August 22, 2014

Two machines attacked within the FreeBSD.org cluster

(LiveHacking.Com) – Just over a week ago the FreeBSD team detected an intrusion on two of its machines in the FreeBSD.org cluster. As a result the affected machines were taken offline while they investigated.  Also as a precaution, most of the remaining infrastructure machines were also taken offline. The investigation has revealed that the compromise occurred due to a leaked SSH key. No vulnerability or code exploit within FreeBSD was found. However the most alarming thing is that the attack and subsequent  compromise may have occurred as early as the 19th September 2012.

FreeBSD is divided into two segments: the “base” which includes the kernel; the system libraries; the compiler; and the core command-line tools and daemons, and the “packages” which are the third-party components distributed as part of the overall FreeBSD system. According to the security advisory published by the FreeBSD team, “no part of the base FreeBSD system has been put at risk. At no point has the intruder modified any part of the FreeBSD base system software in any way. However, the attacker had access sufficient to potentially allow the compromise of third-party packages.”

The investigation has concluded that although the attacker had sufficient access to compromise the third-party packages, no evidence has been found that any packages were modified. But the FreeBSD team is taking an extremely conservative view and is working on the assumption that packages generated and distributed between the 19th September and 11th November 2012 could theoretically have been modified.

Who’s affected?

You have no reason to worry if:

  • you are running a system that has had no third-party packages installed or updated on it between the 19th September and 11th November 2012.
  • you reply in the Source, Ports and Documentation Subversion repositories to make updates.
  • you use the freebsd-update binary upgrade mechanism (it uses an entirely separate infrastructure).

However for everyone else the FreeBSD project cannot cannot guarantee the integrity of any packages available for installation between 19th September 2012 and 11th November 2012, or of any ports compiled from trees obtained via any means other than through svn.freebsd.org or one of its mirrors. Those affect should re-install any machines from scratch, using trusted sources.

The package set built for the upcoming 9.1-RELEASE has been deleted, and will be rebuilt from source before 9.1 is released. With regards to the cluster machines, all suspect machines are being either reinstalled, retired, or thoroughly audited before being brought back online.

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