What Is the Log4j Vulnerability and the New Cyber Risks?

Log4J has been described as the ‘most serious’ cyber risk ever.

What Is the Log4j Vulnerability and the New Cyber Risks?

To understand Log4j and the cyber security risks it poses, it is worth reassessing the impact it had following its discovery.

On the 9th December 2021, a critical vulnerability was found in the popular Log4J library. Within a day, all major software companies were panic-stricken, figuring out how best to protect their products from catastrophic breaches of the Log4j vulnerability.

The threat was a complete remote-control takeover, with hackers exploiting the custom code for logging messages to steal information, taking command of the targeted systems and the users communicating with the affected server.

Governments and multinationals soon followed, saying little publicly, but switching to crisis mode behind closed doors (Belgium’s Defence Ministry were the first government agency to confirm a cyberattack).

By the end of that first week, Jen Easterly, director of CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Director) had called the Log4j vulnerability the “most serious” cyber risk she’d seen in her decades-long career, and one that could take years to address.

The ubiquity of Log4j, and the ease with which it was exploited, makes this an especially worrying bug for business leaders. Home computers, start-ups, critical services, and national infrastructures are all susceptible to cyberattacks involving the Log4j vulnerability.

There is still some confusion around exactly what cyber risks Log4j presents, and uncertainty as to how and why it was exploited – and if the risks can ever be mitigated. Below, our cyber security experts have crafted a Log4j introduction designed to answer all your Log4j queries.

What is Log4j?

Log4j is a logging framework for Java. Logging frameworks are used to output information from your application, either to files or to a console. Logging is important to debug and monitor applications and helps with error reporting.

It provides a framework for programmatically creating, assigning and controlling loggers, which are objects that manage the logging of information or errors. Loggers can be configured at runtime to output their logs to several different locations, such as consoles, databases, files, or remote servers.

Log4J is vastly popular because it’s an open-source software, and developers are provided its source code. This type of publicly accessible software can therefore be modified or adapted to the preferences of any developer.

What is the Log4j vulnerability?

Hackers could remotely control the Log4j through a malicious script, causing serious damage to companies and state agencies. Log4j contains critical vulnerabilities that can be manipulated by hackers to compromise the server and control it remotely.

It was vulnerable enough for a hacker to simply insert malicious code into one of the configuration files, compromising all data on the system, as well as its entire network infrastructure.

With this vulnerability, it is also possible to create a remote access Trojan horse that gives hackers full access to highly secure or sensitive information.

Because Log4j is a dependency, it can be complex to identify, remedy and test all the places that businesses use it. For example, many businesses use third-party developers, so tracing affected software can be practically impossible.

How to mitigate cyber security risks?

How to prevent a security breach in the workplace is a problem endured by all networking specialists. And, as Log4j has shown, these security breaches are a problem that is growing in complexity and dimension.

When we consider that 43% of all cyber-attacks target small business, of which 60% will be out of business within six months, the importance of risk management in cyber security remains critical.

Evaluating how secure your business is ensures two things. First, via a Cyber Risk Rating report, you can measure the financial impact of cyber-attack specific to your company. Additionally, the report will reveal the technical and compliance susceptibilities within your business network.

Technical and Compliance reports will also correlate findings to industry open standards and best practices – and all that is required is a URL or domain name.

To find your cybersecurity solution, visit our Let’s Talk Cyber Risk page. Or speak to our experts to discover how to mitigate business security threats today.

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