Emergency Update for CVE-2021-44228 (log4j / Log4Shell)

CVE-2021-44228 (https://nvd.nist.gov/vuln/detail/CVE-2021-44228) was released on December 10, 2021 outlining a vulnerability in Apache Foundation project Log4j (https://logging.apache.org/log4j/2.x/index.html). This vulnerability can be used by a remote attacker to execute code without authentication. This vulnerability is also known as Log4Shell.

WitFoo Precinct 6.x utilizes log4j in the WitFoo Streamer & Apache Kafka Docker containers that manage the message processing pipeline. Other custom WitFoo containers (including Cassandra 4.01) do not utilize log4j.

As of 0940 Eastern Standard time on Saturday, December 11, 2021, WitFoo has completed the following mitigation steps:

Lava & Cyber Insurance

I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend October on the Big Island of Hawai’i at a friend’s home while we button up the 6.2 release of Precinct. My wife and I were able to visit the Crater Overlook at Mount Kīlauea this week. Mount Kīlauea is the home of the Hawai’ian goddess Pele who controls the flow of lava (among other things.) Peering over the crater to see new earth being born under a canopy of ancient stars was breath taking and quite frankly an existential experience.

No Such Thing as Lava Insurance

In talking to locals, we were surprised to learn how inexpensive real estate is on the Big Island. When we inquired why that was true, we learned that there is no such thing as lava insurance. Driving the 2 hours from Waimea to the peak of Mount Kīlauea, we observed large lava flows dotted with huts and temporary housing that have accepted that another destructive lava flow is imminent.

GrrCon 2021: Machine Learning Driven Social Engineering

Machine Learning Driven Social Engineering talk will be given at GrrCon on 9/16/2021 at 4:30pm.


Machine learning (ML) is arguably the most potent advancement in technology since atomic fission with similar benefit and risk extremes. The outcome driven nature of machine learning allows computers to rapidly test theories to find pathways to support specific goals. These approaches applied to social engineering can be used to manipulate human factors for purposes including cybersecurity breach. This session will cover the philosophies, strategies and tactics used to accomplish a successful campaign to recruit human assets to a cause. Factors to mitigate risk in these advanced social engineering attacks will also be examined.

The presentation can be downloaded here.

2020 FBI Internet Crime Report

The 2020 Internet Crime Report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has been released and can be viewed here: 2020_IC3Report.pdf. I highly recommend all in SECOPS take a moment to grok the content. I’d like to share a few of my observations.

High Level Takeaways

Reading the report reinforces a few concepts that have not yet made it into the mainstream thought of SECOPS:

Eventual Consistency in Business Meetings

Brewers CAP Theorem

Computer Scientist, Eric Brewer, stipulated in the theorem that carries his name that you can have two out of three guarantees in distributed data storage with the guarantees being consistency, availability and partition tolerance. The limitations in Brewer’s “CAP” Theorem are not only key in solving modern big-data challenges, they also are critical in solving big-business issues.

Business as a Data Lake

It may be that 6 years running hundreds of experiments across different data philosophies and platforms have created long-term trauma that makes every problem in life look like a big-data problem but I cannot help but notice some parallel lessons between data lakes and organizations.

WitFooPi – Precinct on a Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi is a fantastic tool for learning and experimentation. To assist our trainers, students and partners, we have created a build of Precinct to run on a Raspberry PI4. The WitFooPi is not supported as a production appliance but is great way to have Precinct in the palm of your hand for capture the flag, session training and lab testing.

Build Requirements

WitFooPi has the following requirements. Precinct performs advanced analysis on data and will stretch the ARM architecture to its limits. Active cooling is a must to prevent overheating the unit. You will also need a 128GB SD Card, a Pi enabled Precinct license and the Pi image file.

Cassandra 4.0 Testing

WitFoo Precinct persists and replicates data on big-data NoSQL platform Apache Cassandra. Precinct 6.1.3 is built on Cassandra 3.11. In preparation for upgrade to Cassandra 4.0, the following lab & production testing was conducted.

Lab Appliances

WitFoo Precinct clusters consisting of 1 Management, 1 Streamer and 3 Data nodes were deployed in AWS using the official Marketplace images. The instances were configured to use AWS GP2 SSD drives (the recommended default) and were running on c5d.2xlarge hardware (16GB RAM, 8 CPU Cores.)

Our Move from Elastic to Cassandra

When we founded WitFoo five years ago, we wanted to analyze data in SIEM and other data stacks to provide craft knowledge that would stabilize communications within cybersecurity teams and between those teams and their organizations. A few months into that journey we realized there were fundamental problems in how existing SIEM and log aggregators collected and stored data which prompted us to add big data processing to the scope of our venture.

Fake Cybersecurity Awards

Cybersecurity expert, Chris Roberts, lamented earlier today in a LinkedIn post that he was offered a cybersecurity award for the low price of $1,200. His outrage prompted me to realize that most cybersecurity professionals and decision makers do not get the opportunity to see the evidence many of the “awards” in cybersecurity are bogus. I took a few minutes to search my email archives for some of the pay to play awards we have received in recent months.

Searching Precinct for Solarwinds Breach

Searching for the TLD of the Solarwinds DGA will quickly reveal any hits reported to Precinct. The TLD to search is avsmcloud.com. Months of incident data can be searched in moments and full, big-data search can run as a job.

Note, there have been no reports of matches from WitFoo customers at this time. IOC’s associated with the breach have not been submitted to WitFoo Library.

If you require assistance in running these searches, please reach out to WitFoo Support.

Subscribe to cybersecurity