We are Still Building our IT on Shaky Ground

Once again, researchers have demonstrated the shaky foundation under our IT infrastructure. A lot of modern code is being built with Node.js, making use of Node Package Manager (npm) to pull in libraries that your code depends on.

There is no evidence that evil Russian hackers built npm. But if it didn’t exist, it would be a priority for the cyber-warfare command of our adversaries to build something like it and tempt us to use it.

The problem is that it is easy to use npm wrong, and hard to use it right. We’ve already seen many cases where organizations simply pull the latest packages from npm when they build. That means that as soon as the central package in the npm repository is corrupted or taken down, that failure will ripple through many layers of code that depend on it.

The latest discovery is that 8,000 packages have maintainers with an expired email domain. That allows any hacker to purchase that domain, re-create the maintainer email and take over the package.

Ask your CISO or other security function how your IT organization makes sure that every project only pulls npm packages from your official repository of security-vetted packages.

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