Welcome to the final review of cyber attacks and data breaches for 2021. In December, we discovered 219 million breached records from 74 publicly disclosed security incidents.
As always, you can find the full list on our sister site – and keep an eye out for our complete review of the year, in which we look at the year’s biggest stories.
In this blog, we take a closer look at some of the more notable stories that have affected European organisations.
Log4Shell vulnerability threatens Internet security
There was widespread panic in December when a remote code execution exploit was found in versions of log4j, the popular open-source Java logging library.
The critical vulnerability, dubbed Log4Shell, was made public almost a month after security researchers at Alibaba disclosed it to the Apache Software foundation.
Security teams around the world have been scrambling to fix the issue, which some have claimed is “arguably the most severe vulnerability ever”.
Apple, Amazon, Baidu, Google, IBM, Tesla, Twitter and Steam are among those affected, with vulnerabilities affecting thousands of software products, online systems and Internet-connected devices.
More than 250 vendors have already issues security advisories and bulletins on how Log4Shell affects their products.
The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2021-44228 and has been given the maximum 10.0 severity rating. That means attackers can take full control of a vulnerable system over the Internet without any interaction from the victim.
Users are being urged to check for patches regularly and ensure that updates are applied as soon as possible.
Belgian military battles to restore systems after cyber attack
The Belgian Defence Ministry is among those to have disclosed a security incident resulting from Log4Shell.
The government said that the incident began on 16 December, and although it was able to contain the damage, some portions of its network were taken offline.
It marks the first occasion that a NATO country’s defence ministry has fallen victim to the flaws, leaving some of the ministry’s activities paralysed for several days.
Belgian Ministry of Defence spokesman Olivier Severin said: “Defence discovered an attack on its computer network with internet access on Thursday. Quarantine measures were quickly taken to isolate the affected parts. The priority is to keep the defence network operational.”
He added: “This attack follows the exploitation of the Log4j vulnerability, which was made public last week and for which IT specialists around the world are jumping into the breach.”
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics hit by cyber attack
The German firm Hellman Worldwide Logistics disclosed in December that it had suffered a cyber attack that forced its central data centre offline.
Few details have emerged about the incident, with the organisation saying that it had temporarily disconnected parts of its systems “as a precautionary measure”.
Hellman later confirmed that the attackers had successfully extracted data from its systems before the organisation too them offline. It did not state what time of information was compromised, although it did state that there had been an increase in fraudulent phone calls and emails.
After Hellman discovered the incident, the Global Crisis Taskforce was brought in to analyse the damage.
The organisation initially indicated that its phone lines were affected, advising clients to contact Hellman contacts via their work phones. However, it has since confirmed that inbound and outcome communication channels are safe and that its sales team is reachable 24 hours a day.
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