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Zeroday exploit for critical Log4j bug poses a grave threat to the Internet

Zeroday exploit for critical Log4j bug poses a grave threat to the Internet

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A newly discovered vulnerability affecting Java versions of Minecraft makes it possible for miscreants to execute malicious code on servers and end-user devices running the wildly popular game, several websites said on Thursday.

And as if a vulnerability of this magnitude in the world’s best-selling game wasn’t serious enough, the breadth and immediacy of the bug may be worse still. Exploit code has become available for the underlying vulnerability, which resides in Log4j, a logging utility that’s built into some of the Internet’s most widely used development frameworks, all but ensuring that Minecraft isn’t the only major application to be affected.

There already are reports servers performing Internet-wide scans in attempts to locate vulnerable servers.

What it means for Minecraft

The Spigot gaming forum said that Minecraft versions 1.8.8 through the most current 1.18 release are all vulnerable, as did other popular game servers such as Wynncraft. Gaming server and news site Hypixel, meanwhile, urged Minecraft players to take extra care.

“The issue can allow remote access to your computer through the servers you log into,” site representatives wrote. “That means any public server you go onto creates a risk of being hacked.”

Reproducing exploits for this vulnerability aren’t straightforward because success depends not only on the Minecraft version running but also the version of the Java framework the Minecraft app is running on top of. It appears that older Java versions have fewer built-in security protections that make exploits easier.

Spigot and other sources have said that adding the JVM flag -Dlog4j2.formatMsgNoLookups=true neutralizes the threat for most Java versions. Spigot and many other services have already inserted the flag into the games they make available to users.

To add the flag users should go to their launcher, open the installations tab, select the installation in use and click “…” > “Edit” > “MORE OPTIONS”, and paste -Dlog4j2.formatMsgNoLookups=true at the end of the JVM flags.

What it means for everyone else

As noted earlier, the code making this vulnerability possible resides in Log4j, which is incorporated into popular frameworks, including Apache Struts2, Apache Solr, Apache Druid, and Apache Flink. That means that a dizzying number of third-party apps may also be vulnerable to exploits that carry the same high severity as those threatening Minecraft users.

“The Minecraft side seems like a perfect storm, but I suspect we are going to see affected applications and devices continue to be identified for a long time,” HD Moore, founder and CTO of network discovery platform Rumble said. “This is a big deal for environments tied to older Java runtimes: Web front ends for various network appliances, older application environments using legacy APIs, and Minecraft servers, due to their dependency on older versions for mod compatibility.”

At the time this post went live, there wasn’t much known about the vulnerability. One of the only sources providing a tracking number for the vulnerability was Github, which said it’s CVE-2021-44228. Security firm Cyber Kendra on late Thursday reported a Log4j RCE Zero day being dropped on the Internet and concurred with Moore that “there are currently many popular systems on the market that are affected.”

Cyber Kendra said that in November the Alibaba Cloud security team disclosed a vulnerability in Log4j2—the successor to Log4j—that stemmed from recursive analysis functions, which attackers could exploit by constructing malicious requests that triggered remote code execution. The firm strongly urged people to use the latest version of Log4j2 available here.

The Apache Foundation has yet to disclose the vulnerability, although this page acknowledges the recent fixing of a serious vulnerability.

For the time being, people should pay close attention to this vulnerability and its potential to trigger high-impact attacks against a wide variety of apps and services. For Minecraft users, that means steering clear of unknown servers or untrustworthy users. For users of open-source software, it means checking to see if it relies on Log4j or Log4j2 for logging. This is a breaking story. Updates will follow if more information becomes available.

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