Security Experts:

'Critical Severity' Warning: Malware Found in Widely Deployed npm Packages

Software supply chain security jitters escalated again Friday with new “critical severity” warnings about malware embedded in two npm package managers widely used by some of the biggest names in tech.

According to separate advisories from GitHub, confirmed by the npm security team, two popular npm package managers -- the Coa parser and the rc configuration loader -- were compromised and rigged with password-stealing malware.

The npm security team confirmed that the package rc had versions published with malicious code. Users of affected versions (1.2.9, 1.3.9, and 2.3.9) should downgrade to 1.2.8 as soon as possible and check their systems for suspicious activity.

The rc package is widely distributed and used by major tech organizations and counts more than 14 million weekly downloads.

The exact issue also hit the Coa parser for command line options.  Coa counts about 8.8 million downloads per week and is another link in the open-source software supply chain.

"Any computer that has [the vulnerable] package installed or running should be considered fully compromised," GitHub warned. 

[READ: Malware Found Embedded in Popular JavaScript Library ]

"All secrets and keys stored on that computer should be rotated immediately from a different computer. 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.

This is the second major npm package manager breach involving malware silently planted in a popular JavaScript library.  In late October, security response professionals were scrambling to assess the damage from crypto-mining and password-stealing malware embedded ua-parser-js, an npm package (JavaScript library) that counts close to 8 million downloads per week.

The hack raised eyebrows because of the software supply chain implications and prompted an extremely urgent 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.

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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.