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Backdoor added to PHP source code in Git server breach

March 31, 2021

Had the incident gone unnoticed, the attackers may have taken over web sites utilizing the contaminated code

Unknown attackers compromised the official PHP Git server and planted a backdoor within the supply code of the programming language, doubtlessly placing web sites utilizing the contaminated code prone to full takeover.

The dangerous actor pushed two malicious commits to the php-src repository – one within the identify of PHP creator Rasmus Lerdorf himself and the opposite disguised as being signed off by Nikita Popov, a widely known PHP developer and maintainer. The first commit was allegedly fixing a minor typo within the code, whereas the second commit claimed to revert the repair.

“We don’t but know the way precisely this occurred, however every thing factors in the direction of a compromise of the git.php.internet server (moderately than a compromise of a person git account),” Popov mentioned in an announcement concerning the compromise, which was noticed on Sunday.

Chatting with BleepingComputer, Popov mentioned that they observed the primary commit throughout a routine post-commit code overview, and the adjustments to the code had been reverted instantly – in time earlier than it may have been pushed into manufacturing environments. The open-source server-side language is often utilized in net improvement.

The code change was first observed by contributors Markus Staab, Michael Voříšek, and Jake Birchall. Voříšek turned suspicious concerning the code change and requested about its operate, to which Birchall responded that the “line executes PHP code from throughout the useragent HTTP header, if the string begins with ‘zerodium’.”

Certainly, plainly the attackers needed to implicate Zerodium, an organization that payments itself as “the main exploit acquisition platform for premium zero-days”. Nevertheless, per its CEO, the zero-day dealer had nothing to do with the incident.

Following the breach, the PHP staff determined to transition from its personal Git infrastructure to mitigate the dangers. “Whereas investigation remains to be underway, we’ve got determined that sustaining our personal git infrastructure is an pointless safety threat, and that we’ll discontinue the git.php.internet server. As a substitute, the repositories on GitHub, which had been beforehand solely mirrors, will develop into canonical. Because of this adjustments must be pushed on to GitHub moderately than to git.php.internet,” Popov mentioned.

The PHP staff is now pushing for added safety. Whereas beforehand builders who needed to contribute wanted to make use of the group’s “home-grown” karma system, they’ll now have to develop into members of PHP’s GitHub repo and have two-factor authentication enabled.

Within the meantime, PHP is performing a safety audit of its repositories to verify for any additional indicators of compromise or malicious code past the 2 commits.

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