Python devs are being targeted by this massive infostealing malware campaign

(Image credit: Cyberattack)

Cybersecurity researchers from Checkmarx have discovered a new infostealing campaign that leveraged typosquatting and stolen GitHub accounts to distribute malicious Python packages to the PyPI repository.

In a blog post, Tal Folkman, Yehuda Gelb, Jossef Harush Kadouri, and Tzachi Zornshtain of Checkmarx said they discovered the campaign after a Python developer complained about falling victim to the attack. 

Apparently, the company believes more than 170,000 people are at risk.

Infostealers and keyloggers

The attackers first took a popular Python mirror, Pythonhosted, and created a typosquatted website version. They named it PyPIhosted. Then, they grabbed a major package, called Colorama (150+ million monthly downloads), added malicious code to it, and then uploaded it on their typosquatted-domain fake-mirror. “This strategy makes it considerably more challenging to identify the package's harmful nature with the naked eye, as it initially appears to be a legitimate dependency,” the researchers explained.

Another strategy involved stealing popular GitHub accounts. An account named “editor-syntax” got their account compromised, most likely via session cookie theft. By obtaining session cookies, the attackers managed to bypass any and all authentication methods and logged directly into the person’s account. Editor-syntax is a major contributor, maintaining the GitHub organization whose community counts more than 170,000 members. The threat actors used the access to commit malware to the Python library.

The goal of the campaign was to steal sensitive data from the victims. Checkmarx’s researchers said the malware stole browser data (cookies, autofill information, browsing history, bookmarks, credit cards, and login credentials, from the biggest browsers such as Opera, Chrome, Brave, Vivaldi, Yandex, and Edge), Discord data (including Discord tokens, which can be used to access accounts), cryptocurrency wallet data, Telegram chat sessions, computer files, and Instagram data. 

Further analysis also discovered that the infostealer was able to work as a keylogger, as well.

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.