XM Cyber Advisory – Spring4Shell, Zero Day

Posted by: Zur Ulianitzky; Ilay Grossman
March 31, 2022


On March 30, A new zero day critical vulnerability was leaked in another open source software library. The vulnerability affects Spring Framework which is running over Java Development Kit 9.0 (JDK9.0) and above. Spring Core on JDK9+ is vulnerable to remote code execution due to a bypass for CVE-2010-1622. While Spring4shell needs to be addressed as soon as possible, it is important to highlight that as it is a common library that is used by many different java software components, it can be a major breach point allowing attackers to build a lateral move pivoting to business-critical assets in the organization. As this develops, XM Cyber Research will share insights and guidance on the impact of this new zero day.

There is a lot of confusion between two different vulnerabilities. The first is CVE-2022-22963, a vulnerability in Spring Cloud Function, which is considered to be less widely used. The leaked zero day vulnerability named “Spring4Shell” still doesn’t have a CVE ID, however many researchers were able to create a Proof of Concept (POC).

Is there a risk?

As revealed in our annual Attack Path Management Impact report, 78% of businesses can potentially be compromised whenever a new RCE (Remote Code Execution) technique is found. The new emerging zero day Spring4Shell demonstrates why it is so important to harden and improve the security posture in your organization. XM Cyber can help customers understand the hidden attack paths from any possible RCE to business critical assets. 

The Spring Framework is a Java platform that provides comprehensive infrastructure support for developing Java applications. Spring handles the infrastructure for developers, so that they can focus on developing their applications. Spring Core, like Log4J before it, is a library used by many developers in Java applications. Spring Core is the core of the framework that powers features such as inversion of control and dependency injection. Currently, the exploit requires moderate Java understanding.

The vulnerability, which is a RCE, allows attackers to execute code on the target systems.

Even though there is no patch by VMware (who is in charge of Spring Framework), the impact may be high and allows the attackers the ability to get initial access or move laterally in the organizations’ environment.

However, exploitation might not be possible for every application which uses Spring Core. Most POCs are using payloads that are relevant for Tomcat (Tomcat provides a “pure Java” HTTP web server environment in which Java code can run), however we’re sure that additional payloads will appear.

What should we do?

  1. Identify all products that are vulnerable to Spring4Shell
    1. Identify java processes
    2. Validate that JDK9.0 or above is in use (lower versions are not vulnerable). This can be done by running the “java -version” command
    3. spring-beans*.jar or CachedIntrospectionResults.class are loaded
    4. The application uses Spring parameter binding
    5. Spring parameter binding uses non-basic parameter types
  1. Update the Spring4Shell patch CVE ID: CVE-2022-22965
  1. If possible, add a rule into your WAF (Web Application Firewall) to filter requests containing “class.*”, “Class.*”, “*.class.*”, and “*.Class.*” string permutation. While WAF rules can reduce the risk, they are not bulletproof.
  1. Praetorian, published a temporary mitigation for the vulnerability. 

XM Cyber & Spring4Shell

The XM Cyber Attack Path Management platform does not incorporate the Spring Framework which means our solution is not vulnerable to Spring4Shell.

XM Cyber’s Attack Path Management platform is the first that can identify potential scenarios of the Spring Framework that are vulnerable to Spring4Shell. The platform checks for the following:

  • Identifying if java processes is running and listening to a remote port
  • Validating that JDK9.0 or above is in use
  • spring-beans*.jar is loaded

Like in Log4Shell, organizations have no visibility to what applications use Spring, which makes it very hard for them to know what to tackle first and how.

We are proactively approaching customers to share the findings from the XM Cyber Research team. All SaaS customers using the Attack Path Management have been updated with the latest platform version that includes the Spring4Shell technique.  XM Cyber allows organizations’ to see what the risk is if someone exploits this vulnerability.

Identifying Spring4Shell with XM Cyber

XM Cyber’s Attack Path Management platform can prioritize and remediate choke points leading from the Spring4Shell possible exploits to the critical assets, breaking the possible attack vector – regardless if there is no direct patch or remediation for the zero day itself. That represents a huge value to XM Cyber customers which many other solutions today do not have the ability to do.

The XM Cyber Research team is continuously analyzing the impact of the new zero day vulnerability. As this situation is moving fast we will continue to analyze the attack path management platform and to provide best practices and prioritized remediation guidance when available in this blog.


The XM Cyber Research team will continue updating this blog advisory as more details emerge and a relevant patch is provided.




Zur Ulianitzky; Ilay Grossman

Find and fix the exposures that put your critical assets at risk with ultra-efficient remediation.

See what attackers see, so you can stop them from doing what attackers do.