Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 09:24

Amateur bid to add code to Arch Linux packages found and squashed

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A script kiddie added code that was intended to be malicious to three packages on the user repository for Arch Linux but the packages were detected and deleted.

The Arch User Repository is meant for user-generated packages and any Arch user can contribute their packages for use by others. Whenever a package gets orphaned — has no maintainer — other users are free to pick it up and maintain it.

The Arch Linux project has a standard warning about using these packages at a user's risk, with the AUR page saying: "AUR packages are user-produced content. Any use of the provided files is at your own risk."

One of the packages altered was the Adobe Acrobat Reader; the names of the other two have not been revealed.

The would-be attacker intended for a curl command to download a script from a pastebin; this script in turn would download another script to make itself run periodically by making changes to the systemd init system.

Two commands were intended to be run: uname -a which gives some system information and systemctl list-units which details the processes that systemd has in memory; By default only units which are active, have pending jobs, or have failed are shown.

But the attacker appears to have been a rank amateur and misspelled his/her command, using "uploader" where "upload" should have been used.

Thus, all the good (?) work done by him/her came to naught.

The incident occurred on 7 July; the packages were deleted and the user's account removed in a couple of days.

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Sam Varghese

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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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