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Log4Shell

Log4Shell

(also Log4Shell vulnerability)

Log4Shell definition

A dangerous security vulnerability in Log4j, a Java-based logging utility that tracks specific applications and sends diagnostic messages. The vulnerability relies on log4j’s formatting language being able to trigger code — so by logging messages with malicious scripts, hackers could make the affected devices do what they want.

Log4Shell is a zero-day exploit — while it hit the news in December 2021, it had existed unnoticed since 2013. The Apache Software Foundation, which is responsible for the Log4j project, classified Log4Shell as a “critical” vulnerability and gave it the maximum severity rating of 10 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

Real Log4Shell examples

  • Nation-state activity groups from China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkey were observed by Microsoft to use the Log4Shell vulnerability in attacks.
  • VMware Horizon servers were targeted by hackers using Log4Shell, as reported by the UK's National Health Service (NHS).

Stopping the Log4Shell vulnerability

  • An upgrade to the latest version of Log4j. The Apache Software Foundation claims that it got rid of Log4Shell in later versions of Log4j.
  • Updates to individual software. Most companies released patches specifically addressing the Log4Shell vulnerability soon after it came to light.
  • Monitoring your network for suspicious activity. Regularly monitoring the network helps detect cyberattacks and mitigate actions taken by infected devices.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security