FreeBSD Project Servers Hacked Into With Leaked SSH Key

Two project servers hosting third-party package code for popular open-source FreeBSD were breached by hackers over the weekend. According to a preliminary report by the FreeBSD team, authentication over SSH was possible using credentials from a legitimate developer.

 “On Sunday 11 of November, an intrusion was detected on two machines within the FreeBSD.org cluster. The affected machines were taken offline for analysis. Additionally, a large portion of the remaining infrastructure machines were also taken offline as a precaution,” reads the advisory.

 The FreeBSD infrastructure is divided into two parts: the base (source code for kernel, system libraries, compiler, core tools such as SSH and daemons), and the third-party packages area. Further investigation revealed no modifications to the source code of the third party plugins. Luckily, the breach was only contained in the third-party packages and no modification of these files was made during the attack.

 “We have found no evidence of any modifications that would put any end user at risk. However, we do urge all users to read the report available at http://www.freebsd.org/news/2012-compromise.html and decide on any required actions themselves. We will continue to update that page as further information becomes known. We do not currently believe users have been affected given current forensic analysis, but we will provide updated information if this changes,” states the news update on the project’s page.

The FreeBSD team has taken all affected machines offline, as well as other machines that might have possible been compromised. The base release media has also been verified for malicious commits.

 This is not an isolated incident in the open-source world. In 2010, Apache servers that handled issue tracking got compromised via a XSS attack that resulted in hackers gaining administrative access and then root access to a core server in the Apache network.

About the author


Bogdan Botezatu is living his second childhood at Bitdefender as senior e-threat analyst. When he is not documenting sophisticated strains of malware or writing removal tools, he teaches extreme sports such as surfing the web without protection or rodeo with wild Trojan horses. He believes that most things in life can be beat with strong heuristics and that antimalware research is like working for a secret agency: you need to stay focused at all times, but you get all the glory when you catch the bad guys.

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