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Patch Up – Log4j and How to Avoid a Cybercrime Christmas

A vulnerability so dangerous that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure (CISA) Director Jen Easterly called it “one of the most serious [she’s] seen in [her] entire career, if not the most serious” arrived just in time for the holidays. On December 10, 2021, CISA and the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency (NSA) began alerting the public of a critical vulnerability within the Apache Log4j Java logging framework. Civilian government agencies have been instructed to mitigate against the vulnerability by Christmas Eve, and companies should follow suit.

The Log4j vulnerability allows threat actors to remotely execute code both on-premises and within cloud-based application servers, thereby obtaining control of the impacted servers. CISA expects the vulnerability to affect hundreds of millions of devices. This is a widespread critical vulnerability and companies should quickly assess whether, and to what extent, they or their service providers are using Log4j.

Immediate Recommendations

  • Immediately upgrade all versions of Apache Log4j to 2.15.0.

  • Ask your service providers whether their products or environment use Log4j, and if so, whether they have patched to the latest version. Helpfully, CISA sponsors a community-sourced GitHub repository with a list of software related to the vulnerability as a reference guide.

  • Confirm your security operations are monitoring internet-facing systems for indicators of compromise.

  • Review your incident response plan and ensure all response team information is up to date.

  • If your company is involved in an acquisition, discuss the security steps taken within the target company to address the Log4j vulnerability.

The versatility of this vulnerability has already attracted the attention of malicious nation-state actors. For example, government-affiliated cybercriminals in Iran and China have a “wish list” (no holiday pun intended) of entities that they are aggressively targeting with the Log4j vulnerability. Due to this malicious nation-state activity, if your company experiences a ransomware attack related to the Log4j vulnerability, it is particularly important to pay attention to potential sanctions-related issues.

Companies with additional questions about the Log4j vulnerability and its potential impact on technical threats and potential regulatory scrutiny or commercial liability are encouraged to contact counsel.

© 2022 Bracewell LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 350
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About this Author

Philip Bezanson, white collar criminal defense, securities, attorney, Bracewell
Managing Partner, Seattle

Philip J. Bezanson's practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, securities enforcement and regulatory matters.

Mr. Bezanson is a member of the Bracewell & Giuliani LLP team that has represented corporate and individual clients in recent high-profile and complex cases, including the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the George Washington Bridge lane closure and General Motors ignition switch investigations, "Pay to Play" cases in New York, New Mexico and Illinois, the stock options backdating cases, and a variety...

212-508-6138
Brittney Justice Litigation Attorney Bracewell
Associate

Brittney Justice represents clients across a range of industries in litigation and government enforcement and investigations in federal and state courts. She provides advice on diverse matters, including securities litigation, complex commercial disputes, environmental claims and government investigations. 

Prior to joining Bracewell, Brittney was a legal intern with Texas’ First Court of Appeals.

202.828.1744
Claire Cahoon Litigation Attorney Bracewell Law Firm
Associate

Claire Cahoon focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation and appeals. Prior to joining Bracewell, Claire served as a legal extern in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Education

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, J.D.

2020 - magna cum laude

University of Southern California, B.A.

2016 - magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

Texas

Languages

Spanish — proficient

713.221.1428
Seth DuCharme Insurance Lawyer Bracewell LLP
Partner

Seth DuCharme draws on his 14 years of experience as a senior-level law enforcement officer to advise companies and individuals on cases involving cybersecurity and breach response, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) diligence and litigation, export controls, sanctions compliance and anti-money laundering.

Seth served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York from 2008 through 2021. He held various positions at the Eastern District, including Chief of the Criminal Division, Chief of the National Security & Cybercrime Section, and Acting United...

212-508-6165
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