If you're using this hijacked NPM library anywhere in your software stack, read this

US govt issues alert over JS package downloaded 8m times a week – plus more news from world of infosec


In brief The US government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has warned developers that a version of the ua-parser-js JavaScript library, available via NPM, was infected with data-stealing and cryptocurrency-mining malware.

The package, which is fetched nearly eight million times a week, is used by software to extract information about users' browsers, operating systems, and host hardware from their clients' user-agent strings. It's useful for web apps to predict or figure out the devices connecting to them.

The NPM account hosting it was seemingly compromised by miscreants, who modified the package so that when installed, it would bring in various bits of malware on whatever system was running the code.

Github, which owns NPM these days, put out an advisory rating the issue as critical and urged all users to update their applications immediately to use non-tampered-with versions and roll out or deploy those apps. Folks should also check to make sure there's no malicious code running on their machines.

"I believe someone was hijacking my npm account and published some compromised packages (0.7.29, 0.8.0, 1.0.0) which will probably install malware as can be seen from the diff here," explained ua-parser-js developer Faisal Salman on Friday.

"I have sent a message to NPM support since I can't seem to unpublish the compromised versions (maybe due to npm policy https://docs.npmjs.com/policies/unpublish) so I can only deprecate them with a warning message."

Meanwhile, GitHub stated, quite bleakly:

Any computer that has this package installed or running should be considered fully compromised. All secrets and keys stored on that computer should be rotated immediately from a different computer. The package should be removed, but as full control of the computer may have been given to an outside entity, there is no guarantee that removing the package will remove all malicious software resulting from installing it.

Versions 0.7.30, 0.8.1, 1.0.1 have all been issued with the malware removed. CISA has published a summary of the issue, urging people to upgrade any software using the poisoned ua-parser-js packages.

This is why we can't have nice things

If you're wondering why the ransomware epidemic is still in full effect, a survey of American IT folk, published this month, showed the answer: people are paying the demands.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of those questioned reported experiencing at least one ransomware attack in the past year, and 83 per cent of those hit said they coughed up for the extortionists. It didn't help much; half of them still lost data, and 42 per cent lost customers as a result of an attack.

Small wonder then that the US government estimates ransomware operators have siphoned off $590m this year alone from their victims, and have raked in over $5.2bn in the past three years. With proceeds like that this issue isn't going to go away.

Smaller pro-privacy email services Runbox, Posteo, Fastmail, and others, were hit with distributed denial-of-service attacks this month designed to force them offline, or degrade performance, until demands are met.

Sinclair Broadcast Group infected with ransomware

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns a huge swath of TV stations in the US, was partially taken off air by data-stealing malware.

"On October 16, 2021, the company identified and began to investigate and take steps to contain a potential security incident," it said in a statement.

"On October 17, 2021, the company identified that certain servers and workstations in its environment were encrypted with ransomware, and that certain office and operational networks were disrupted. Data also was taken from the company’s network."

Sinclair didn't say if it had paid any ransom, and getting service back to normal sounded like quite a struggle.

Olypmics telco awards itself a gold medal

NTT has given itself a clean bill of health on the security front for the role it played in providing core connectivity to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Japan this year, despite a large number of attempts by miscreants to break the computer security of the event.

"There were NO situations resulting in cyber attacks that affected the operation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020," was the bold statement [PDF] from the Japanese telco giant.

After the Olympic Destroyer attack crippled computers at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, special measures were taken to prevent scumbags from scoring victories at the Tokyo Games this summer. More than 450 million "security events" were blocked, it said.

NTT worked closely with South Korean equivalents to learn the lessons from 2018, training staff on intrusion detection and educating security engineers to shore up defenses.

Microsoft goes all Defender for non-profits

Microsoft is offering non-profit organizations free security training and auditing, and a set of security tools in the hope this will help groups keep cyber-criminals at bay. Well, at least it's better than getting advice from Adobe, let's say.

Non-profits are popular targets for intrusion, and are typically starved of funds for computer defenses and may not even have a meaningful IT department.

Microsoft wants to sign up 10,000 organizations for its Security Program for Nonprofits in the next twelve months, and 50,000 in three years.

"It’s up to all of us to support nonprofits as they work on the front lines of need around the world. Volunteers, partners, donors and employees continue to accomplish great things in the face of great need," said Justin Spelhaug, veep of tech for social impact at Microsoft Philanthropies. ®

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