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How to Avoid Log4j Security Issues with Feature Flags
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How to Avoid Log4j Security Issues with Feature Flags

Log4j is an exploit that was discovered in an enormous amount of Java software. Luckily, feature flags help teams quickly resolve breaches like this.

Ann McArthur
Ann McArthur
January 17, 2022

Log4j: Detection, Impact and Fixes using Feature Flags

The Log4j flaw is an exploit that was discovered in an enormous amount of legacy Java software. Java is incredibly widespread and is used to write log files. Even if you don’t use it directly you may use a utility or framework that uses it. The exploit was discovered and broadcasted widely. This breach meant that someone could easily gain access to your website. If you have an application that’s available on the public internet, it was accessible to someone who might have hacked into your network and gained access to your application.

This applies to not only public sites but anyone where their application is on any network. This is where feature flags come in. Feature flags allow companies to get onto a deployment on main strategy with short running feature branches. This fix had to go to main and be done quickly. If you’re doing releases only every month, week, or quarter it causes an emergency since you have to make the update through your main but you may have code there that you’re not confident is ready to go out.

Feature flags help teams quickly resolve breaches like the Log4j issue. With feature flags, your main branch is always release ready meaning if you need to make a fast update you can ship it immediately.

What Is This Breach?

Log4j is a versatile piece of software that can be found in systems of products and services. Recently, it was discovered that Log4j is vulnerable to a security bug. The bug posed a severe risk to many consumer electronics, enterprise software, and web applications.

When vulnerabilities are found and exploited, it can result in a risk to private information, financial loss, and other irreversible harms. Companies and vendors who rely on Log4j should take action immediately to reduce the chance of risk.

Why Does It Matter? 

The maintainers of products and services that use versions of Log4j that are affected by these vulnerabilities need to fix them. Users should check with the vendors of these products/services for any security updates.

Nowadays, enterprise organizations need to rethink their security strategy in order to protect against the onslaught of new technologies. The old way of thinking that cybersecurity and physical security are two separate entities is no longer enough.

 Vendors should take care of their products as soon as possible. If there is a vulnerability, they need to identify it, mitigate the issue, and update the product as soon as they can. Vendors must keep their customers up-to-date by telling them about products that contain these vulnerabilities and urging them to update their software.

Data theft can be costly, but there are ways to protect yourself. A data breach in the United States usually costs $4.24 million, which is why many companies can’t afford to ignore it.

How to Avoid Security Issues

In this day and age, enterprise security must be a priority. External hacking attempts may seem scary, but fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the issue. Malicious outsiders may try to gain information about your company, tamper with data, or even physically tamper with devices. One type of external threat is phishing, which often occurs over email and social media platforms. Another common threat is IoT-device hacking: hackers will tamper with these devices so they can enter networks and steal data. 

It's important to know what you're up against. In today's world, the methods used to gain unauthorized access to spaces and data are becoming more advanced. Stay on top of your security by knowing these common security threats that impact enterprise organizations.

It's not just attackers outside the organization that are the problem. A surprising number of enterprise security breaches are committed by employees of the organization, stealing data, vandalizing equipment, and more. These are serious breaches that enterprises need to be vigilant to prevent.

Security teams must be prepared to protect companies from accidental security breaches, like tailgating or misplaced access credentials. Good security practices start with physical security like locking doors and monitoring entrances. However, companies must also protect their property like laptops, IT servers, and data sharing devices.

As businesses adopt more managed software and technology, their risk of a data breach increases. If suppliers, vendors, or contractors don't adhere to the same standards of security as the company itself, data and customer information are still vulnerable.

 As hackers and threats to security continue to change, your security system needs to be able to adapt just as quickly.  It's important to be prepared for the future. Security systems that can update software over the air are a prime example of this. A company should have an adaptable security system in place. This way, the business is always ready to do more with less investment over time.

 The right technology makes employing a security convergence strategy more seamless. Similar to the way teams work more efficiently when they collaborate, your security tools and systems are better equipped to safeguard your enterprise when they function together. 

Implementing security convergence starts with your people and technology. Previously siloed teams need to work together in order to keep your physical and digital assets safe. You can monitor your environment in real-time with cloud solutions. Security incidents are best dealt with by teams that are aware of the problem when it happens. Activity reporting, visual verification, and remote access to physical access controls are three areas that will help you to reduce the amount of time it takes to find a solution.

You can also be proactive in your security management with IoT automation and integrated platforms. AI-powered analytics tools can use this data to create a more complete picture of your security. It’s also important to stay vigilant and regularly audit your current physical and cyber security. Look for areas of risk and oversight and take appropriate measures to secure your business and customer information. You should also actively monitor your system for emerging threats by doing vulnerability testing and other types of security checks.

The Benefits of Feature Flags

Feature flags make it easy to quickly resolve bugs like the Log4j issue. Rather than shipping code in main that may not be ready due to the urgency to fix the bug, feature flags allow you to ship your latest version of code with confidence. With feature flags, your main branch is always release-ready. Wrap small updates like the fix for the Log4j issue and wrap it in a feature flag. That way you can easily test it and add it to your main branch as soon as it’s ready. This lets you get updates out to your users faster and minimizes risk.  

Learn More with DevCycle

DevCycle is the developer’s choice for feature flags. Reduce risk and minimize downtime to protect your users. Get started with a 14-day free trial of DevCycle.


Author headshot
written By
Ann McArthur

Ann is a product specialist who helps engineers easily get started using feature flags. She resides in Toronto where you can find her at the AGO, or at home whipping up a delicious meal.

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