba.