Log4j Vulnerability: What is it and What is its Impact?

Log4Shell is mainly a vulnerability which is affecting hundreds of thousands of computers while involving an obscure software named log4j. This software is capable of recording all kinds of activities going on under the supervision of a number of computer systems. There had been thousands of attempts to exploit the same vulnerability. So, let’s take a look at what log4j vulnerability actually is and see how it works.

Whats the basic purpose of log4j?

Log4j’s job is to record events including the routine operations of the system as well as the errors. It also lets the system users and administrators know about these errors. One of the best examples of log4j’s work is when you click an unethical web link and get an error 404.

The web server you’re using to open that link informs you that you cannot access any such webpage. As far as the software applications are concerned, a similar kind of message is conveyed. For example, in Minecraft, server uses log4j to let the user know about total memory.

Impact of Log4j Vulnerability

Log4j vulnerabilities have impacted more than 8% Java Packages all over the world. The attackers are allowed by such vulnerabilities for performing remote code execution after they exploit the JNDI feature which is already insecure. This feature had been enabled by default in different versions of logging library log4j.

Log4j vulnerability has managed to captivate the entire ecosystem of information security due to its impact worldwide as well as the severity. Log4j, as a powerful logging tool, is used by millions of projects and thousands of computer systems across the industry. The lack of visibility of the user for who should they be dependent on is making the patching really difficult and because of that, there is a difficulty in determining the full blast radius of the vulnerability as well.

How Widespread is Log4j Vulnerability?

As mentioned earlier, there are more or less than 8% of the packages that have a minimum of one version affected by this vulnerability. Most of the affected artifacts are because of indirect dependencies meaning that log4j has no direct relation with artifact.

Log4j Vulnerability Dependency
Log4j Vulnerability Dependency

An artifact that was affected by log4j is considered to be good if it doesn’t depend on it anymore. So, in order to do that, log4j maintainers have to respond as quickly as possible. Let’s take a look at how dependency and vulnerability are related to each other using the following picture.

Log4j Vulnerability Patch
Log4j Vulnerability Patch

The position of log4j in a software ecosystem is one of the main concerns. Logging is one of those features that makes log4j widespread enough to be considered. Apart from some of the popular games such as Minecraft, Log4j is also used in Amazon Web Services, Apple iCloud and in different security tools also. This actually means hackers have a menu to decide which part they should target. This is quite similar to a menu offered in a hotel and we have to choose what we want to eat. Service providers, security researchers, home users and source code developers are some of the options available for hackers to choose.

Bigger companies already have arrangements to patch their systems up in order to avoid any malicious activity. Amazon is the best example of it. However, many other organizations do not seem to be ready for any such attack and they end up facing the music in the forms of hacking attacks as a result of which they lose access to their important data. There are some organizations that don’t even know what they should do in this regard and fortune is never kind on them just because of their own laziness.

How Long Does it take for Log4j Vulnerability to be Fixed?

If a dependency chain has vulnerability in depth, more steps are required to fix that which is not an easy task. It’s hard to say anything about how long it’ll take for log4j vulnerability to be fixed but it may take 2 days to a few years to get the job done completely. All these things depend mainly on the maintainers, consumers and information security teams.

Conclusion

Log4j may be present in a number of ways in different softwares and you will have to contact a log4j developer in order to fix the things. This may take a lot of time also and the hackers may end up getting whatever they were planning to get. So, make sure that you make early arrangements to avoid any malicious activity.

 

The Log4j Vulnerability
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