How the Apache Log4j Vulnerability Affects the Railway Industry & How Cervello Can Help

Shaked Kafzan
December 23, 2021
moving train at night

A massive cybersecurity vulnerability in the Apache Log4j software library is impacting nearly every website, application, and internet service. According to cybersecurity experts, exploiting this vulnerability gives malicious actors and nation-states the opportunity to do everything from stealing sensitive data to installing ransomware to remotely taking over real-world infrastructure.

For the rail industry, the potential impact of this vulnerability—known as CVE-2021-44228 — could be catastrophic. Railway operations, customer data, and passenger safety are at severe risk.

As government entities and industry leaders scramble to patch their systems and implement security updates, railway organizations are realizing that they don’t have the means to do this often enough. Without a solution that can quickly remediate this vulnerability, an exploit is only a matter of time.

The danger the Log4j vulnerability poses to railway

The rapid expansion and digitalization of mission-critical interconnected devices have introduced a myriad of new security challenges for railway organizations. Today, the widespread use of the Apache Log4j Java library throughout critical infrastructure makes railways an easy target for hackers.

For anyone with a mission to do harm—whether that’s an individual actor or a hostile nation-state—exploiting this vulnerability is easy. Exploitation instructions are widely published and accessible, meaning even a beginner hacker now has the ability to infiltrate and hijack mission-critical systems.

CISA recommends these four immediate actions to entities that are impacted by the vulnerability:
*Discover all internet-facing assets that allow data inputs and use the Log4j Java library anywhere in the stack.
*Discover all assets that use the Log4j library.
*Update or isolate affected assets. Assume compromise, identify common post-exploit sources and activity, and hunt for signs of malicious activity.
*Monitor for odd traffic patterns (e.g., JDNI LDAP/RMI outbound traffic, DMZ systems initiating outbound connections).

Unfortunately, railway systems that have been running for years are rarely updated, making them difficult to patch and fortify from a security standpoint. And since railway as an industry has been slower to adopt cybersecurity solutions, many organizations still lack the ability to detect threats or isolate assets with known vulnerabilities.

These challenges are compounded when you consider the supply chain. Third-party connected systems that contain the vulnerability might now be the easiest point of entry for attackers. For example, a third-party telecommunications system that contains the vulnerability could open the door to a cybercriminal via its connection to your railway signaling system.

Attackers know this and won’t hesitate to take advantage of this added vulnerability.

How Cervello protects railway organizations from cyber threats like Apache Log4j

Today, industry leaders, government agencies, and the media are focused on the Log4j vulnerability, and rightly so. The potential damage of this vulnerability being exploited by a malicious actor puts business operations and potentially human lives at risk. But this is just one vulnerability. There are and will be more.

The only way railway organizations can quickly detect and resolve known vulnerabilities and defend themselves from cyberattacks is with a dedicated rail cybersecurity solution, which has the ability to monitor the entire railway infrastructure for vulnerabilities and enable fast remediation.

Cervello’s threat detection engine can instantly identify all assets affected by the Apache Log4j vulnerability within the railway network, map the affected assets according to their security zones, predict their operational impact, and deliver step-by-step remediation guidance on how to remediate threats before any damage occurs.

Such capabilities are integral to ensuring safety, reliability, and business continuity.

One of our threat detection mechanism’s main functionalities is DPI (deep packet inspection). It is built to detect and identify cyberthreats in the application layer in real-time. And with our expert-designed and customized cybersecurity incident response playbook, we empower railway operators, infrastructure managers, and all other stakeholders to quickly and effectively resolve any threat.

As a fully passive and non-intrusive railway-centred solution, Cervello integrates directly into the railway infrastructure with zero system downtime or changes. With simple and rapid deployment, vulnerable railway organizations today can quickly detect the Log4j vulnerability (and more).

The stakes are too high to remain in the dark

Railway organizations that don’t have a railway cybersecurity platform—and therefore lack the ability to detect, investigate, and resolve known vulnerabilities and cyber threats—leave too much at risk. Staying in the dark is no longer an option.

Fortunately, arming yourself with the right cybersecurity model is easy.

With the Cervello platform, you will gain the ability to visualize the entire operational environment, automatically identify assets that contain vulnerabilities (or those that have already been compromised), and deploy the correct remediation guidance.

Our rail incident response playbook is continuously updated with both manual research and automatically aggregated information on how to mitigate vulnerabilities and prevent damage, so you always have the insights and guidance you need.

Want to learn more about how Cervello can protect your systems against the Apache Log4j vulnerability? Simply leave your details in the form on your right, and one of our experts will contact you ASAP.

Cervello is exhibiting at APTA Rail 24! Join us June 2-3.