Apache project server hacked, passwords compromised

The attack may be related to another intrusion at collaboration vendor Atlassian

Hackers broke into a server used by the Apache Software Foundation to keep track of software bugs.

The attack did not compromise the open-source Web server's source code repository, but it did give hackers access to a server used by the project to keep track of bugs, and they also obtained low-privilege accounts on another server used to maintain the people.apache.org Web site, according to Philip Gollucci, vice president of Apache infrastructure. "None of the source code was affected in any way," he said.

By taking advantage of a common Web programming error known as a cross-site scripting bug, and then using another password-guessing attack, hackers were able to break into the Atlassian JIRA software used by Apache. They then installed a password stealing program on that software, ultimately seizing full control of the machine. That gave them access to two other programs hosted by Apache on the same server, the Confluence wiki program and Bugzilla.

The intruders stole three cached login credentials from the compromised server to get access to the Minotaur.apache.org server that runs People.apache.org and provides shell accounts for Apache developers, but were unable to do much with these low-level accounts, Gollucci said. Even the data on its bugtracking systems is not sensitive, as Apache does not store information about security flaws on any of these servers, he said.

The unidentified attackers broke into Apache's JIRA server on April 6 and had begun stealing user passwords by the time Apache administrators noticed the issue on April 9.

In an attack launched at the same time, intruders were also able to break into Atlassian's own servers and gain access to customer user names and passwords. Atlassian employes several Apache developers, and attackers could have used the information from the Apache attack to try to break into accounts at Atlassian. "It's hard to say whether it was directed at Apache or at Atlassian," Gollucci said.

These passwords may prove to be valuable if Apache or Atlassian developers happen to use the same passwords on their source control systems. Then the attackers could make changes to the source code -- adding back door access to Apache projects, for example, said Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with Veracode, via a text message.

Atlassian sells software development tracking and collaboration products, including the JIRA and Confluence software used by Apache.

According to a Atlassian blog post, hackers were able to access an unencrypted database of usernames and passwords used to login to customer accounts. "The breach potentially exposed passwords for customers who purchased Atlassian products before July 2008," Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes said in a blog post. "We made a big error. For this we are, of course, extremely sorry. The legacy customer database, with passwords stored in plain text, was a liability."

Atlassian could not be reached immediately for comment.

This is not the first time the Apache Software Foundation has been hit by hackers. Last August intruders were able to break into the Minotaur server and run their owns scripts on Apache's Web site.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hackatlassiandata theftpasswordsapache

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?