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Exploit code published for dangerous Apache Solr remote code execution flaw

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Confusion still surrounds a security bug that the Apache Solr team patched over the summer, which turns out it’s actually much more dangerous than anyone thought.

Apache Solr is a Java-based open-source search engine, initially developed to add search functionality to the CNET website.

The project was donated to the Apache Software Foundation in 2006, from where it gained worldwide usage due to its speed and expanded feature-set.

Issue reported months ago

Over the summer, a user named “jnyryan” reported to the Solr project that the default solr.in.sh configuration file that is included with all new Solr instances contained an insecure option.

The default config shipped with the ENABLE_REMOTE_JMX_OPTS option set to enabled, which, in turn, exposed port 8983 to remote connections.

At the time it was reported, the Apache Solr team didn’t see the issue as a big deal, and developers thought an attacker could only access (useless) Solr monitoring data, and nothing else.

Things turned out to be much worse when, on October 30, a user published proof-of-concept code on GitHub showing how an attacker could abuse the very same issue for “remote code execution” (RCE) attacks. The proof-of-concept code used the exposed 8983 port to enable support for Apache Velocity templates on the Solr server and then used this second feature to upload and run malicious code.

A second, more refined proof-of-concept code was published online two days later, making attacks even easier to execute.

It was only after the publication of this code that the Solr team realized how dangerous this bug really was. On November 15, they issued an updated security advisory. In its updated alert, the Solr team recommended that Solr admins set the ENABLE_REMOTE_JMX_OPTS option in the solr.in.sh config file to “false” on every Solr node and then restart Solr.

They also recommend that users keep Solr servers behind firewalls, as these systems were never designed to sit exposed on the internet, but only part of closed and tightly monitored internal networks.

The Solr team said that only Solr versions running on Linux are impacted.

However, there is still some mystery about what versions are impacted. In its security advisory, the Solr team said that only v8.1.1 and v8.2.0 are vulnerable, but, in a blog post last week, the Tenable research team said that the impact is much greater, with the vulnerability affecting all Solr versions from v7.7.2 to v8.3, the latest version.

No attacks detected, but are expected

The good news is that at the time of writing, no attacks have been detected in the wild. However, this is only a matter of time.

Apache Solr instances usually have access to large computational resources and, historically, have been highly sought after targets by malware gangs.

For example, CVE-2017-12629 and CVE-2019-0193 were targeted by hackers within weeks after details and exploit code became public. In both instances, attackers used the two vulnerabilities to gain access to Solr servers and plant cryptocurrency-mining malware on unpatched servers.

Because we already know this new Solr bug can lead to remote code execution and we have readily-available public exploit code, experts expect this security flaw to come under active attacks within days or weeks.

This new Solr bug is tracked as CVE-2019-12409.



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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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