IT Brief Asia logo
Technology news for Asia's largest enterprises
Story image

The aftermath of Log4j - What can be done to protect businesses?

By Shannon Williams
Mon 24 Jan 2022

Last year's Apache Log4j vulnerability created a lot of chaos, so what can be done to protect companies from the security implications?

Tim Mackey, principal security strategist with Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Centre, says that while it might be tempting to view a major vulnerability as an indication of open source somehow being deficient, the reality is far from that. 

"Open source software is not more or less secure than commercial software, and in reality most commercial software either includes or runs on open source technologies," he says,. 

"Open source simply means that the software is developed in a manner where the source code is available to anyone who wants it."

Mackey says, "What we are seeing with the Log4J response from the Apache Log4J team is exactly what we'd expect to see a team that is taking the software they produce seriously and being responsive to the needs of their install base. 

"Considering that they are volunteers, such a response is indicative of the pride of ownership we often see within open source communities," he says.

"In reality, an incident like Log4J is likely to improve open source development as a whole much in the same way that Heartbleed improved development practices of both open and closed source development teams."

Mackey says common thought pattern is that there should be a commercial replacement to protect companies from security implications after Log4j, but one that misunderstands how software development really works. 

"Every software component has what is known as an interface. That interface might be in the form of an API if its a web service, or it might represent the functions that can be called when the component is loaded into an application," he says. 

"What that interface looks like, how it behaves, what types of data it takes and in what format, are all examples of decisions the development team creating the component make as they write the component. 

"Those decisions can also change as new features are implemented or as the code evolves. Log4J has an interface for each of its major versions, and they are not the same," Mackey says.

"For a commercial replacement of any component to exist, there must be an available market for it. In the case of Log4J, the component logs message data to a log file. There is nothing sexy about it, and there are many other ways of logging data than just Log4J."

He says that means there is not much of a commercial software market for a replacement. 

"But, lets assume someone was willing to make that investment to have a commercial replacement for Log4J. In that case, they would need to both re-implement the current Log4J interface and then write what is presumed to be more secure code," Mackey says. 

"The concept of open source somehow being less secure than commercial software may have been true decades ago, but that is far from true today, but let's assume that our fictitious company was able to create a perfect logging utility that faithfully reproduced the Log4J interface. 

"Once they've created that replacement, they need to market it and ensure that it doesn't break any software using Log4J."

Mackey says detection of vulnerabilities in open source isn't a problem, but detection of software defects representing a weakness that could be exploited is an important topic. 

"This distinction is important as vulnerabilities might not represent flaws in code, but instead flaws in deployment configuration or changes in hardware," Mackey says.

"It is important to note that open source and closed source software have an equal potential for security issues, but with open source it is possible for anyone to identify those issues," he explains.

Since its possible for anyone to identify issues, Mackey says the question really is one of how many people are actually attempting to identify issues in open source and how diligent those efforts are. 

"Part of the problem is a sentiment that has consumers or users of open source projects behaving as if they expect the open source project to behave like a commercial software vendor," he says.

"If you look at the issues list of any reasonably popular open source project on GitHub, you'll see feature requests and comments about when certain problems might be resolved. The modern open source movement was founded on the principle that if you didn't like the way the code was working, then you were free to modify it and address whatever gaps in functionality that were perceived to exist. Feature requests in GitHub issues and complaints about serviceability have an implicit expectation that a product manager is on the receiving end of those requests and that they will be added to a roadmap and eventually be released all for free."

Mackey says that in reality, gaps in functionality and even in perceived bugs represent opportunities not to request free programming services but instead to contribute to the future success of code that is significantly important to the person complaining for them to complain. 

"Yes, some people wont know the programming language used by the project, but to expect other people to prioritise a complaint from an unknown third party over changes that solve problems for active contributors isn't realistic. As much as anything, open source functions through the altruism of contributors," he says.

"Over recent years, we've heard core contributors for popular open source projects express frustration about the profits made by large businesses from the use of their software. While its easy to relate to someone putting their energy into a project only to have a third party profit from the efforts, the reality is that if that third party is profiting from the efforts of an open source development team, then they should be contributing to its future success. 

"If they don't then they run not only the risk that the code in question might change in ways they didn't expect, but also that when security issues are identified and resolved that they might have delays in applying those fixes," Mackey says.

After all, if a business isnt taking the time to engage with teams creating the software that powers their business, then its likely they don't know where all the software powering their business originates and cant reliably patch it."

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
DDoS
NT selects Radware to improve telecom cyber defenses
National Telecom Public Company (NT) has chosen Radware to strengthen the cyber defences of its international telecommunications infrastructure.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Sustainability
Intel unveils new investments for data center sustainability
Intel has announced two new investments, continuing its efforts to create more sustainable data center technology.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS announces new products amid cloud portfolio success
Analytics and AI company SAS is deepening its broad industry portfolio with offerings that support life sciences, energy, and martech.
Story image
Sustainability
Daikin and SP Group to build new energy efficient district cooling system
The project, set to be complete by 2025, will create a system with a cooling capacity of up to 36,000 refrigerant tonnes (RT). 
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Sift
Navigating digital fraud and dispute can be tough. The Q4 2021 Digital Trust & Safety Index by Sift can give helpful insights to your business on keeping safe and prepared online.
Link image
Story image
Fintech
Airwallex launches new bank feed integration with NetSuite
Airwallex has launched a new bank feed integration with NetSuite, developed in partnership with NetSuite solution partner, Onlineone.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Sift
Knowing the mechanics of retail fraud can greatly improve your chances of preventing an online attack. Read the new infographic by Sift to discover how your business can be prepared.
Link image
Sift
Connected e-commerce apps are the future of retail and higher revenue growth. Read the new ebook by Sift to find out how to maximise your business potential.
Link image
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Ransomware
Ransomware hits 65% of organisations in Singapore
Next-generation cybersecurity firm Sophos has released its annual survey and review of real-world ransomware experiences in the State of Ransomware 2022.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Sustainability
G8, ODIN enter agreement to develop renewable charging tower
G8 has entered into a memorandum of understanding with ODIN to develop a charging tower powered entirely by renewable wind energy.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Trading up: It's time to swap core systems for flexible digital applications
This year will see more oranisations planning and commencing high tech renovations that will shake up the way they operate.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Sift
Having secure retail solutions can be a make or break factor for a customers satisfaction. Sift has the expert tools and expertise to keep retail practices safe and customers happy.
Link image
Story image
Infrastructure
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Wireless
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
CFOs using digital workers and AI to prevent unnecessary loss
New technology is now allowing CFOs to use digital workers to automate their accounting processes, making it easier for them to avoid unnecessary losses.