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The FreeBSD project has announced that an intrusion was detected on two of the machines within its project cluster on November 11.

The announcement said that these two machines had been taken offline for analysis; a major proportion of the remaining infrastructure machines was also taken offline as a precautionary measure.

FreeBSD is one of three open-source operating systems that are based on BSD, a version of UNIX, that was developed at the University of California, Berkeley, mainly by Bill Joy, in the 1980s.

The project said the compromise was believed to have taken place through a leaked SSH key from a developer who had legitimate access to the two hacked machines.

There was no effect on the base system, the announcement said. It added that while the attacker had sufficient access to the third-party packages to effect changes, nothing had been found to far.

"However the FreeBSD Project is taking an extremely conservative view on this and is working on the assumption that third-party packages generated and distributed within a specific window could theoretically have been modified," the announcement said.

A system running no third-party packages that had been updated between September 19 and November 11 was safe, the project said. But the integrity of any third-party packages installed between these dates could not be guaranteed.

Detailed instructions for developers have also been released.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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