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Critical Apache Commons Text Flaw Compared to Log4Shell, But Not as Widespread

A critical security hole affecting Apache Commons Text has been compared to the notorious Log4Shell vulnerability, but experts say it’s not as widespread.

A critical security hole affecting Apache Commons Text has been compared to the notorious Log4Shell vulnerability, but experts say it’s not as widespread.

Apache Commons Text is an open source Java library designed for working with strings. Alvaro Munoz, a researcher at GitHub’s Security Lab, discovered in March that the library is affected by an arbitrary code execution vulnerability related to untrusted data processing and variable interpolation.

The flaw, tracked as CVE-2022-42889, was patched by Apache Commons developers last week with the release of version 1.10.0.

Apache Commons Text is used by many developers and organizations, and some have rushed to describe CVE-2022-42889 as the next Log4Shell vulnerability. Log4Shell impacts the widely used Log4j Java logging framework and it has been exploited in many attacks since its disclosure nearly one year ago.

CVE-2022-42889 has been named Text4Shell and Act4Shell due to its similarity to Log4Shell, but many believe that while the vulnerability could be dangerous, it currently does not deserve a name and logo.

Rapid7 researchers have analyzed the vulnerability and determined that it should not be compared to Log4Shell.

“The nature of the vulnerability means that unlike Log4Shell, it will be rare that an application uses the vulnerable component of Commons Text to process untrusted, potentially malicious input,” they explained.

In addition, they tested it against various versions of JDK and their proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit only worked without warnings against versions 9.0.4, 10.0.2 and 1.8.0_341.

Sophos said the vulnerability is dangerous and described it as ‘like Log4Shell all over again’, but the company admitted that, for the time being, exploiting it on vulnerable servers is not as easy as in the case of the Log4j bug. Others have reached the same conclusion.

Text4Shell, Act4Shell, CVE-2022-42889

Researcher Sean Wright also believes CVE-2022-42889 is not like Log4Shell, pointing out that Commons Text is not as widely used as Log4j.

Munoz himself also clarified that regardless of the similarities to Log4Shell, the new vulnerability is likely far less prevalent.

While CVE-2022-42889 will likely not end up being exploited at the scale of Log4Shell, organizations are still advised to address the vulnerability, particularly since PoC code is publicly available. Sophos has shared some recommendations for potentially impacted organizations.

Related: Recently Patched Apache HTTP Server Vulnerability Exploited in Attacks

Related: High-Severity Vulnerability Found in Apache Database System Used by Major Firms

Related: Over 100,000 Apache HTTP Servers Affected by Actively Exploited Zero-Day Flaw

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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