02 September 2009 | 9,949 views

Apache.org Hacked Using Remote SSH Key

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Apache.org has been hacked quite a number of this times, last week it happened again and the whole infrastructure was down for a few hours while they sorted out what had happened and how to remedy it.

Apparently one the remote SSH keys was compromised allowed attacked to upload code, the scary part is they could upload a trojaned version of Apache, which over a few days could be downloaded by thousands of people.

Very little seems to be known about what damage was done and no-one is claiming responsibility for it.

The website of Apache was taken offline for several hours on Friday after the SSH remote administration key on one of its servers was compromised.

SSH is a widely used technology for remote administration, so in the worst scenario the compromise created a means for hackers to upload Trojanised code onto the download section of Apache’s website. Around 50 per cent of webservers run Apache, according to the latest stats from Netcraft, so any problem would be extremely widely felt.

It’s unclear at present whether any code on the Apache website was actually modified. Nor do we know how the attack was carried out or who was behind it.

According to the Apache Infrastructure Team, in their own words:

“To the best of our knowledge at this time, no end users were affected by this incident, and the attackers were not able to escalate their privileges on any machines.”

You can read their initial report here.

Apache’s web site was restored after DNS records were changed so that servers based in Europe rather than at the main US site were carrying the load.

Rik Ferguson, a security researcher at Trend Micro, notes that the same type of compromised SSH key problem led to attacks that attempted to install rootkits on Linux based systems in August 2008.

Screenshots of Apache’s statement on the incident, since removed, have been preserved for posterity in a blog posting by Trend Micro here and F-Secure here. ®

They have restored all the servers from back-up images and I hope they’ve changed all the SSH keys, we can keep an eye on the progress and see if any more details crop up.

It’d be interesting to know the motives behind the attack, was it political or for money?

Apache currently scores about 47% of all global web-servers, so we better hope there isn’t a backdoor slipped in.

Source: The Register (Thanks Droope)



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4 Responses to “Apache.org Hacked Using Remote SSH Key”

  1. d3m4s1@d0v1v0 2 September 2009 at 11:50 am Permalink

    I wonder how the SSH key was compromised… social engineering?, hack into one of the administrators computer? a lost pen drive?

    If apache gets compromised, we all get compromised!

  2. Rishabh Dangwal 2 September 2009 at 4:41 pm Permalink

    Backdoor ? there is a gr8 potential for slipping that one in,one that can lead to global owning of servers before anyone can act. The security industry needs a security industry…

  3. cbrp1r8 2 September 2009 at 7:50 pm Permalink

    not hard to believe when stuff like this is out there all the time now…
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/08/openssh_exploit_rumour/

  4. Dany 18 October 2009 at 9:54 pm Permalink

    got anybody the sourcecode for sharing ? :)