Saturday, June 15, 2024

Nascent Malware Attacking npm, PyPI, and RubyGems Developers

Phylum analyzes source code and metadata for all registry-pushed packages. This year, in millions of packages they are aiming to examine nearly a billion files, as this will enable them to get unique insights into package behaviors across ecosystems.

That’s why it has been actively tracking various recent malware campaigns, from fake npm package updates to GCC binary impostors and complex data exfiltration setups.

Besides this, the cybersecurity analysts at Phylum recently reported about Nascent malware attacking developers of the following platforms and programs:-

Nascent Malware on Registry packages

Phylum’s automated platform alerted researchers about the “kwxiaodian” package on September 3, 2023, and in its the following contents were revealed:-

Contents of (Source – Phylum)

Simultaneously, they received alerts about harmful npm packages executing specific actions in the package.json preinstall hook, and then the obfuscated index.js file was executed.

Here below, we have mentioned all the things that this package does:-

  • The network interface info is gathered initially.
  • Basic information like OS details, free memory available, etc., were also collected.
  • If the platform is not macOS, then the execution is automatically terminated.
  • Lastly, it encrypts and sends data to the attacker’s server.

The Rubygems package mirrors PyPI and npm patterns, triggering automatic execution via the “Rakefile” to collect and send host information to a remote server.

Ruby platform data collection (Source – Phylum)

Ecosystems Commonalities 

However, apart from all these things, the campaigns targeting npm, PyPI, and RubyGems are identical, as revealed by the researchers upon close review analysis.

Here below, we have mentioned all the commonalities:-

  • On, all the packages communicate with a service.
  • Collects and sends system info to this service.
  • On macOS systems, the packages execute only.
  • Similar versions across ecosystems were published.


Full package timeline (Source – Phylum)

Malware is widespread in open-source registries, and despite security awareness, developers often pull and execute packages from unknown sources. Making manual audits impractical due to the increasing number of dependencies.

In this scenario, using automated solutions to detect and block packages violating defined policies is a wise approach to managing malware and other risks.

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Guru baran
Guru baran
Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

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