A year later, Log4Shell still lingers

72% of organizations remain vulnerable to the Log4Shell vulnerability as of October 1, 2022, Tenable‘s latest telemetry study has revealed, based on data collected from over 500 million tests.

Log4Shell 2022

A vulnerability that’s difficult to eradicate

When Log4Shell was discovered in December 2021, organizations around the world scrambled to determine their risk.

In the weeks following its disclosure, organizations significantly reallocated resources and invested tens of thousands of hours to identification and remediation efforts. One federal cabinet department reported that its security team devoted 33,000 hours to Log4j vulnerability response alone.

Tenable telemetry found that one in 10 assets – including desktops, laptops, servers, storage devices, network devices, phones, tablets, virtual machines, web applications, IoT devices cloud instances and containers – was vulnerable to Log4Shell as of December 2021. October 2022 data showed improvements, with 2.5% of assets vulnerable. Yet nearly one third (29%) of these assets had recurrences of Log4Shell after full remediation was achieved.

“Full remediation is very difficult to achieve for a vulnerability that is so pervasive and it’s important to keep in mind that vulnerability remediation is not a ‘one and done’ process,” said Bob Huber, Chief Security Officer at Tenable.

“While an organization may have been fully remediated at some point, as they’ve added new assets to their environments, they are likely to encounter Log4Shell again and again. Eradicating Log4Shell is an ongoing battle that calls for organizations to continually assess their environments for the flaw, as well as other known vulnerabilities.”

Other key findings

  • 28% of organizations across the globe have fully remediated Log4Shell as of October 1, 2022, a 14-point improvement from May 2022
  • 53% of organizations were vulnerable to Log4j during the time period of the study, which underscores the pervasive nature of Log4j and the necessary ongoing efforts to remediate even if full remediation was previously achieved
  • As of October 2022, 29% of vulnerable assets saw the reintroduction of Log4Shell after full remediation was achieved
  • Some industries are in better shape than others, with engineering (45%), legal services (38%), financial services (35%), non-profit (33%) and government (30%) leading the pack with the most organizations fully remediated. Approximately 28% of CISA-defined critical infrastructure organizations have fully remediated
  • Nearly one third of North American organizations have fully remediated Log4j (28%), followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa (27%), Asia-Pacific (25%) and Latin America (21%)
  • Similarly, North America is the top region with the percentage of organizations that have partially remediated (90%), Europe, Middle East and Africa (85%), Asia-Pacific (85%), and Latin America (81%).

The data highlights legacy vulnerability remediation challenges, which are the root cause of the majority of data breaches.

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