By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new online threat could make businesses, governments and consumers vulnerable to cyberattacks. Now security experts are racing to get ahead of criminals.

It surrounds a utility called Log4j, which is used in a range of devices, including smart watches, TVs, gaming consoles, printers, smart thermostats and cloud services.

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“This particular issue is extremely widespread just because it’s so common and used in many, many applications,” said Mark Ostrowski.

Ostrowski, who is with the cybersecurity firm Check Point, says hackers have already tried to use the flaw to gain access to around half of the corporate networks worldwide.

Now businesses, tech companies and governments are implementing patches to block them.

“Very quickly it’s been fixed across multiple, multiple platforms,” said Ostrowski, “as well as cybersecurity companies have created protections against these things.”

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But it’s possible networks have already suffered a breach.

“This is at a scale that is really, historically unprecedented,” said CBSN Tech Reporter Dan Patterson.

Patterson says it’s important to avoid not giving hackers any help by clicking on links you don’t recognize.

“Often hackers use phishing by sending you something that looks real and is actually a malicious link,” said Patterson.

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And, he says, it’s vital to check for software updates on your devices to make sure you have the latest security protections. Team