Security Experts:

'Critical Severity' Warning for Malware Embedded in Popular JavaScript Library

Security responders are scrambling this weekend to assess the damage from crypto-mining malware embedded in an npm package (JavaScript library) that counts close to 8 million downloads per week.

The hack, which raised eyebrows because of the software supply chain implications, prompted a “critical severity” warning from GitHub that any computer with the embedded npm package “should be considered fully compromised.”

“The npm package ua-parser-js had three versions published with malicious code. Users of affected versions (0.7.29, 0.8.0, 1.0.0) should upgrade as soon as possible and check their systems for suspicious activity,” GitHub said in an advisory.

“Any computer that has this package installed or running should be considered fully compromised. All secrets and keys stored on that computer should be rotated immediately from a different computer,” GitHub warned. 

[ READ: Google Intros SLSA Framework to Enforce Supply Chain Integrity ]

“The package should be removed, but as full control of the computer may have been given to an outside entity, there is no guarantee that removing the package will remove all malicious software resulting from installing it,” the company added.

The problematic UAParser.js library is very popular, counting close to 8 million weekly downloads with some of tech’s most recognizable names -- Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Oracle  -- listed among its users. 

The issue first surfaced Friday evening when the package developer noticed unusual email activity that led to the discovery of the embedded malware.  “I believe someone was hijacking my npm account and published some compromised packages (0.7.29, 0.8.0, 1.0.0) which will probably install malware,” the developer explained.

The urgency of the issue was magnified when the U.S. government’s cybersecurity agency CISA issued its own “patch immediately” alert.

From the CISA advisory:

"Versions of a popular NPM package named ua-parser-js was found to contain malicious code. ua-parser-js is used in apps and websites to discover the type of device or browser a person is using from User-Agent data. A computer or device with the affected software installed or running could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information or take control of the system." 

The agency is strongly urging users and administrators using compromised ua-parser-js versions 0.7.29, 0.8.0, and 1.0.0 to update to the respective patched versions: 0.7.30, 0.8.1, 1.0.1 immediately. 

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Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. He is a journalist and cybersecurity strategist with more than 20 years experience covering IT security and technology trends. Ryan has built security engagement programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and Kaspersky GReAT. He is a co-founder of Threatpost and the global SAS conference series. Ryan's career as a journalist includes bylines at major technology publications including Ziff Davis eWEEK, CBS Interactive's ZDNet, PCMag and PC World. Ryan is a director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.