Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 26 October 2021 09:15

Cryptominer, credential stealer spread through JavaScript package manager

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Cryptominer, credential stealer spread through JavaScript package manager Pixabay

The NPM repository account linked to a popular node.js was hijacked for a while on Friday and used to spread a malicious script, the security firm Sophos claims.

NPM is a package manager for the JavaScript programming language. In a blog post, Sophos senior threat researcher Sean Gallagher said the script in question installed a monero miner on Linux systems while on Windows systems malware that harvested credentials was dropped.

The account that was used was that of the developer of a package known as UAParser.js, a library used by Web applications to detect information about browser types and operating systems.

"The attacker used that access to modify the deployment package for the library, adding instructions to run a new script named preinstall.js," Gallagher wrote.

"Also added to the package were preinstall.bat and preinstall.sh — the Windows and Linux scripts to be executed by the node.js package.

"The hijacker then pushed out the changes as three new versions: 0.7.29, 0.8.0, and 1.0.0."

After a few hours, the developer in question noticed something was amiss and published clean versions of the library.

Interestingly, the script that was dropped on Linux systems checked for the country code and did not run if the code returned was for Russian, Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Belarus.

The script downloaded a file from a server in Latvia which included the miner.

"The repeated attempts to use NPM to spread miners to Linux systems over the past month is further proof that Linux servers continue to be a very attractive target for cyber criminals – and stealing processing power for cryptomining is an easy way to monetise criminal access to these systems," Gallagher concluded.

"Many Linux servers run without any anti-virus protection installed because their operators want to avoid taking a performance hit, but that makes detection and mitigation of attacks like these more complex – and mining monero for someone else isn’t exactly optimizing server performance."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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