from the attack-of-the-clones dept.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
Thousands of GitHub repositories were forked (copied) with their clones altered to include malware, a software engineer discovered today.
While cloning open source repositories is a common development practice and even encouraged among developers, this case involves threat actors creating copies of legitimate projects but tainting these with malicious code to target unsuspecting developers with their malicious clones.
GitHub has purged most of the malicious repositories after receiving the engineer's report.
Today, software developer Stephen Lacy left everyone baffled when he claimed having discovered a "widespread malware attack" on GitHub affecting some 35,000 software repositories.
Contrary to what the original tweet seems to suggest, however, "35,000 projects" on GitHub have not been affected or compromised in any manner.
Rather, the thousands of backdoored projects are copies (forks or clones) of legitimate projects purportedly made by threat actors to push malware.
Official projects like crypto, golang, python, js, bash, docker, k8s, remain unaffected. But, that is not to say, the finding is unimportant, as explained in the following sections.
While reviewing an open source project Lacy had "found off a google search," the engineer noticed the following URL in the code that he shared on Twitter:
BleepingComputer, like many, observed that when searching GitHub for this URL, there were 35,000+ search results showing files containing the malicious URL. Therefore, the figure represents the number of suspicious files rather than infected repositories:
We further discovered, out of the 35,788 code results, more than 13,000 search results were from a single repository called 'redhat-operator-ecosystem.'
[...] As a best practice, remember to consume software from the official project repos and watch out for potential typosquats or repository forks/clones that may appear identical to the original project but hide malware.
This can become more difficult to spot as cloned repositories may continue to retain code commits with usernames and email addresses of the original authors, giving off a misleading impression that even newer commits were made by the original project authors. Open source code commits signed with GPG keys of authentic project authors are one way of verifying the authenticity of code.