Credit card-stealing malware found in official Python repository

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Cybersecurity (opens in new tab) researchers have once again found malicious packages lurking in Python (opens in new tab)’s official repository, PyPI.

According to estimates from the security research team at DevOps specialists JFrog, the eight malicious Python packages were downloaded more than 30,000 times. 

The researchers’ analysis (opens in new tab) reveals that the tainted packages are designed to sniff out credit card information that’s usually auto-saved by some popular web browsers (opens in new tab) including Chrome (opens in new tab) and Edge (opens in new tab).

“The continued discovery of malicious software packages in popular repositories like PyPI is an alarming trend that can lead to widespread supply chain attacks. The ability for attackers to use simple obfuscation techniques to introduce malware (opens in new tab) means developers have to be concerned and vigilant,” observed Asaf Karas, CTO, Security at JFrog.

Checks and controls

PyPI has purged the packages after being alerted by JFrog. 

According to the JFrog, in addition to siphoning credit card details, the packages also scraped tokens of the Discord (opens in new tab) messaging platform, which could be used to impersonate the user. 

PyPI has been at the receiving end of several campaigns to poison the repository with malicious packages. Earlier this year in June, PyPI was purged of half a dozen typosquatting packages (opens in new tab) that contained cryptomining (opens in new tab) malware, and a month before that the repository was flooded with spam packages (opens in new tab).

In fact, a recent study revealed that almost half of the packages in PyPI have one or more security issues (opens in new tab).

The researchers believe a lack of moderation and automated security controls in PyPI and other public software repositories makes it fairly straightforward for threat actors to inject malicious code.

JFrog suggests that developers must integrate preventive measures such as verification of library signatures in their CI/CD pipelines (opens in new tab), along with tools that scan for suspicious code.

“This is a systemic threat, and it needs to be actively addressed on several layers, both by the maintainers of software repositories and by the developers,” believes Karas.

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.