It has been over 18 months since the log4j vulnerability sent shockwaves through the cybersecurity community, yet recent reports indicate that a staggering 40% of log4j downloads are still vulnerable to exploitation and 72% of organizations are still vulnerable to log4j, as of Oct 1, 2022. In May 2023 alone our F5 Distributed Cloud Platform helped protect customers from over 1 million log4j attack attempts, which were successfully mitigated by the web app and API protection capabilities.
This is simply an example of one CVE highlighting the challenges that persist as organizations struggle keeping up with management of CVE remediation, and it’s a problem that is only going to continue to grow larger. The number of CVEs published is accelerating, and F5 Labs expects the rate at which new CVEs are going to be published in a typical week will balloon to 500 a week by 2025. It’s been almost 2 years since the log4j vulnerability was exposed, and organizations are still playing catch-up as the broader problem continues to evolve. Despite the availability of patches and updates, numerous factors contribute to persistent vulnerabilities like log4j.
The sheer number and frequency of new vulnerabilities leaves organizations struggling to keep up (and possibly unaware) as they arise, either due to limited information or resources for staying up to date on new advisories. Once a vulnerability is identified, patching vulnerable systems can be complex, especially in large organizations with interconnected systems, requiring significant effort and coordination, leading to long patching cycles. This is made more complex by the mix of legacy and modern infrastructure, systems, and applications that exists in most organizations, which may create compatibility issues, high costs, or inconvenient time commitments when trying to implement critical updates. Further, complicated patching and updating are indirect dependencies that can exist within software supply chains or infrastructure components which may be a blind spot, even if an organization doesn't directly use the vulnerable system. Just like the software code itself, human error and oversight can also hinder mitigation efforts, as developers or administrators may overlook the need for patching or misconfigure systems. Lastly, organizations with complex IT infrastructures or risk-averse cultures may experience delays in adopting patches due to extensive testing, concerns about disruptions, or competing business priorities. Compounding all this complexity, most organizations are understaffed, especially in the security field. So, how are they supposed to keep up while they work feverishly to patch and update systems and applications?
Patching happens, but often (like in this case with log4j) it doesn’t happen fast enough and there are new CVEs rapidly being identified, so it’s essential that organizations have a comprehensive layer of security in front of their applications no matter how patched and up to date they are. Protecting both internal and web-facing apps with a solution like F5’s Distributed Cloud Web App and API protection (WAAP) is crucial to fill the vulnerability gap while organizations work through their patch and update backlogs.
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