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Backdoor Found in ‘rest-client’ Ruby Gem

A Ruby software package that contained a malicious backdoor has been removed from the Ruby Gems repository after compromising over ten libraries.

Called rest-client, the gem was designed to help Ruby developers send REST requests to their web apps and is highly popular, with over 113 million downloads on rubygems.org.

A Ruby software package that contained a malicious backdoor has been removed from the Ruby Gems repository after compromising over ten libraries.

Called rest-client, the gem was designed to help Ruby developers send REST requests to their web apps and is highly popular, with over 113 million downloads on rubygems.org.

The issue was discovered by developer Jussi Koljonen, who found that rest-client 1.6.13 contained malicious code designed to fetch remote code from pastebin.com and send user information to an external server.

The code would gather information such as username, password, and other secrets from the client’s host machine, and then send it to the website mironanoru.zzz.com.ua.

The malicious code was found in versions 1.6.10 to 1.6.13 of rest-client, which were released on August 13 and August 14. All of them were yanked, along with the remaining compromised gems.

The creator and maintainer of rest-client, Matthew Manning, revealed that the malicious code was added to the gem after his account was compromised through an insecure, re-used password.

“I take responsibility for what happened here. My RubyGems.org account was using an insecure, reused password that has leaked to the internet in other breaches,” Manning said.

“I made that account probably over 10 years ago, so it predated my use of password managers and I haven’t used it much lately, so I didn’t catch it in a 1password audit or anything,” he added.

CVE-2019-15224 was created for the incident, but no specific details on the number of affected users have been revealed so far.

However, rubygems maintainers decided to remove all of the gems found to include related code, including bitcoin_vanity 4.3.3, lita_coin 0.0.3, coming-soon 0.2.8, omniauth_amazon 1.0.1, cron_parser 1.0.12 1.0.13 0.1.4, coin_base 4.2.2 4.2.1, blockchain_wallet 0.0.6 0.0.7, awesome-bot 1.18.0, doge-coin 1.0.2, and capistrano-colors 0.5.5.

Last month, version 0.0.7 of the strong_password Ruby gem was found to contain malicious code designed to fetch and run code from Pastebin, thus allowing an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

Related: Malicious Code Planted in ‘strong_password’ Ruby Gem

Related: Several Vulnerabilities Patched in RubyGems

Related: GitHub Helps Developers Keep Dependencies Secure via Dependabot

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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