Supply chain attacks are extremely common but not always quick to be detected. This morning I saw an article about the AUR (Arch User Repository), a community-driven repository created and managed by Arch Linux users, hosting malicious software. The software in question was an orphaned PDF Viewer called “acroread”. This software would collect mess with systemd, collect system information and exfiltrate that data . For more information on that please read the hacker news article referenced.
The Supply Chain Problem
A supply chain is actually a complex and dynamic supply and demand network.
A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.  A supply chain attack when when you exploit part of the process to change the end result.
I am guessing it’s because of the Gentoo  and Docker hub  attacks that everyone is looking at their community packages and we will see more of these reports coming out. With bitjacking there is a monetary incentive to hack a “trusted”, but in reality community, supply chain. This is the dark side of the open code movement.
Supply chain management and transparency is hard. Double that if you are a community supported entity that doesn’t make money or give guarantees. Do you spend time fixing bugs, adding features, reviewing pull requests, documenting old features better, document new features, demand/community generation, and so many more actions. When there is not a level of control but an implied trust… you are asking for problems. Ask yourself, would you run a binary from a random guy on the internet? If so, look inward.
I want to point that that this was discovered in the AUR (Arch User Repository), a community-driven repository created and managed by Arch Linux users, not official repositories like Arch Build System (ABS).
We think about supply chain management a lot at Red Hat. I would talk about this often when I was a Solution Architect. Red Hat, Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu deliver each have repositories that are controlled and backed by companies. This means they have control to the kingdom and you need to follow a specific process to get added. The AUR appears to have something similar but since it’s community based, they found a weakness in an orphaned package and use that as a jumping on point.
Don’t run some code a guy on the internet wrote… Get it from a trusted source. I’m looking at you snaps and juju… Unfortunately, scammers and state actors understand you want things ‘easy’. There is a contention between ease of use and security. Moving fast and moving safely. Over and over again we see systems get abused. Be mindful of your sources and hopefully Arch and Gentoo doesn’t take to much of a reputation hit from this, but hopefully they are more vigilant in the future.