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Companies and governments around the world rushed over the weekend to fend off cyberattacks looking to exploit a serious flaw in a widely used piece of Internet software that security experts warn could give hackers sweeping access to networks. From a report: Cybersecurity researchers said the bug, hidden in an obscure piece of server software called Log4j, represents one of the biggest risks seen in recent years because the code is so widely used on corporate networks. The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an urgent alert about the vulnerability and urged companies to take action. CISA Director Jen Easterly said on Saturday, "To be clear, this vulnerability poses a severe risk. We will only minimize potential impacts through collaborative efforts between government and the private sector." Germany's cybersecurity organization over the weekend issued a "red alert" about the bug. Australia called the issue "critical." Security experts warned that it could take weeks or more to assess the extent of the damage and that hackers exploiting the vulnerability could access sensitive data on networks and install back doors they could use to maintain access to servers even after the flawed software has been patched. "It is one of the most significant vulnerabilities that I've seen in a long time," said Aaron Portnoy, principal scientist with the security firm Randori. Security experts noted that many companies have other processes in place that would prevent a malicious hacker from running software and breaking into these companies, potentially limiting the fallout from the bug. Microsoft, in an alert to customers, said "attackers are probing all endpoints for vulnerability." Amazon.com, Twitter and Cisco were among the companies that have said they were carrying out investigations into the depth of the problem. Amazon, the world's biggest cloud computing company, said in a security alert, "We are actively monitoring this issue, and are working on addressing it."