GitHub issued a security alert Thursday warning about new malware spreading on its site via boobytrapped Java projects, ZDNet reports:
The malware, which GitHub’s security team has named Octopus Scanner, has been found in projects managed using the Apache NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment), a tool used to write and compile Java applications. GitHub said it found 26 repositories uploaded on its site that contained the Octopus Scanner malware, following a tip it received from a security researcher on March 9.
But the article adds GitHub “believes that many more projects have been infected during the past two years.”
GitHub says that when other users would download any of the 26 projects, the malware would behave like a self-spreading virus and infect their local computers. It would scan the victim’s workstation for a local NetBeans IDE installation, and proceed to burrow into the developer’s other Java projects. The malware, which can run on Windows, macOS, and Linux, would then download a remote access trojan (RAT) as the final step of its infection, allowing the Octopus Scanner operator to rummage through an infected victim’s computer, looking for sensitive information.
GitHub says the Octopus Scanner campaign has been going on for years, with the oldest sample of the malware being uploaded on the VirusTotal web scanner in August 2018, time during which the malware operated unimpeded.