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WhiteSource Threat Report Reveals Massive Uptick In Cyberattacks Related To JavaScript npm

More than 1,300 malicious npm packages have been discovered for use in supply chain attacks, cryptojacking, data stealing and more

TEL AVIV AND BOSTON – February 2 – WhiteSource, a leader in open source security and management, today released a new threat report based on malicious activity found in npm, the most popular JavaScript package manager used by developers worldwide. The report, Popular Javascript Package Registry Is a Playground For Malicious Actors, is based on findings from more than 1,300 malicious npm packages identified in 2021 by WhiteSource Diffend, the company’s flagship automated malware detection platform.

JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language today, with more than 16 million developers worldwide relying on its speed, strong documentation, and interoperability with other programming languages. But the popularity of JavaScript has also attracted attention from threat actors, who increasingly target JavaScript’s open-source package managers and package registries – the most widely used of which is npm, with more than 1.8 million active packages.

WhiteSource tracked an average of 32,000 new npm packages published every month during 2021. That level of activity enabled threat actors to launch a number of attacks, including:

  • Software supply chain attacks: Used to steal data, corrupt targeted systems, and gain access throughout networks via lateral movement.
  • Cryptojacking: When a threat actor takes control of a victim’s computing resources to mine cryptocurrency.
  • Data stealing: Using keyloggers, screen scrapers, spyware, adware, bots, and more, attackers steal private and/or proprietary data from victims.
  • Security research: Attackers create packages that falsely claim to be designed for security research but actually contain malicious code.

“With an average of over 17,000 new npm package versions being published daily in 2021, there’s no question that package update activity needs to be closely monitored,” said Rami Sass, Co-Founder and CEO of WhiteSource. “Unfortunately, that popularity is being used by threat actors to spread malware and launch attacks that harm businesses and individuals. Our newest threat report is designed to educate readers about npm and how threat actors are using it, in order to better protect developers, companies, and users against malicious behavior.”

In addition to outlining what npm is and how it’s being used by threat actors, the report identifies five must-know facts about npm package security, as well as best practices to thwart npm attacks. 

To see if you have supply chain risks hidden in your organization, download WhiteSource Diffend here

To learn more about the report’s findings and download the full report, visit this link.

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WhiteSource.io Communications

WhiteSource.io offers an enterprise suite of application security tools designed to help leading organizations build and manage mature AppSec programs, enabling them to stop chasing vulnerabilities and start proactively managing application risk.

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